Acupuncture is an ancient practice that originated in China. Thin needles are inserted into precise points in the skin in order to correct imbalances in the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there's an active principle that forms the parts of any living thing. This principle is known as "qi" (pronounced "chee") and is commonly translated as a living thing's "life force" or "life energy."
While acupuncture is used to treat a variety of health disorders, it's most commonly used for pain management.
History of Acupuncture
Historians are uncertain as to when acupuncture first came into practice. Archeologists have found sharpened stones, called "Bian shi," in China that may have been used for acupuncture, which would mean the practice began as far back as the Stone Age. As the practice evolved, bone and stone needles were refined, and then they were eventually replaced with metal needles during the Han Dynasty.
Over the centuries, the practice of acupuncture spread to other countries, beginning with Korea, and then on to Japan and Taiwan. Eventually, the practice spread to Europe and, beginning in the 1970s, gained popularity in the United States where it's now regularly offered by naturopathic doctors.
As more people learn about the benefits of taking a preventative approach to their health, acupuncture is gaining in popularity. By visiting an acupuncturist or a naturopathic doctor for acupuncture just two to four times per year, you can balance your body to improve your overall health, vitality and energy while your risk for health disorders is dramatically reduced.
Common Uses for Acupuncture
Acupuncture uses needles to break through the skin in order to touch the meridians in your body that carry energy. The most common health disorders that acupuncture is used for are pain-related conditions. These include back pain, neck pain, arthritis, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, menstrual pain, dental pain, headaches, chemotherapy-induced vomiting or nausea and any other disorder that causes pain as a primary symptom. Needles are inserted strategically around the body to address the specific pain.
Other health disorders that acupuncture is often used for include:
Ear, nose and throat disorders such as hay fever, nerve deafness, sinusitis, poor eyesight, ringing in the ears and sore throat
Addiction to alcohol, tobacco or drugs
Psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety or stress
Respiratory disorders such as bronchitis, asthma, the common cold or flu
There are many other types of health disorders that can be effectively treated with acupuncture on its own or in conjunction with other medical treatments. There are relatively few risks associated with acupuncture as long as you seek treatment from a certified acupuncture practitioner.
How to Achieve the Same Effect at Home
If you don’t have access to a certified acupuncture practitioner in your area, you can learn about acupressure points in order to experience effects similar to acupuncture. Acupressure is also a form of Chinese natural medicine that addresses health problems by reducing the blockages of qi. Acupressure puts pressure on precise points in your body -- meridians -- that carry energy. Acupuncture and acupressure both encourage energy flow so that optimum health can be maintained or specific ailments can be alleviated.
First, it's important to learn where the pressure or "trigger" points are on your body and which pressure points apply to certain organs or body areas. An acupressure chart of the human body and pressure points is a great tool to have at your side when learning to use acupressure at home. With practice, you'll be able to use acupressure as a natural healing technique for alleviating headaches, nausea or other issues.
If you're experiencing any severe symptoms, it's important to visit a physician for further guidance. Otherwise, you can try one of these two methods to find relief. Acupuncture may sound scary at first, but it could just be the ticket to treating what ails you.
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