Understanding the basics of acupuncture can help you determine if it may be right for you.

Advocates believe that health results from an equilibrium between opposing forces of yin and yang, with illness the result of any imbalance.

Acupuncture involves inserting needles at various sites on the body. These needles are generally single-use sterile needles inserted by trained professionals.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture, an ancient Eastern healing practice that involves inserting needles at various points on the body in order to unclog energy channels, stems from an understanding that health and well-being depend on a delicate balance between opposing yet interdependent forces known as yin and yang – something the Chinese healing tradition sees disease as evidence for.

Acupuncture can be safely practiced when administered by a licensed practitioner using disposable, sterile needles in each session. Most people experience minimal soreness and minor bleeding or bruising at the point of needle insertion; more serious adverse reactions such as infection and puncture of internal organs occur rarely; risks are increased if needles are used with certain populations such as people who have bleeding disorders or take blood thinners.

Before beginning treatment, an acupuncturist typically spends from several minutes to several hours interviewing their patients and reviewing their health histories in detail. This process of questioning and diagnosis is integral to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

An acupuncturist may perform a tongue and pulse assessment to gain more information about a patient’s overall health and inform his or her assessment and treatment plan.

Once an acupuncturist understands the source of their patient’s health issues, they devise a treatment strategy which may involve any combination of herbal remedies, body work like Tui Na (literally “pinch and pull”), Moxibustion (heat therapy), Cupping or other forms of therapy – in order to address all aspects of life with TCM’s holistic approach promoting greater overall wellness.

Though acupuncture has been around for millennia, modern research into its mechanism of action is just starting out. Some researchers believe acupuncture works by stimulating the central nervous system to release pain-relieving chemicals known as endorphins; this can alter how your brain processes pain signals. Other research indicates acupuncture can influence involuntary nervous functions like blood pressure or heart rate as well as stimulating production of new cells which aid in healing injured tissue.

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How Does Acupuncture Work?

Sticking needles into your body might sound painful, but acupuncture can actually be very relaxing and an excellent treatment for pain. Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine and has been practiced for millennia to address illnesses like backache and migraine headaches; more recently research suggests it may also benefit certain mental health conditions as well as inflammatory disorders. But before beginning any acupuncture treatments it’s essential that you speak with your physician first – they will help determine whether acupuncture is right for you as well as recommend practitioners who meet standard set forth education/training standards.

Acupuncture works on the theory that health depends on an equilibrium of complementary extremes of Qi, or chi. Acupuncturists believe disruptions of this vital life force lead to illness; needles are used to restore equilibrium by stimulating 361 points along 14 major meridians or energy channels of your body to restore it back into balance.

Each acupuncture needle causes a small injury at its point of insertion, and this signals the body to respond in various ways: stimulating immunity, increasing circulation to affected areas, healing wounds faster or altering nerve transmissions. While its exact causes remain unknown, researchers believe these effects result from how acupuncture stimulates your nervous system.

To prevent complications associated with improper acupuncture technique – including bleeding or infection – it’s wise to select only licensed acupuncturists. They have undergone extensive education programs and passed state board exams before becoming certified practitioners; additionally they also undergo ongoing professional development activities in order to keep their license active.

Before receiving acupuncture, make sure you inform your physician of any health conditions you are currently facing, such as bleeding disorders or blood thinner use. Electric stimulation from acupuncture needles could interfere with certain medical devices like pacemakers. You should also inform the acupuncturist if you are pregnant.

Most people do not experience any discomfort during acupuncture due to the thin needles being used; however, those with sensitive skin or allergies to metal may feel discomfort as the needle is inserted – you might experience a pinch, sting or ache for just a moment when insertion takes place.

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What are the Benefits of Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has long been used as an effective treatment option for numerous painful conditions, such as back and neck pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, tennis elbow and seasonal allergies. More recently it’s also shown to ease seasonal allergy symptoms, stress incontinence in women as well as nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Research confirms that acupuncture helps relieve chronic pain by stimulating the brain to produce chemicals which block or reduce pain signals in the spinal cord and brain. Furthermore, it has also been found to enhance blood circulation and decrease inflammation.

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that injuries and illness are due to imbalances in our energy flow, or “qi.” Acupuncture can help restore this balance by inserting needles into specific points on our bodies’ meridians, such as hands, feet, arms, legs as well as over the head and major organs.

Acupuncturists believe that when someone is healthy, their qi flows freely and the body is at balance – meaning less risk of illness. Suppressed emotions, stress and poor diet can have an adverse impact on one’s qi balance and lead to symptoms like anxiety. Acupuncture can help release these trapped emotions to restore equilibrium within their system.

People who undergo acupuncture treatments report numerous positive side effects, such as increased energy and decreased anxiety levels. Other reported benefits of treatment include improved sleep, digestion improvement and strengthening their immune systems. Some research has even indicated that acupuncture could even prevent strokes by decreasing risk for blood clots in the brain.

Needle shock is a rare but unpleasant side-effect of acupuncture treatments and usually occurs when patients are too anxious about needles, fatigued from eating too little prior to an appointment or have low blood sugar due to not eating for too long prior. Additionally, an unqualified acupuncturist could accidentally hit an unexpected area during their appointment – it is therefore imperative that experienced practitioners perform your treatment.

What are the Side Effects of Acupuncture?

Typical side effects of acupuncture treatment include soreness and possibly minor bleeding or bruising in the area where needles were inserted. Your chances of experiencing any such side effects are drastically decreased if your acupuncturist uses single-use, disposable needles during each session; additionally, some patients report experiencing an electrical sensation which some practitioners believe to be healing energy moving through their bodies; many find that their pain has decreased or disappeared after just a few sessions!

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Traditional Chinese Medicine contends that hair-thin needles used to balance your qi, the natural life force flowing throughout your body. Although Western scientists don’t fully comprehend how acupuncture works scientifically, they do understand its effect on stimulating your central nervous system and stimulating release of neurotransmitters, endorphins and other chemicals which help control pain response while simultaneously increasing physical and emotional well-being.

Before beginning acupuncture treatments, it’s essential to consult your healthcare provider about possible risks. In particular, be sure to inform them if you are pregnant/ breastfeeding/ taking blood thinners etc. Additionally, be sure to inform them about all medications/supplements you are currently taking–both prescription and over-the-counter alike.

As your body adjusts to acupuncture treatments, there may be a temporary worsening of symptoms as your body adjusts – similar to when starting an exercise program or eating healthier.

Acupuncture is generally safe for most people; however, there are some exceptions. If you are pregnant, have an implant such as knee replacements or breast implants in your body (for instance knee replacements or breast implants), you should avoid receiving acupuncture as this could cause electrical stimulation of your heart that disrupts its rhythm – something which could prove deadly if there is something affecting the electrical system of the heart.

Acupuncture has a relaxing effect and may even put you to sleep, so if driving afterward is part of your plan it may be helpful to have someone drop and pick you up, especially during your first visit to an acupuncturist.