Although a key component of traditional Chinese medicine, the vast majority of Americans, know little about how acupuncture, works, and its effectiveness, for many health issues and challenges. This is a form of alternative medicine, where very thin needles, are places, strategically, into various parts of the body. Although it is not based on the basics of traditional medicine, advocates, often, point to many successes, individuals have experienced, for many years. Although, initially, used to treat certain types of pain, it is often, used, today, for a variety of other, alternative purposes, and uses. Traditional Chinese Medicine explains, health is obtained, by balancing, the extremes, referred to, as, yin and yang, as a component of a life force, referred to, as, qi or chi.

1. How does it work?: The theory is, these life forces, flow, via, so – called, meridiens. These meridiens, and/ or energy flows, flow from approximately, 350 acupuncture points, in the human body. Although, there is no known, and distributed/ published, scientific studies/ proof, that these points, exist, or are important, there is a large, body – of – work, and clinical evidence, which indicates, it is helpful, for certain conditions, etc.

2. Potential uses: Studies at a variety of institutions (including Mayo Clinic, etc), and in China and Germany, etc, have shown, there appears to be, considerable evidence, of effectiveness, in certain instances. Many proclaim, it is great at addressing certain headaches, including migraines. There has been clinical evidence, it is helpful, in addressing, lower – back pain, neck pain, knee pains, and even, symptoms of osteoarthritis. Over 15 years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed, several conditions/ situations, where they claim, acupuncture has proven effective. These include: blood pressure (both, high and low); dental pain; arthritis (both, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid); facial pains and discomforts; sciatica; certain other health risks. In addition, they stated, it had the potential, to be useful, in assisting with other ailments, including, perhaps, dementia, Tourette syndrome, fibromyalgia, etc.

3. Potential risks: Even the safest techniques, may have potential risks. Acupuncture, should only be, and may only legally be, administered by a licensed health practitioner, trained in this technique. Some potential risks are: patients with bleeding disorders, or taking blood thinners; possibility of bleeding, and/ or bruising at insertion points; unsterilized needles (although acupuncture needles are regulated as medical devices, and, should be, used only, for single – use); and placed incorrectly, or too deeply. However, acupuncture, has generally, been considered, safe.

4. Caveat: Like most alternative approaches, acupuncture should be used, alongside traditional medical treatments. Be certain, you are, otherwise, healthy, and your pain/ discomfort, is not, from something, potentially life – threatening. Discuss thoroughly before beginning therapy.

5. My personal experience: In the early, to mid – 1970’s, I had the privilege of witnessing, extensive oral surgery, performed, exclusively, using acupuncture, for pain relief, successfully. About a decade later, after I had a tooth extracted, I was suffering from trisma (often referred to as lockjaw), and, after a few days, had an acupuncturist, perform a 30 minute treatment, and thoroughly, permanently eliminate the condition. For the last few years, I have, on a regular basis, used the services of an acupuncturist, to help, address the chronic symptoms/ ailments, of shoulder pain, arthritis (osteoarthritis), lower back pain, and aches, in my knees. From my personal experience, I enthusiastically, suggest it, as part of an overall, wellness program.

The more you know, the better, you’ll be. Read, learn, understand, and open – your – mind, to the possible benefits and uses of acupuncture. I strongly feel, you will be glad, you did!

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