Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that is used to treat various medical conditions. It is one of the most popular alternative medicine practices in China and has been practiced for thousands of years. In the past, it was used exclusively by traditional Chinese doctors but now it has become more mainstream in the West and many people are starting to use it as a form of treatment. Acupuncture is based on the concept of using fine, thin needles to manipulate the body's energy flow. Traditional Chinese medicine explains it as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force, known as chi or qi (chee) which is believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. The main idea is that it will stimulate the body's natural healing mechanism.
Acupuncture is used mainly to relieve discomfort associated with a variety of diseases and conditions, including:
The first thing that happens before an acupuncture session is a brief evaluation and conversation. Your acupuncturist will look at your tongue, pulse, and eyes to figure out which organs need stimulation or sedation. The acupuncturist will then place needles or near the specific points that they have determined need to be stimulated. The needles are either left in place for 10-30 minutes or are moved after a few minutes. During the session, many people report experiencing sensations of heat, tingling, or energy release. There are many different acupuncture points in the body and depending on the treatment, some points will be stimulated for a longer period of time, while others will be stimulated for only a few seconds. Some common areas that are used for treatments are the ears, hands and feet, stomach, back and lungs.
Some scientists believe that the needles cause the body to release endorphins, natural painkillers, and may boost blood flow and change brain activity. Skeptics say acupuncture works only because people believe it will, an effect called the placebo effect.
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