The World Health Organization has cited 104 different conditions
that acupuncture may help, including the common cold, sinusitis,
gastrointestinal disorders, sciatica and tennis elbow. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is the Federal Government's lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and has this to say about acupuncture.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of alternative medicine, this ancient Chinese art. It is a technique in which metal needles are used to puncture selected points of the body and induce stimulations by various manipulation methods. The earliest success in this therapy is recorded by a historian of the Han Dyansty (206 BC -220 AD ) where a doctor brought a patient out of coma by applying acupuncture needles. The doctor was Pein Chueh, who later summed up his forerunners medical experience and set forth diagnostic methods. The story started with stone needles and later nine metal needles (four of gold and five of silver) were discovered from graves dating back to the second century BC.
Therapists believe that when the body is unwell the flow of the vital energy of the body or the Qi (pronounced Chee), as it is known, that normally flows through 14 pathways called meredians, gets blocked for some reason.Inserting needles into points along the meredian path or twirling them or charging them with electrical impulse unblocks the chi and restores the health. Many doctors use acupuncture to treat specific conditions only - such as pain (largely rheumatism and arthritis) and also addiction. Some acupuncturists apply their techniques to virtually any conditions presented to them by a sick or troubled patient. Because of a holistic approach, acupuncturists are trained to look for theonset of disease before the patient is even aware of anything being wrong.
The theory of Channels and Collaterals in Chinese medicine maintains that all points (in acupuncture a point means a specific spot on the body where needling is done to evoke certain reactions) are capable of both reflecting functional changes of the viscera on the body surface and passing sensations from the body surface to the viscera.
According to Chinese traditional medical books there were 12 channels, 15 collaterals and 8 extraordinary channels interwoven into a system of channels and collaterals linking the viscera and the body surface, the head and limbs into one integrated whole. The treatments involve a dozen or fewer disposable needles. While occasionally uncomfortable, the insertions are almost never painful. The needles used are so tiny, most patients only feel a slight impression. Some practitioners deliver a low voltage electrical impulse through the needles to increase pain relief; at higher frequencies, it is a means of anesthesia. It often takes 10 sessions for symptoms to resolve, though some difficult problems may require up to a year of treatment.
Men in their mid-thirties have an increased risk in areas in which acupuncture is very helpful. This is an age when men begin to experience (high) blood pressure, prostrate inflammation, and sore backs, knees and elbows.
Moxibustion is closely associated with acupuncture. The therapeutic effect of moxibustion is produced by the heat of slowly burning moxa wool sticks (moxa wool is the shredded dried leaves of Chinese wormwood) held near the diseased area or acupuncture point, or moxa cones placed directly on or above the area. Though acupuncture and moxibustion are two different methods, both are applied to points selected on the basis of the Chinese theory of Channels and Collaterals.
The Chinese Canon of Medicine states that moxibustion may be applied when acupuncture proves ineffective, giving the rationale for the long-term juxtaposition of the two. The aroma given off by burning moxa has been determined by modern science to be due to the volatile oil content in its leaves, which is effective against certain disease-producing bacteria.
In the beginning direct moxibustion was applied, which was administered by placing a moxa cone directly over the point on the skin. The moxa cone is generally about the size of a half date stone and the smallest being the size of a grain. Currently, the stick is made by rolling the moxawool firmly in soft paper and shaping it like a large - size cigarette. On application, the ignited stick is held over the acupuncture point, and the duration and intensity of the heat is controlled to produce the desired effect at the point.