Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into the human body to treat an illness. It is an ancient practice of healing that began over 2,000 years ago in China. The early Chinese believed that needles improve the flow of energy or ‘chi’ in the body. When the energy is in balance and flows properly, the person is restored to health.
Photo: Acupuncture needles inserted into the face (© Cecilie 066).
The View of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that an invisible energy flows through the body. This energy flows through channels called meridians. The energy is called ‘chi’. When someone is in good health, the chi is in balance and flows properly. When the flow of chi is interrupted, disease begins to take place.
To cure the disease condition, Traditional Chinese Medicine may use acupuncture. It may also use herbal medicines and other procedures along with acupuncture. When using acupuncture, needles are inserted into the body. The needles are inserted into specific points in the body. The needles are stimulated manually. Sometimes they are stimulated with mild electricity.
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that the needles will restore the flow of chi. As the chi begins to flow normally and is balanced, health is restored. So, how do the needles bring about good health? In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the answer is that acupuncture restores the energy balance in the body.
The View of Modern Science
In modern science, it is thought that acupuncture can help relieve pain. When done correctly, needles may cause the body to produce chemicals that reduce pain.
In modern medicine, the belief is that needles help the body produce pain reducing substances. This makes acupuncture useful in reducing pain. However, there is no proof that acupuncture can treat other diseases such as cancer.
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