Acupuncture Pictures

Acupuncture: How It Works, Uses, Benefits and Risks

Acupuncture is the holistic healing that is sworn the miracle cure for many ailments. If you are new to the alternative type of treatment, then it can scare you. You may have heard the healing method uses needles on your skin to heal any ailment. So, many questions will arise in your mind. Will it hurt? How can pressing needles make you feel good? Unlike the popular misconception, the therapy does not cause you overt pain. The prickly treatment can cure problems that have no specific medication available. In many hospitals, it is provided along with chemotherapy to offer relief to cancer patients.

It is one of the oldest treatment methods practiced for more than 2,500 years. The therapy originated in China. But, it is now practiced along with western medications in several hospitals around the world. It is because of the positive results many patients have experienced. Many people swear by the therapy as it offers relief from different ailments. So, from allergies, depression, fertility issues to relief from early pregnancy signs, the alternative treatment has a cure for every discomfort. Want to know more about the treatment option? Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Acupuncture?

It is the ancient Chinese form of treatment. The holistic approach helps treat a wide variety of conditions. The concept is to stimulate or trigger specific points on your skin with the help of needles. Oriental therapy is a minimally invasive method to enhance the healing powers of your body. It is possible when the needles stimulate the nerve-rich areas of your skin surface. So, it, in turn, influence your tissues, organs, glands, and different functions of your body. The needle is pricked on the skin surface at specific points. It produces a small injury, which causes your body to respond. But, the tiny injury does not cause any discomfort to you.


The Chinese form of holistic therapy uses no chemicals to heal the ailment. Instead, it enhances your body’s response to managing the condition. The stimulation of the immune system leads to blood circulation in the affected area. So, you can experience swift wound healing and speedy recovery. It also promotes pain modulation. People undergoing therapy can feel the intensity of pain-reducing with each session.

Philosophy Behind Acupuncture

The Chinese philosophy behind the holistic healing method is complicated. The traditional practice does not follow science. The Chinese believed in the invisible life-giving force, which is filled in the human body. The active force is known as qi (it is pronounced as chee) flows through your body and goes to the right places to make you mentally and physically fit. But, when the qi flows incorrectly (deficiency or blocked), it can result in mental and physical ailment. Your body requires the correct flow of qi to keep away illness and feel fine.

While the concept of invisible force can seem far-fetched, it is not too out there. You can relate it directly to the inner workings of your body. For example, you become more susceptible to illness when you feel anxious or experience stress. When you have a relaxed mind, your body feels healthy and fit. So, your mood, mental health, and overall wellness are directly related to your physical health. Acupuncture aims to assist people in achieving the correct balance or qi. So, it helps manage or alleviate different ailments without using any medications.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

According to traditional Chinese medicine, a healthy body is the result of a pleasant balance between Yin and Yang. The Yin and Yang are the complementary extremes of Qi, the invisible life force. When you experience an imbalance between the extreme forces, it can result in illness. Classical Chinese philosophy explains that the life force flows through pathways (meridians) in your body. You can access the pathways as well as the energy flowing through acupuncture points in the body. There are 350 points, which an acupuncturist can stimulate by inserting needles. The stimulation can unblock the life force and ensure a proper balance of energy flow in the body.

How Does Acupuncture Work
Chinese Chart Of Qi Flow

Although, you have no scientific proof establishing the existence of the pathways or acupuncture points. So, it is hard to verify the authenticity of the existence of such points. But, several studies suggest the effectiveness of acupuncture for numerous health conditions.

Evidence Of Effectiveness Of Acupuncture

Experts have suggested neuroscience to explain the philosophy of the holistic healing method. The points used by an acupuncturist to stimulate the life force are the places where doctors can stimulate the nerves, muscles, and connective tissue. When stimulated, it increases blood circulation and simultaneously triggers the brain to release the body’s natural painkillers.

But, it is impossible to set up scientific control to get proper evidence. It is because of the invasive nature of alternative therapy. The evidence collected from clinical study depends on patients undergoing a placebo or a sham treatment. It is then compared to the results obtained from patients undergoing actual holistic treatment. Several studies indicate the positive effects of the holistic treatment option. The studies concluded that alternative therapy offers benefits to manage or cure the condition.

Uses Of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is beneficial in managing several health conditions. It has proven effective for conditions that have no specific medications available. Several studies carried out in Germany has provided evidence of the alternative therapy offering relief from the following conditions:

They list additional disorders that may benefit from acupuncture, but which require further scientific confirmation. The WHO (World Health Organization) has compiled a list in 2003. It contains the list of health conditions that you can manage with holistic therapy. Evidence has suggested the effectiveness of alternative therapy in dealing with the following:

  • Certain gastric conditions (for example, peptic ulcer)
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Nausea/vomiting induced by chemotherapy
  • Painful periods
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Dysentery
  • Sprains
  • Early pregnancy symptoms (like morning sickness or cramps)
  • Facial pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Dental pain
  • Sciatica
  • Induced labor
  • Reduce risk caused by stroke

Other Conditions

There are other health conditions that show improvement with holistic therapy. But, more evidence is required to establish its effectiveness. The list compiled by WHO includes:

  • Neuralgia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alcohol/substance/tobacco dependence
  • Post-operative convalescence
  • Spine pain
  • Vascular dementia
  • Stiff neck
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Whooping cough (pertussis)
  • Epidemic hemorrhagic fever
  • Infections (for example, urinary tract infections)

You need to talk to your doctor about undergoing acupuncture. The doctor can offer you insight into the effectiveness of the holistic therapy on your condition. Based on your doctor’s advice, you need to take the necessary steps.

Benefits Of Acupuncture

The holistic treatment option is not ideal for life-threatening emergencies. But, it is effective in a lot of conditions. Most people tend to choose alternative therapy to alleviate their discomfort or pain due to underlying medication due to its several benefits. As the therapy focuses on adjusting the function of your body to heal the problem itself, it has several pros like:

Completely Safe With Professional Therapist

When you find a reliable practitioner to undergo the therapy, you can ensure a high standard of treatment. It is completely safe and causes no problems with your health or well-being. A highly qualified acupuncturist can detect the problem and find the right pressure points to provide relief from the issue.

A Few/ No Side Effects

Allopathy medications target the disease or the pathogen causing the disease. So, the medication contains chemicals that fight the disease. The chemical reaction occurring in your body due to taking the medication can go wrong. So, you can suffer from allergic reactions, other health problems, or even cause severe complications that will put you in hospital. While alternative therapy enhances the body’s natural process for a lasting change. It elevates your body’s natural healing ability for wellness and wellbeing. Even with repeated treatments, you will not face severe side effects. The results of the treatment will benefit you and last a lifetime.

Combine With Other Treatments

Unlike allopathy treatments, holistic therapy does not cause any issue to other treatments or medications. So, you can combine with other treatment options to get relief. For example, many of the cancer patients tend to seek the assistance of an acupuncturist to manage pain and other signs associated with the disease along with undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.

Manages Chronic Pain

The age-old practice acts as a supplementary treatment for managing several pain conditions. So, people can undergo the therapy from a certified acupuncturist to manage the following:

Several studies show evidence of the effectiveness of alternative therapy in managing chronic pain. It is specifically effective in young children suffering from severe pain due to underlying medical conditions.

Ideal For Conditions With No Specific Medications

The holistic procedure involves putting the needles in specific points on your body. It stimulates the nerves, which sends the signals to your brain. In turn, your brain releases neural hormones like beta-endorphins. So, patients undergoing therapy feel euphoric or happy. It increases your pain threshold. Alternative therapy helps reduce pain. It is ideal for the conditions where pain medications are not suitable or work effectively (for example, migraines, headache behind the eyes or other types of headaches).

holistic procedure

It does not mean you have to stick to alternative therapy to manage the problem. You need to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis of the problem and talk about treatment plans. If you feel uncomfortable with conventional therapies or find no cure, then you can try acupuncture. But, talk to your doctor before making any decisions.

Risks Associated With Acupuncture

Like every type of treatment, the holistic treatment options have some risks. So, you can experience slight bleeding, soreness or bruising at the pricking sites. The side effects can heal without any complications. But, some people experience severe problems after undergoing acupuncture. The risks associated with holistic therapy are less when you find a certified and competent acupuncturist. Without a competent practitioner, you can face the following risks:

Chance Of Infection

Chance Of Infection

A proficient acupuncturist has a clean working environment. The practitioner follows the guidelines for a hygienic environment. An acupuncturist with no certification or knowledge can maintain unclean surroundings, may not follow proper aseptic techniques, clean hands or ensure sterility of needles. It can lead to infection. For getting maximum benefits, the acupuncturist must use single-use, disposable needles and follow the hygiene guideline to avoid complications.

Damage To Internal Organ

The acupuncturist must make sure the patient assumes a comfortable position during the therapy. An uncomfortable posture during the needle makes the patient uncomfortable. So, they tend to change position abruptly. It can cause the needle to break. The needles can also break when the acupuncturist tries too hard to stimulate the nerves. It can lead to damage to an internal organ.

Feeling Unwell

When the patient undergoes the alternative therapy while they are fatigued, nervous, feeling weak or in an unsuitable position, it can result in the following:

  • Sensation of giddiness
  • Not feeling good
  • Swaying of surrounding objects
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting feeling
  • Pressure feeling in the chest
  • Palpitations
  • Look pale
  • Weak pulse

In such cases, the acupuncturist must stop the therapy. The above-mentioned symptoms also occur due to forceful manipulations. Without any experience, the acupuncturist may not know the right technique suitable for the patients. It can result in severe reactions like:

  • Cold sweats
  • Coldness in your extremities
  • Fall in blood pressure
  • Lose consciousness

Collapsed Lung

Collapsed Lung

When an incompetent acupuncturist works on you, they can fail to understand the effects of inserting the needle on your pressure point. Sometimes, inserting the needle deep into the chest or upper back can lead to a collapsed lung. Though it is a rare problem, it can occur.

Accidental Puncture Of Arteries

A trained acupuncturist takes care while needling areas with poor circulation. But, incapable people can needle areas like varicose veins incorrectly. So, it can result in the development of infection or accidental /abnormal puncture of arteries. It can cause the following:

  • Hematoma
  • Excess bleeding
  • Arterial spasm
  • Serious complication (when you suffer from atherosclerosis or aneurysm)

Some health condition is not suitable for undergoing alternative therapy. The following factors can interfere with holistic treatment.

Suffer From Bleeding Disorder

If you have any type of blood disorder or take blood thinner like aspirin for treating an underlying health conditions, then you must refrain from undergoing holistic therapy. It is because of the treatment pricking needles on your skin. So, people with bleeding disorder or taking aspirin can experience severe bleeding. Excess bleeding can cause severe problems, including fatal complications.

Have Pacemaker

Have Pacemaker

The holistic treatment has a certain type that involves applying mild electric pulses to the needle. The passing of current affects the pacemaker’s operation. So, people who have undergone heart surgery for correcting valves with a pacemaker must refrain from the treatment option.

Not Ideal For Pregnant Women

The holistic treatment option is not ideal for pregnant women. Some types of alternative treatments can stimulate labor. So, it results in preterm delivery. Similarly, unnecessary stimulation can harm pregnant women.

Always weigh the risks and benefits associated with the treatment option. You can consult your doctor to make the right decision based on your specific condition.

Choosing A Good Acupuncturist

Choosing A Good Acupuncturist

If you are considering acupuncture to heal your ailments, then you need to choose the right doctor. A reputable acupuncturist follows the guidelines and has good experience to perform the treatment without causing any risks to the patients. So, how can you make sure the acupuncturist you choose is the right person? Here are the few essential factors you need to consider before selecting the professional.

Proper Credentials

The proper credentials of the acupuncturist are important. The expertise of the doctor is essential to get the desired results. You need to find the right person who fulfills the requirements posed by the country you live in. Every country around the world has certain guidelines regarding the education required, the training completed, and a proper certification course to complete to practice the holistic treatment. The acupuncturist needs to get the necessary education needed for getting the license. It is also important to find an acupuncturist who continues his/her education to update themselves. A conscientious person with keen observation as well as listening skills knows to diagnose a patient’s problem accurately. So, the professional accurately inserts and manipulates the needles to manage your condition.

Good Reviews

You need an acupuncturist who can determine the right types of holistic treatment to offer you positive results. The levels of effectiveness depending on the type of acupuncture therapy determined by the treatment provider. So, you need to choose a specialist who has positive reviews from different patients. You can get a good recommendation by asking your friends or other people who have tried the type of treatment in the past. You can ask about the treatment center and its effectiveness. It is always a good idea to ask others if you seek treatment for the same treatment as theirs.

If you cannot find the right person with a personal recommendation, then try online. The Internet has different review sites offering its service to find the highly rated acupuncturist. You can find the highly rated (with most positive reviews) specialist by performing a simple Google search. It will also reveal the specialist who specializes in your condition. Visiting different sites online also helps you learn about the basic services offered by any treatment center and other information.

Healthy Treatment Environment

A clean and hygienic treatment environment is another important factor you need to check while choosing an acupuncturist. Check the treatment center to know how clean and healthy it is. The acupuncturist needs to sterilize their hands and equipment before offering their services. Also, every patient must get fresh blankets and pillows. A spotless floor, clean equipment on tables or carts, etc. are the minimum requirements of a good treatment facility.


Acupuncture is one of the recognized methods to treat and cure acute as well as chronic ailments. The holistic treatment option is safe and causes no adverse effects on your body. It is not painful and costs less compared to the other conventional treatment options. The horror stories you hear about alternative therapy is due to the incompetent acupuncturist offering the treatment. Therefore, the accidents occur mostly due to lack of skill, improper technique, and failure to follow clinical guidelines. Such unsavory incidents are preventable when you seek treatment from a qualified and competent specialist. You need to talk to your doctor about the success rates of the holistic treatment option. Your doctor can tell you about the success rates associated with the alternative treatment based on your condition. Your doctor can also recommend a competent practitioner offering the best results.

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