Acupuncture is one of the main branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine used for millennia to treat patients. Based on traditional Chinese philosophy, our body – as a part of the world – has to be in the balance to work properly. Diseases are the conditions where this balance is disturbed in one or more ways. The whole idea of traditional Chinese medicine is helping the body to cure himself via different methods which can help to improve the body balance.
Among all the potential methods of rebalancing, acupuncture has some important advantages. Most of its advantages come from an important point. The only therapeutic material used in acupuncture is needles. Nowadays disposable filliform fine needles are available all around the world in reasonable prices. Using no other material (herbal, animal or synthetic) consumed by the patients decreases the risk of side effects and interactions seen in both conventional (usual) and traditional (with herbal, animal or mineral bases) drugs. For example, nobody have been reported to be addicted to needles! The other advantage of using no drugs in acupuncture treatment is that an acupuncturist can go anywhere in the world with a briefcase full of needles and cure all his patients without any limitation. This makes acupuncture a proper method for physicians moving to remote areas or other places with limited access. The other advantage of needles compared to drugs is their easier storage and less risk of being damaged or spoiled.
As mentioned before, acupuncture is one of these methods which provides curing options in a safe and relatively cheap way. This safety besides the effectiveness of acupuncture practice has made it a popular medical practice all around the world. Nowadays, acupuncturist are providing health services to patients in all corners of the world from Australia to the United States and from China to the Europe. There are also schools of acupuncture where physicians are learning principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine and practical courses of acupuncture to integrate their conventional medical practices with acupuncture as the most popular form of “complementary and alternative medicine”.
Acupuncture is based of inserting fine filliform disposable needles in specific therapeutic points which are called acupoints. Acupoints are the places where internal energy (qi) is more abundant and can be considered as gates where the fellow of qi can be controlled and adjusted. There are more than 400 standard acupoints introduced by WHO in almost all parts of the body from toe tips to the top of the head. Acupoints are located based on anatomical landmarks, special parts of the body which can be seen or touched over the skin such as bony parts, skin folds, hair lines, etc. Each acupoint has its own therapeutic effect(s). In a usual acupuncture practice a combination of a couple of acupoints are chosen as a prescription to be used in a regular timely manner to treat a condition. The depth of needle insertion is based on the anatomical position of the point and the purposed therapeutic effect. The depth of insertion hardly exceeds one centimeter. The deepest points are in pelvic area where the long needles may be inserted deep enough to reach the therapeutic points (sometimes few centimeters). The needles used for acupuncture are so fine (0.18-0.4 mm thick) that they produce minimal or no pain during insertion. Nowadays there are disposable needles available with a very affordable price. Therefore reusing a needle makes no sense. This has made acupuncture extremely safe with no risk of infectious diseases.
Besides the basic use of acupuncture, there are other techniques which can improve the effectiveness of treatment and can be used if indicated. They include (but not limited to) electroacupuncture, moxibustion, guasha, cupping, blood-letting and thread embedding.