The widespread use of acupuncture in the modern western society proves that many of us find it effective in relieving our ailments. This article looks at the way in which acupuncture, and its enhanced version electro-acupuncture, having long been popular with the general public, is gradually gaining acceptance within the medical and health insurance communities.
The widespread use of acupuncture in the modern western world is testament to the fact that many of us find it effective in relieving our ailments. However, acupuncture is unlikely to ever enjoy the same scientifically validated status as the drugs which so many of us rely on to keep us on an even keel. So, should acupuncture have a place in our modern hi-tech society?
The main reason for scientific scepticism regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture is the unscientific nature of its underlying precepts. Acupuncture is based on the ancient Chinese theory that the main factor which determines health is the correct and unimpaired flow of vital energy throughout the body. When this energy is blocked, whether due to injury or genetic predisposition, we become ill or develop pain and immobility in those parts of the body where the blockage occurs.
Acupuncturists are trained to identify the pressure points within the body where blockages may occur; and, by carefully inserting needles at precisely these points, they claim to be able to remove the energy blockages which cause many of our ailments. Many doctors and scientists remain sceptical, claiming that any successes produced by acupuncture treatment are simply due to the placebo effect.
However, the reaction of the general public to acupuncture has been much more positive. Indeed, the main reason why acupuncture continues to grow in popularity is that so many people have found that it works for them; and, naturally, when you have an ailment, the result of treatment is all that matters. If a course of treatment removes the symptoms of your illness, you are very likely to continue with it; you don’t really care how it works, all that matters is that it does work.
Given that acupuncture is well established, it is also certainly true, that, when carried out by a trained practitioner, it is perfectly safe; in spite of its invasive nature. Acupuncturists ensure that the needles they use are sterile, and the points at which the needles are inserted are carefully selected. Consequently, there is usually very little, if any, bleeding during the treatment; so a visit to an acupuncture practitioner is by no means an ordeal.
Another interesting development, which has probably increased the number of people who are willing to acknowledge that acupuncture may, in fact, be effective; is the use of a mild electric current in the needles. This is known as electro-acupuncture and usually lasts for between 10 and 20 minutes.
Acupuncture usually involves the manual manipulation of the needles by practitioner, which is designed to enhance the stimulation of the acupoints (the pressure points into which the needles are inserted). Electro-acupuncture has a similar effect to this relatively slow manual technique, but provides a far more efficient and consistent way of enhancing the stimulation of the acupoints.
There is undeniable scientific evidence which indicates that running mild electrical currents through a patient’s body can have benefits, such as relieving pain. However, acupuncture sceptics point out that this only applies when the current is applied to nerves within the body rather than to acupoints.
Given the general public’s positive response to acupuncture and to other alternative medical treatments, many private health insurance companies are now offering the option of acupuncture in their policies.
There is also an increasing number of doctors who are willing to refer patients to acupuncture specialists, where they feel acupuncture may benefit a particular patient’s condition. Such developments would seem to indicate that acupuncture is gradually becoming a part of mainstream medical practice. Ultimately, it would seem, the law of supply and demand is ensuring that acupuncture is being made available in an increasingly wide range of contexts.