The precise chronological origin of acupuncture as a medical procedure is unknown, but it’s thought to date back to as many as 3,000 years ago, in ancient China. Today it’s popular all around the world as a natural treatment for a variety of disorders and discomforts.
In its ancient form, the process, which involves inserting thin needles into specific areas of musculature, was based on the idea that energy imbalances in the body were the root cause of illness. While that may be true in the broadest sense, modern practitioners tend to think of acupuncture as less of a mystical intervention and more as a way of subtly stimulating the body’s nervous system.
What can it do?
The efficacy of acupuncture depends on a number of different factors. A person’s unique biological makeup, medical history, and current symptoms can affect this. The procedure can alleviate the symptoms of a wide range of health problems. Among these are migraines and other headaches; arthritis and tendinitis; chronic fatigue; respiratory illnesses; skin conditions; digestive problems; and even sleep disorders.
In fact, a scientific review in the latest edition of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine provided the results of a meta-analysis of nine studies with a total of 944 patients, which looked at using acupuncture to treat chronic pain-related insomnia (CPRI). The authors concluded that acupuncture was not only a safe treatment for CPRI but a highly effective one.
Who is getting it?
Some Western physicians do remain skeptical. The National Institutes of Health formally recognize it as a viable treatment option for general and chronic pain.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are going alternative, too. A survey conducted by the American Hospital Association indicated that at least 42 percent of U.S. hospitals offer at least one form of alternative treatment. These 80 facilities in the U.S. and U.K. specifically provide acupuncture.
What’s the future of acupuncture?
More than ten million acupuncture treatments are already being administered annually in the U.S. As acupuncture grows popular in our healthcare system more and more, we’ll continue to discover new uses for it. For example, researchers are now exploring using acupuncture as a complementary cancer treatment, since it has been shown to reduce both cancer-related pain and chemotherapy-induced nausea in humans as well as mice.
It’s one of the most prevalent forms of complementary and alternative medicine on the market and acupuncture bridges the gap between evidence-based medicine and “fringe” healthcare. Individuals should know that regardless of what stigmas may persist in the field of alternative medicine, acupuncture really does work — “pointedly” so.