What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves inserting needles at certain points of the body.
An acupuncurist will insert needles into a person's body with the aim of balancing their energy.
This, it is claimed, can help boost wellbeing and may cure some illnesses.
Conditions it is used for include different kinds of pain, such as headaches, blood pressure problems, and whooping cough, among others.
How does it work?
Traditional Chinese medicine explains 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." Illness is said to be the consequence of an imbalance of the forces
Qi is said to flow through meridians, or pathways, in the human body. These meridiens and energy flows are accessible through 350 acupuncture points in the body
Inserting needles into these points with appropriate combinations is said to bring the energy flow back into proper balance
There is no scientific proof that the meridians or acupuncture points exist, and it is hard to prove that they either do or do not, but numerous studies suggest that acupuncture works for some conditions
Some experts have used neuroscience to explain acupuncture. Acupuncture points are seen as places where nerves, muscles, and connective tissue can be stimulated. The stimulation increases blood flow, while at the same time triggering the activity of the body's natural painkillers
It is difficult to set up investigations using proper scientific controls, because of the invasive nature of acupuncture. In a clinical study, a control group would have to undergo sham treatment, or a placebo, for results to be compared with those of genuine acupuncture
Some studies have concluded that acupuncture offers similar benefits to a patient as a placebo, but others have indicated that there are some real benefits.
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