What is acupuncture and what are the benefits?

Acupuncture originated in ancient China, but it was not until President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972 did acupuncture gain attention in the United States. Acupuncture is the stimulation of special pressure points along the surface of the body and involves the insertion of thin needles and sometimes the application of heat or massage. It is a form of alternative medicine and is a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is different from Western medicine in a number of ways. A key TCM idea is the concept of the meridians. According to TCM theory, the human body is connected and operates through the network of 14 major meridians. According to TCM, stimulating specific acupuncture points corrects imbalances in the flow of qi (“natural energy”) through the meridian channels. When qi is balanced in the meridians of the body, the human body is in a harmonious state and in a state of good health. Emotional strain, stress, lack of exercise, overexertion, seasonal changes, or poor diet can all lead to blockages of qi.

Medical acupuncture is the term used to describe acupuncture performed by a doctor trained and licensed in Western medicine who has also had thorough training in acupuncture as a specialty practice. A physician who specializes in medical acupuncture, like Dr. Kelly Hsu, understands how to utilize Eastern and Western medicine in the most effective way for the patient.

Acupuncture is known to help a variety of conditions, although the primary use of acupuncture is for pain relief including, but not limited to: back pain, headaches, migraines, digestive disorders, and neurological and muscular disorders. The use of acupuncture has found growing acceptance in oncology practices across the country, particularly as an adjunct in the management of patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and palliative care. Many nationally-recognized cancer centers have found acupuncture to be extremely useful for chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, and neuropathic pain, as well as cancer-related pain, fatigue, and anorexia. Acupuncture is also helpful for xerostomia (i.e, dry mouth) from head and neck radiation and medication-induced vasomotor symptoms (e.g, hot flashes and sweating). Anxiety, depression, and insomnia can also be improved with acupuncture.


One thought on “What is acupuncture and what are the benefits?

  1. I had heard that acupuncture helped with muscle pain before, but I didn’t know that it can be used for migraines as well. I have an aunt who is constantly taking pills for migraines and I don’t think that it’s good for her. Maybe acupuncture will help her get off those pills and get feeling better. I’m definitely going to see if she’s interested. Thanks for the useful information!


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