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All about acupuncture.

Acupuncture practically implies to puncture with a needle. Having said that, the application of needles is often in combination with moxibustion (the burning above the skin of selected herbs) and may also involve the application of other kinds of stimulation to certain points. In this publication the term “acupuncture” is used in a way to include traditional body needling, moxibustion, electric acupuncture, photo-acupuncture, microsystem acupuncture such as hand and scalp acupuncture, and acupressure.

Acupuncture originated in China several thousand years ago and soon spread to Japan, the Korean peninsula and elsewhere in Asia. Acupuncture is widely applied in health care systems in the countries of this part of the world. Acupuncture is officially recognized by governments and well perceived by the general public. Although it was introduced to Europe as long ago as the early seventeenth century, uncertainty about its effectiveness is still here in countries where Western medicine is the foundation of health delivery system, especially in those where acupuncture has not yet been extensively practised. Public questions whether acupuncture has a true therapeutic effect. There is as a result a need for scientific research that evaluate the usefulness of acupuncture.

A lot of clinical trials have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture. Some of these studies have offered irrefutable scientific evidence that acupuncture is more successful than placebo treatments in a variety of conditions. For example, the proportion of chronic pain relieved by acupuncture is generally in the range of 55-85%, which compares favourably with that of potent drugs such as morphine and far outweighs the placebo effect 30-35%. In addition, the effect of acupuncture analgesia have been studied extensively since the late 1970s, revealing the role of humoral factors.

The practicability of acupuncture is also an important element to consider. The strengths of acupuncture are that it is simple and has few contraindications. Although the success rate of acupuncture treatment in managing kidney stones, for example, is confirmed by comparative studies with other therapies, it is by no means as high as that of surgery. On the other hand, acupuncture treatment of kidney stones is still worth mentioning due to its simplicity, making it more acceptable to patients. There are also instances where acupuncture is not as practicable as regular treatment. For instance, the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment of acute bacillary dysentery has been shown to be comparable with that of furazolidone, but oral administration of furazolidone or other antidysenteric drugs is more convenient.

The circumstances of the health service in a given area should also be considered in examining acupuncture practice. In developing countries, where medical personnel are still lacking, the need for acupuncture can be considerable; proper use of acupuncture therapy could benefit many patients. On the other hand, in developed countries, where the health delivery system is well established, with sophisticated technology and a well-equipped infrastructure, acupuncture might be considered to be of great value in only a limited number of conditions. It can still serve as a valuable alternative treatment for many diseases or conditions. It is particularly of value in situations where the patient is frightened of the potential adverse effects of conventional treatments. As a matter of fact, in some developed countries, the diseases for which patients seek help from acupuncturists tend to be beyond the scope of orthodox medicine.

The website of Britannia Acupuncture Clinic will provide you with more information on this topic.

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