Homeland of Acupuncture and Its Further Dissemination
Acupuncture is surrounded by many legends. It is credited with miraculous healing properties that cure a variety of diseases from depression and allergies to infertility, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases. Nevertheless, there are many disputes on its medicinal properties. Some authors have questioned the efficacy and safety of acupuncture arguing that acupuncture is a placebo effect. Acupuncture is a key area in traditional Chinese medicine. This method of alternative medicine entails a special arrangement and manipulation of needles at various points on the human body. According to advocates of this method, such method contributes to improving person’s health and well-being. The method is used to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes. In some Western countries such as the United States, acupuncture is rapidly gaining popularity as a form of alternative medicine. The topic of the current paper is to study different points of views on such alternative medicine as acupuncture.
Acupuncture is an old method of treatment. Religious and philosophical teachings of ancient China had a significant impact on acupuncture. The author Peter Mole (2014) states that “acupuncture is one of the principal components of an age-old system of medicine known as Chinese medicine” (p. 9). This way of treating diseases was recorded and presented in the Taoist philosophy.
Acupuncture started to spread actively around Europe at the end of the XX century (Stux & Pomeranz, 2012). In the book Acupuncture: Textbook and Atlas, it is stated, “Western scientists only began to take acupuncture seriously in 1972 after diplomatic visits to China increased in frequency” (Stux & Pomeranz, 2012, p. 4). Numerous researches in this area were conducted in different countries giving rise to many comments and publications in medical journals and newspapers.
Currently, acupuncture is used as a soothing or invigorating reception in a variety of pathological conditions. Moreover, it is used for the treatment of chronic diseases, and in surgeries, for example, in cases of the bone fracture to stimulate the formation of bone callus, and in dropsy to extract the accumulated water from the subcutaneous tissue.
Mechanism of Action
According to the ancient healers of the East, the human body contains special points located in the areas where life energy circulates (Stux & Pomeranz, 2012). Acupuncture points have a specific location and are of a small size. They are used in different ways with the purpose to normalize the functional state of individual systems or organs. In almost all people, these points have the same anatomical location. Their irritation is the basis for the acupuncture. Every person from the birth has these points. They have a specific location and purpose. Their location can be determined on anatomical lines, areas, or through traditional channels (meridians). As a rule, the acupuncture points are stimulates with special needles, the selection of which should be based on a person’s age, the nature of illness, as well as compliance of the needle with the specific part of the body. The impact of applying needles to each of these points has a positive effect on a particular organ or a separate system of organs.
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The followers of the traditional school of acupuncture rooted in ancient beliefs and the philosophy of Taoism consider illness as an imbalance and disturbance of the circulation of Yin and Yang energies (Stux & Pomeranz, 2012). Yin is the feminine part of the symbol. In Chinese philosophy, it is a symbol of all the dark and negative. Yang symbolizes masculine part. In contrast to Yin, it is a symbol of positive and active energy. Yin energy exists within the body, and the energy of Yang comes from the outside. If one of the types of energy dominates then Qi balance is disrupted and a person gets sick (Stux & Pomeranz, 2012). The aim of acupuncture is to balance the Yin and Yang, harmonize them, and, thus, adjust the distribution of vital energy Qi. In support of the therapeutic effect, it is proposed that the impact acupuncture has on points leads to the harmonization and recovers the proper movement of energy.
Energy in the human body flows through invisible channels, called meridians. There are 14 of them (Stux & Pomeranz, 2012). They are considered to be biologically active points or acupuncture points. A person is healthy if energy flows freely along the meridians. If meridians are damaged, energy cannot easily move through the channels. Therefore, a person gets sick or feels tired.
Proponents of this method of treatment claim that acupuncture restores a burst of energy, greatly improving the patient's condition (Stux & Pomeranz, 2012). Needles recover the correct energy flow and, accordingly, facilitate the proper operation of the organ, for which the current meridian or biologically active point is responsible. The production of basic biologically active substances is also stimulated (Stux & Pomeranz, 2012). It regulates the work of certain organs and body as a whole. In such a way, people experience pain relief and improvement of circulation. Inflammatory reactions and the spasm of blood vessels and muscles are removed. Acupuncture improves the nutrition of tissues and normal functioning of the nervous system. It also boosts immune system.
