Traditional Chinese acupuncture as practiced in modern-day Chinese hospitals is based on ideas first developed over 2,000 years ago. The ancient Chinese believed that a body’s innate energy (Qi) flows through a network of channels connecting all parts of the body. This flow of Qi can become blocked or imbalanced for a number of reasons ranging from stress, physical trauma, illness, poor diet or through emotional upset. Acupuncture restores the free-flow of Qi to relieve pain and induce a sense of well-being.
As the way in which acupuncture works is being uncovered through modern research, it is becoming increasingly accepted and integrated into general medicine. For example, in 2009 the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommended that acupuncture should be made available on the NHS, as a cost effective, short-term treatment for the management of persistent, non-specific lower back pain.
In the West, acupuncture is mostly used to treat acute and chronic pain conditions. Research has shown that acupuncture modifies the pain pathways of both the spinal cord and the brain and increases the release of the body’s natural painkillers.
There is also evidence to show that acupuncture can affect most of the body’s systems – the nervous system, muscle tone, hormone outputs, circulation, antibody production and allergic responses, as well as the respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems.