January 17, 2018

Acupuncture is a component of the system of medicine developed in China that can be traced back at least 2,500 years. It is one of the oldest health care systems in the world. While it is generally commonly recognized that acupuncture supports the treatment of many and varied health conditions, the theory of acupuncture is not able to be explained by current medical science. More research is needed to define more precisely the role of acupuncture in health care.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture commonly refers to the use of very fine, sterile, single use, disposable needles inserted into specific sites (acupuncture points) along the body’s energy pathways (meridians) to clear energy blockages and encourage the normal flow of energy, or Qi, through the body. The acupuncturist may also stimulate the acupuncture points using manual manipulation, heat or electrical stimulation. The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health.

How does acupuncture work?

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that health is the result of a harmonious balance of the complementary extremes of “yin” and “yang” of the life force known as “qi,” pronounced “chi”. According to traditional Chinese Medicine, “qi” is an innate energy that flows through meridians, or pathways, in the human body. These meridians and energy flows are accessible through acupuncture points in the body. Inserting needles into these points with appropriate combinations is said to bring the energy flow back into proper balance for good health. Many studies in animals and humans have demonstrated that acupuncture can cause multiple biological responses. This can lead to activation of pathways affecting various physiological systems in the brain as well as in the periphery.

Despite considerable efforts to understand the anatomy and physiology of the “acupuncture points”, the definition and characterisation of these points remains controversial. Although much remains unknown regarding the mechanism(s) that might mediate the therapeutic effect of acupuncture, it is encouraging that a number of significant acupuncture-related biological changes can be identified and carefully delineated.

What are the benefits of acupuncture?

  • Takes a holistic approach by treating the symptoms of illness as well as looking for the underlying cause of the condition
  • Assists in the prevention against disease and illness as well as the maintenance of general well-being
  • Reduces chronic pain – drug-free pain relief
  • Can be effective in preventing and treating a wide spectrum of chronic and acute ailments as shown in research studies which have been collated in the Acupuncture Evidence Project

The Acupuncture Evidence Project was published in 2017. It is a review of the evidence supporting the efficacy of acupuncture currently available.

Is acupuncture safe?

When performed by a suitably trained Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, acupuncture is generally considered to be safe for most people. But any procedure that involves puncturing the skin with needles or manipulating the human body carries some risk. As with all health treatment it may be associated with possible adverse reactions in individual cases.

Potential side effects of acupuncture may include:

  • Soreness in body parts where needles get inserted after needles are removed
  • Bleeding or bruising at the needling site
  • Lightheadedness
  • Infection at the needling site
  • Emotional release
  • Transmission of blood-borne diseases

Acupuncturists should use sterile, disposable needles to prevent the transmission of blood-borne diseases and reduce the likelihood of infection at the needling site.

For more information regarding acupuncture, please contact us at our Perth or Subiaco clinics (Perth Clinic: 9228 8828; Subiaco Clinic: 9380 4171). Alternatively, you can send your enquiries online through our contact page. We look forward to helping you reach your optimal health state.