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What is acupunture?


An ancient form of medical treatment believed to have been practiced in China as early as 4000 years ago, acupuncture was the subject of a treatise in a Taoist document entitled The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, written about 2300 years ago.

This explains that the body houses 14 meridians, or channels, of which 12 are bilateral and two are not, and it is through these meridians that 'vital energy' flows.

Along these meridians are situated 365 points where energy is concentrated (acupuncturists have since increased the number of points to 800). These points are areas of low resistance and can be detected with the aid of a small electronic device.

Through the meridians of the body flow the life forces of 'yin' and 'yang' (variously termed the positive and negative or the male and female) , and these forces are in harmonious balance within a heal thy individual.

Any change or obstruction in the flow of energy is believed to manifest itself in some form of physiological ailment. Different organs of the body are associated with the different meridians, and the insertion of a needle into a point on the relevant meridian is thought to release the obstruction and restore the flow of energy. Acupuncture needles may be used hot or cold.

They are made of gold, silver, iron or steel (stainless steel being most common nowadays) and have a length of 3-30 cm. The depth of insertion varies according to climate and season; the points of low resistance are farther below the skin in winter than in summer.

Acupuncture has many applications in medicine. Used in a particular way, it can deaden the body to pain and shock so that complex surgery can be performed on patients who are wide awake. It is used to bring relief from various other physical problems, such as arthritis, epilepsy and chronic backache, and is particularly useful in the treatment of nervous disorders and tension-induced ailments, such as #migraine#, #asthma# and #hypertension#.

Acupuncture also embraces certain forms of massage and heat treatment which are concentrated on the acupuncture points acupressure and moxibustion, respectively. The latter is a heat treatment involving the direct application of granules to the skin or the use of a cigar-shaped, incense-like stick, which is allowed to smoulder close to the surface of the skin.

Chinese physicians have been using techniques of acupuncture for thousands of years but it is only recently that they have come to the notice of Western doctors. The treatment is viewed with a certain amount of skepticism as no scientific explanation has been found for its success. During the last decade, however, there has been a growing interest in alternative forms of medicine and acupuncture is now being studied and practiced in many Western countries.

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