Acupuncture (from Latin, acus (needle) and punctura (to puncture) is a form of alternative medicine and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) involving thin needles inserted into the body at acupuncture points. It can be associated with the application of heat, pressure, or laser light to these same points. Acupuncture is commonly used for pain relief, though it is also used for a wide range of other conditions. ;] it is usually used as an adjunct to other forms of treatment.
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Acupuncture is safe when done by an appropriately trained practitioner using clean needle technique and single-use needles. When properly delivered, it has a low rate of mostly minor adverse effects.
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One type of acupuncture needle
Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine. It is commonly used for pain relief, though it is also used to treat a wide range of conditions. The majority of people who seek out acupuncture do so for musculoskeletal problems, including low back pain, shoulder stiffness, and knee pain.
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific acupuncture points along the skin of the body using thin needles. It can be associated with the application of heat, pressure, or laser light to these points. In modern acupuncture, a consultation is followed by taking the pulse on both arms and inspecting the tongue. This initial evaluation may last up to sixty minutes. Subsequent visits typically last about a half an hour. The number and frequency of acupuncture sessions vary, but most practitioners do not think one session is sufficient. A common treatment plan for a single complaint usually involves six to twelve treatments, to be carried out over a few months.A typical session entails lying still while approximately five to twenty needles are inserted; for the majority of cases, the needles will be left in place for ten to twenty minutes.
Although various different techniques of acupuncture practice have emerged, the method used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) seems to be the most widely adopted in the US. Traditional acupuncture involves needle insertion, moxibustion and cupping therapy. The Western medical acupuncture approach involves using acupuncture after a medical diagnosis.
The skin is sterilized and needles are inserted, frequently with a plastic guide tube. Needles may be manipulated in various ways, including spinning, flicking, or moving up and down relative to the skin. Since most pain is felt in the superficial layers of the skin, a quick insertion of the needle is recommended. Often the needles are stimulated by hand in order to cause a dull, localized, aching sensation that is called de qi, as well as “needle grasp,” a tugging feeling felt by the acupuncturist and generated by a mechanical interaction between the needle and skin. Acupuncture can be painful. The skill level of the acupuncturist may influence how painful the needle insertion is, and a sufficiently skilled practitioner may be able to insert the needles without causing any pain.
Acupuncture is a substantial part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Early acupuncture beliefs relied on concepts that are common in TCM, such as a life force energy called qi. Qi was believed to flow from the body’s primary organs (zang-fu organs) to the “superficial” body tissues of the skin, muscles, tendons, bones, and joints through channels called meridians. Acupuncture points where needles are inserted are mainly (but not always) found at locations along the meridians. Acupuncture points not found along a meridian are called extraordinary points and those with no designated site are called “A-shi” points.
In TCM, disease is generally perceived as a disharmony or imbalance in energies such as yin, yang, qi, xuĕ, zàng-fǔ, meridians, and of the interaction between the body and the environment. Therapy is based on which “pattern of disharmony” can be identified. For example, some diseases are believed to be caused by meridians being invaded with an excess of wind, cold, and damp. In order to determine which pattern is at hand, practitioners examine things like the color and shape of the tongue, the relative strength of pulse-points, the smell of the breath, the quality of breathing, or the sound of the voice. TCM and its concept of disease do not strongly differentiate between the cause and effect of symptoms.
By the 19th century, acupuncture had become commonplace in many areas of the world. Americans and Britains began showing interest in acupuncture in the early 20th century. Western practitioners abandoned acupuncture’s traditional beliefs in spiritual energy, pulse diagnosis, and the cycles of the moon, sun or the body’s rhythm. Diagrams of the flow of spiritual energy, for example, conflicted with the West’s own anatomical diagrams. It adopted a new set of ideas for acupuncture based on tapping needles into nerves. In Europe it was speculated that acupuncture may allow or prevent the flow of electricity in the body, as electrical pulses were found to make a frog’s leg twitch after death.
The West eventually created a belief system based on Travell trigger points that were believed to inhibit pain. They were in the same locations as China’s spiritually identified acupuncture points, but under a different nomenclature. The first elaborate Western treatise on acupuncture was published in 1683 by Willem ten Rhijne.
New practices were adopted in the 20th century, such as using a cluster of needles, electrified needles, or leaving needles inserted for up to a week. A lot of emphasis developed on using acupuncture on the ear. Acupuncture research organizations were founded in the 1950s and acupuncture services became available in modern hospitals. China, where acupuncture was believed to have originated, was increasingly influenced by Western medicine. Meanwhile, acupuncture grew in popularity in the US. The US Congress created the Office of Alternative Medicine in 1992 and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) declared support for acupuncture for some conditions in November 1997. In 1999, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine was created within the NIH. Acupuncture became the most popular alternative medicine in the US.
Acupuncture is popular in China, the US, Australia, and Europe including all five Nordic countries It is most heavily practiced in China and is one of the most common alternative medicine practices in Europe. In Switzerland, acupuncture has become the most frequently used alternative medicine since 2004. In the United Kingdom, a total of 4 million acupuncture treatments were administered in 2009. Acupuncture is used in most pain clinics and hospices in the UK. An estimated 1 in 10 adults in Australia used acupuncture in 2004. In Japan, it is estimated that 25 percent of the population will try acupuncture at some point. Approximately half of users surveyed indicated likelihood to seek such remedies in the future. Less than one percent of the US population reported having used acupuncture in the early 1990s. By the early 2010s, more than 14 million Americans reported having used acupuncture as part of their health care.
In the US, acupuncture is increasingly (as of 2014) used at academic medical centers, and is usually offered through CAM centers or anesthesia and pain management services. Examples include those at Harvard University, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, and UCLA.
The use of acupuncture in Germany increased by 20% in 2007, after the German acupuncture trials supported its efficacy for certain uses. In 2011, there were more than one million users, and insurance companies have estimated that two-thirds of German users are women. As a result of the trials, German public health insurers began to cover acupuncture for chronic low back pain and osteoarthritis of the knee.
Main article: Regulation of acupuncture
There are various government and trade association regulatory bodies for acupuncture in the United Kingdom, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Japan, Canada, and in European countries and elsewhere. The World Health Organization recommends that before being licensed or certified, an acupuncturist receive 200 hours of specialized training if they are a physician and 2,500 hours for non-physicians; many governments have adopted similar standards.
In China, the practice of acupuncture is regulated by the Chinese Medicine Council that was formed in 1999 by the Legislative Council. It includes a licensing exam and registration, as well as degree courses approved by the board. Canada has acupuncture licensing programs in the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec; standards set by the Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Association of Canada is used in provinces without government regulation. Regulation in the US began in the 1970s in California, which was eventually followed by every state but Wyoming and Idaho. Licensing requirements vary greatly from state to state. The needles used in acupuncture are regulated in the US by the Food and Drug Administration. In some states acupuncture is regulated by a board of medical examiners, while in others by the board of licensing, health or education.