Classical acupuncture uses needles. Needles are approximately one centimeter in length and about 0.15 millimeters in diameter (Mole, 2014). The needles are inserted in the points according to the rules of ancient medicine. The depth of insertion of needles, their direction, length of the procedure, and methods of placing and removing needles are extremely essential. There are several techniques to introduce the needles with the minimal pain. The successful course of treatment should last from three to twelve sessions for about 15-60 minutes (Mole, 2014). The patient’s role in this treatment is also extremely significant. If a patient listens to doctor’s recommendations and does not miss the sessions, he/she may expect positive outcome.
Thus, acupuncture is a traditional method of influence on energy points. However, more than twenty other ways to influence the points in addition to needles are used to enhance the treatment. For instance, other ways include placement of special therapeutic balls, cupping massage with magnetic tips, heating of points with infrared rays or laser, the introduction of drugs on a meridian, the use leech or bee’s secretion on acupuncture points.
In contrast to the actions of pharmaceutical products, visiting the acupuncture sessions at the competent organization has virtually no side effects. This therapeutic method simultaneously combines the relative simplicity of implementation and positive effects on the damaged organs in the human body. Scientists have found positive effects of acupuncture treatment on the cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory, nervous, and other body systems (Mole, 2014). It is caused by the removal of the neuro-reflex disturbances that underlie a particular pathology. To this day, medical researches aimed at studying the health effects of acupuncture in detail reveal new ways to apply this unique therapeutic technique (Mole, 2014).
The method includes several areas, such as prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation (Mole, 2014). Classical acupuncture focuses on disease prevention. However, when a person is already ill, acupuncture is also highly effective. With the help of acupuncture, a significant improvement can be achieved if patients are suffering from many ailments. They include osteochondrosis, radiculitis, herniation of intervertebral discs, and initial manifestations of scoliosis in children. According to many experts, acupuncture also treats such illnesses as neurotic states, including neurasthenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, sleep disturbances, stuttering, tics, migraine headaches, and tension headaches (Mole, 2014).
Many specialists affirm that this method is extremely effective in the treatment of infertility (Mole, 2014). The method is effective because, stimulation of specific points results in the enhancement of blood flow in the pelvic organs (Mole, 2014). It leads to the stabilization of hormones. In turn, it allows to stimulate the work of testes in men and ovaries in women. It is the most important factor in eliminating infertility. Acupuncture is often used as a complement to the main course of treatment, as well as independently (Mole, 2014). To treat infertility using acupuncture, a person should be prepared in advance for the long course, which lasts 2-3 months (Mole, 2014). The specialist involves specific points for the treatment of infertility. They include the meridian of the bladder, kidney meridians, and stomach meridians (Mole, 2014). A healer also involves the points in the spleen meridian and the liver meridian (Mole, 2014).
In addition to physical diseases, acupuncture can be applied to the treatment of the inner state of the person. This method promotes relaxation of the patient. In such a way, a person rests from the everyday problems and gains new energy. Acupuncture treats not only the body but also mind. Many healers consider this the most important factor in the treatment of any disease.
There are certain aspects that facilitate the healing process. In terms of the treatment of any disease, Chinese medicine attaches special importance to the state of the psyche, the living conditions, working conditions, physical activity, and sexual health (Mole, 2014). These aspects play an extremely important role in every treatment method including acupuncture. Person’s mood and the desire to recover play a great role in healing process. Besides, environment is also significant in this method of treatment. For example, the energy in the environment can promote a speedy recovery.
Despite numerous positive effects of this type of treatment, acupuncture can have also some negative outcomes or be ineffective. For example, it is not suggested to apply acupuncture if a patient suffers from diseases of the cardiovascular system with severe disturbance and heart rate in the stage of decompensation, hyperthyroidism, tuberculosis in the active form, and malignancies. This method of treatment is also not desirable to use if hereditary diseases of the nervous system, diabetes, and diseases of kidneys and lungs are present (Hamwee, 2012). It is difficult to access the outcomes of acupuncture, as still there is no exact evidence that proves that complete recovery was achieved with the help of acupuncture. Despite this fact, this method of treatment has a positive effect as it influences both person’s mind and body.
Acupuncture is the ancient healing technique. It has a therapeutic effect on the human body by applying special needles into certain points of the body. Over the past years, non-drug eastern treatment method became extremely widespread. In the modern world, there is the rapidly growing interest in the therapeutic procedure. It is largely associated with the desire of both doctors and patients to limit the usage of medicine and substitute it with non-drug ways to combat diseases. The experience gained from eastern medicine that has been around for centuries is highly important due to the large allergization of the population and the endless side effects of most modern pharmaceuticals. Despite this, there are still numerous debates regarding the beneficial effects if this kind of treatment.