A major component of traditional Chinese medicine is acupuncture. Acupuncture has been around for almost 3,000 years and is often used to treat pain. The holistic medical practice helps to heal illnesses and improve well-being by placing needles into very specific points of the skin.


When the skin is needled, the acupuncture points regulate the way that the body functions. The practice is known to not only alleviate pain but increase blood circulation and reduce inflammation. The stimulation that acupuncture creates works to increase the body’s endorphins as well as natural pain relievers.


So what exactly does acupuncture treat? In China, acupuncture is usually viewed as a complementary treatment for a number of health conditions. There it is often used to help treat everything from diabetes to asthma. However, although acupuncture is also very popular in the West, here it is usually used in care plans to treat conditions such as joint or lower back pain. Some even use acupuncture to help gastrointestinal issues, stress, or other emotional problems.


An acupuncturist will take a medical history and listen to symptoms to help determine the specific pattern of imbalance that is the root of the problem. In Chinese medicine, Qi, or “life force” is an important concept. Qi is functional activity and refined energy and the goal of acupuncture is to rebalance the qi in the body, promoting better health.


Qi is what flows through the meridian system. This system links different areas of the body together and each organ has its own meridian system that helps that specific area of the body. It is in these channels, called meridians, that acupuncturists place the needles. The needles used for this practice are small and solid as they go between body tissue 


Acupuncture treatments are meant to be restorative and relaxing. Many people believe that needles must mean that the practice is painful, however, it is virtually painless as the needles are hair-thin. 


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize the benefits of acupuncture and list a plethora of symptoms, conditions, and diseases that can be treated effectively with the traditional medicine. 


Anyone who is interested in acupuncture must ensure that they are seeking treatment with a well-trained professional in controlled trials.