Acupuncture Essay, Research Paper
Acupuncture is a strong component in China, and can be traced to their health care system for at least 2,500 years. The procedure involves inserting hair-thin steel surgical needles into specific points in the body which are supposed to make you feel better, and be healthier. This is only the technical aspect though. To understand the art of this procedure, you must have a background on Chinese medicine. How it works is this: health is achieved though the balance of the opposing forces between yin (spirit), and yang (blood). The attraction between them creates an energy called Qi ( pronounced chee). This energy flows to all parts of the body through channels which are known as meridians (pathways that run along the surface of the body and branch into the body s interior). An imbalance in these forces is what is believed to cause illness and disease. When needles are placed on the acupuncture points along the meridians, balance, and hence, health is restored. There are several styles of acupuncture, the differences being how the acupuncture points are stimulated.
Acupuncture was introduced to American doctors by Sir William Osler, who is often called the father of modern medicine. In a classic medical textbook written more than a century ago, he said, For lumbago, acupuncture is, in acute cases, the most efficient treatment. The first time acupuncture really got notice wasn t until 1972. James Reston, a New York Times correspondent, was assigned to cover President Nixon s now historic trip to China. During his stay, Reston had to have an emergency appendectomy, and was treated with acupuncture for the postoperative pain he had to endure. The report of his experience with acupuncture caught the interest of many American doctors who wanted to see how the Chinese used acupuncture as an anesthetic. Many non-physicians went to train overseas or with acupuncturists who had been silently practicing in the States, in many Asian communities. These people then fought to gain laws that would allow acupuncture to be practiced legally.
The World Health Organization (WHO), lists a variety of different medical conditions that can benefit from the use of acupuncture. This list includes prevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting, treatment of pain, addictions to alcohol, tobacco, and other substances; treatment of pulmonary problems such as asthma and bronchitis, and rehabilitation from neurological damage, such as by a stroke. Other conditions commonly treated by acupuncture are: allergies; anxiety; depression; myofascial and low back/neck/shoulder/knee pain; musculoskeletal conditions (such as fibromyalgia); arthritis; osteoarthritis; bladder/kidney problems; postoperative pain and nausea; cough; gynecological disorders; headache; migraine; fatigue; high blood pressure; sexual dysfunction; stress; tension; and vision problems.
There are many advantages to acupuncture. One is that it can supposedly treat so many illnesses. Another was the point mentioned above, that most people respond well to this treatment. The main advantage, though, is that it has substantially less side effects than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions. Adverse side effects are much lower in acupuncture than those caused by drugs or other legal, accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions. An example would be that of the tennis elbow. The treatment of acupuncture for this condition could be very beneficial. But this condition is often treated with, among other things, anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin or ibuprofen) or with steroid injections. Both of those treatments have a potential for deleterious side effects, but still their use is widespread and are considered to be acceptable methods of treatment.
As with any medical procedure, though, we must take into account the fact that acupuncture is not risk-free, but complications caused by acupuncture are very uncommon. A major concern (though quite rare) is infection. One must check to make sure that they are being treated with disposable surgical steel needles because, according to a study that was done, about 35% of practitioners use improperly sterilized needles. Some other reported problems are isolated lung and bladder punctures, broken needles, and allergic reactions to needles that are not made of surgical steel. Acupuncture may also stimulate the production of hormones in pregnant women which help induce labor early, and can be harmful to the fetus in early pregnancy. However, these cases are very few, almost rare. In the hands of a good, professional acupuncturist, the risk of such complications is extremely low. Therefore, although acupuncture will probably be forever integrated into the Western medical practices, we can never know how this treatment works and why. What we do know, though, is that it does work.