Acupuncture involves the insertion of hair-thin, sterile needles into different points on the body by licensed, trained professionals. The idea is to stimulate the invisible channels of energy called meridians so the body can balance itself and heal itself.
What is acupuncture used for?
The acupuncturist will take your pulse, look at your tongue and eyes, ask you about your mood and bowel movements, and other information to determine which parts of the body need to be stimulated or sedated. Then you lie on a comfortable treatment bed that resembles a massage table, fully clothed (except for shoes). The acupuncturist sterilizes the skin with alcohol swabs before inserting the needles. You may feel a slight prick or pressure as the needle is inserted, but the procedure shouldn’t be painful. The acupuncturist may move the needle after it has been placed to create more or less pressure.
It’s not entirely clear how acupuncture works, but it is thought that stimulating the points stimulates nerves in your body to release pain relieving chemicals like beta-endorphins. It is also believed that acupuncture works to help the brain communicate with your body’s internal organs, regulating your body’s natural processes.
There are a lot of health conditions that can be helped by acupuncture. However, it’s important to talk to your primary care physician before you start an acupuncture treatment. You should also find a licensed acupuncturist who has met state-specific standards for education and training. You can search for one in your area through a national organization that maintains accreditation and licensing standards for acupuncturists.