Acupuncture, the ancient Chinese art of healing, has become popular the world over during the past few decades. Not only as an anaesthetic agent for surgical operations, but in many diseases, which are resistant to conventional forms of therapy, acupuncture has proved remarkably effective. Besides being free from the side-effects commonly encountered in drug therapy, it is a simple, safe, effective and economical form of therapy.
Whether acupuncture works or not, is no longer the question today. The only question is “How does it work?” This is not an easy question, which can be fully answered in our present state of knowledge. After several decades of dedicated research we know very little of how the normal nervous system functions in health, let alone a few years ago, and such a short period of time has been insufficient to unravel all the mechanisms of the complicated neurophysiological phenomenon, which acupuncture evidently is. Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that acupuncture works in a great variety of disorders and its action must, therefore, be assumed to vary, to some extent, with each type of pathology. Nevertheless, many aspects of its action are now being understood in the light of recent research and these are now being pieced together in an attempt to solve this profound enigma.
The effects observed on needling are both objective (by the therapist) and objective (by the patient):
OBJECTIVE EEFECTS: one of these objective effects may be slight pain at the site of needling, but with the use of proper technique by a trained acupuncturist this is usually negligible. Another important subjective effect is the appearance of a peculiar sensation, which is called “deqi = TI CHI” in Chinese. There is no exact equivalent for this term in English, but it is usually translated as “take”. The deqi which patient feels is a combination of numbness, heaviness, slight soreness, and distension. Radiation of one or more of these sensations may also occur along the channel. For acupuncture analgesia to be successful , it is essential that adequate “deqi” is elicited
SUBJECTIVE EFFECTS: Six different effects may be recognised:
a) Analgesic (pain-releiving) effect: which is achieved by raising of the pain threshold and is able to relieve pain of arthritis, toothache, headache, backache, and other similar painful disorders. Some acupuncture points are more effective, in this respect, than others.
b) Sedation: Some people may even fall asleep during acupuncture treatment, but wake up refreshed. It has been shown that these effects are utilised in the acupuncture treatment of insomnia, anxiety states, addictions, mental disorders and behavioural problems
c) Homeostasis (it means adjustment of the internal environment of the body towards a state of normal balance): Generally, homeostasis is maintained by the balanced activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system and also by the endocrine system. In addition, there are numerous homeostatic mechanisms in the body for regulating the respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, urinary excretion, metabolic rate, sweating, temperature, ionic balance of the blood and many other vital parameter. Very often homeostatic or normalising action of acupuncture may be used for treating opposite disorders like high and low blood pressure, or diarrhoea and constipation.
d) Immune-enhancing effect: The acupuncture can strengthen the body resistance to diseases and this due to an increase in the white blood cells (WBC), antibodies and other substances. In many cases a two to four fold increase in antibody titre has been observed, presumably brought about by activation of the immune system. Acupuncture is, therefore, very useful in combating infections whether fungal, bacterial of viral.
e) Psychological effect: It is the calming and tranquilizing action apart from mere sedation.This is believed to be due to an action on the brain as the measurable effects have been reported on the metabolic chemistry of the brain tissues. For instance, there is increase in the dopamine content of brain after acupuncture. This may account for its effectiveness in certain mental disorders and in parkinsonism, where there is a depletion of the dopamine content of the brain.
f) Hastens the motor recovery: The effect of acupuncture in patients who have become paralysed from some causes, it hastens their motor nerve recovery. Even late cases of motor paralysis, respond well to acupuncture.
With so many broadminded colleagues, the world over, who are now critically examining Traditional healing methods, before long a holistic medicine is bound to merge, which will serve mankind, even better, in the 21st Century. Even though many theories are now current, the secret of acupuncture will not easily solved. As it is a very complex phenomenon, it will remain a mystery inside an enigma, surrounded by total darkness, for many more decades to come.
If you need any further details or information on this subject, try to contact the Clinical Director of UK ACUPUNCTURE CLINICS.