What is Acupuncture?

The word acupuncture comes from the Latin acus, "needle", and pungere, "to prick", and acupuncture is just that, pricking you with needles, or to put it in medical terminology; the procedure of inserting and manipulating filiform (very fine) needles into various points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture points are situated on meridians along which qi (a "life energy"), flows. Modern acupuncture texts present them as ideas that are useful in clinical practice and continue to inform the practice of acupuncture, but there is no clinical evidence to support the existence of meridians and they have not been reconciled with contemporary knowledge about biology, physics or chemistry.

The earliest written record of acupuncture is the Chinese text Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian) with elaboration of its history in the second century BCE medical text Huangdi Neijing ( Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon).

There are several different "schools" of acupuncture, Classical Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean acupuncture, practiced and taught throughout the world. It has been the subject of active scientific research since the late 20th century, but it remains controversial among conventional medical researchers and clinicians.

Due to the invasive nature of acupuncture treatments, it is difficult to create studies that use proper scientific controls. Some scholarly reviews have concluded that the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment can be explained largely through the placebo effect, while other studies have suggested some efficacy in the treatment of specific conditions. The World Health Organization published a review of controlled trials using acupuncture and concluded it was effective for the treatment of 28 conditions and there was evidence to suggest it may be effective for several dozen more, though this review has been criticized by several scientists for bias and a focus on studies with a poor methodology.

Reports from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the American Medical Association (AMA) and various government reports have studied and commented on the efficacy (or lack thereof) of acupuncture. There is general agreement that acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners using sterile needles, and that further research is appropriate.

Read more - How to find an acupuncturist.

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