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By J. Brian Keith
To preface discussion about the benefits of acupuncture, lets talk about what acupuncture is. First used in China more than 2000 years ago, and is one of the oldest medical procedures known to man. It is a family of procedures that stimulates the anatomy of the body and helps to balance the energy flow throughout the body. It is the same type of acupuncture that is practiced in the United Sates today, through the use of tiny, metallic needles placed in affected areas and manipulated by hand or by electrical stimulation.
Acupuncture is the foundation for Traditional Chinese Medicine and is based on the belief that there are two opposing and forces in our body. They are known as the Yin and Yang of the entire person. The Yin is representative of the cold, slow, or passive principle, and yang represents the hot, excited or active principle. A healthy state is achieved by maintaining a balance state of the yin and yang. This is done through vital pathways or meridians that allow for the flow of qi, or vital energy. The vital energy flow occurs along pathways known as meridians. These meridians connect over 2,000 acupuncture points along the body. There are 12 main meridians, and 8 secondary meridians. Although traditional western medicine does not completely understand how acupuncture works, the proof that it does work has been shown in several studies conducted by western medical facilities.
Does it work? According to the National Institute of Health, the answer is absolutely yes. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in many areas of health care. Areas such as postoperative nausea, chemotherapy side effects, osteoarthritis, low back pain, headache, menstrual cramps, addiction, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, just to name a few. The study revealed that acupuncture was able to provide pain relief, improve function and mobility of joints due to arthritis inflammation, and served to complement standard care.
There are many who doubt the effectiveness of acupuncture, although once they become patients, they become believers. It has been suggested that acupuncture works and produces its effects through regulating the nervous system. The theory suggests that since acupuncture produces its effect through regulation of the nervous system, it induces the release of endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites on the body. There is also the theory that acupuncture alters the brain chemistry by the changing the neurotransmitters in the brain.
There is no doubt acupuncture was beneficial in the study. Although acupuncture is classified as an alternative medicine therapy, and there is still much to be understood about the way it works, it is a proven aid in maintaining optimal health.
What about the healthy individual, can acupuncture provide a benefit to them? Absolutely. Because acupuncture works off the belief that we must maintain balance of our vital energy flow in order to remain healthy, acupuncture serves as the tool for realignment. Our vital energy flow can be out of balance, and we still feel and appear quite healthy.
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