Health Corner

Understanding acupuncture

January 12, 2018 10:01 AM The Week Bureau


Influenced from traditional Chinese culture, the history of acupuncture can be traced back to at least 2,500 years. The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow through the body that are essential for health. It is the disruptions of this flow that is believed to be responsible for any disease. According to Acupuncturist Sudharshan Basnet (also the chairman at Sushwastha Hopsital in Kathmandu) acupuncture involves stimulation of anatomical locations on or in the skin using a variety of techniques, the most common of which is insertion of fine needles. Here Basnet further elaborates on how acupuncture actually works and what are the things one needs to keep in mind before opting for acupuncture.

How does acupuncture work?
Basically, acupuncture improves the body’s functions and promotes its natural self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites, commonly referred to as acupuncture points, or acupoints. According to the Chinese principle, there are two kinds of energy present in the body: negative and positive. The negative energy is called ‘ying’ and positive energy is called ‘yang’. For a person to have a healthy body, he/she should have a proper balance of these particular energies. Similarly, there are above 361 acupuncture points in the human body that contributes in the management of these energies. The special needles used for acupuncture stimulates these sites and points further balancing the energies. 

What makes acupuncture different from other kinds of treatments?
Unlike other western medical practices, acupuncture is a completely drugless and safe treatment. It cures a wide variety of diseases without any side effects. A person does not need to undergo elaborate surgical procedures or follow routine medication in acupuncture. The healing process is carried out using needles only for stimulation of forces in the body. The process is relatively simple and pain free as well.  The most common side effects seem to relate to poor hygiene and training of the acupuncturist. So every patient must make sure that they visit a trained and professional acupuncturist.  

What kind of diseases can be prevented or cured by this method?
Traditionally, acupuncture was commonly used to treat pain. Now, acupuncture is also used to prevent and cure commonly seen problems like high blood pressure and diabetes along with metabolic disorders such as constipation and gastritis. But there are actually more than 250 types of diseases that can be effectively cured by acupuncture. It is best known for treating non-communicable diseases like back and neck pain, nerve compress, migraine, sinusitis, osteoarthritis, all kinds of paralysis, dysmenorrhea etc. However, you might have to go for a few sessions to relieve your symptoms. The frequency and number of treatments differ from person to person. While some experience dramatic relief in the first treatment itself, some one to two treatments per week for several months. It all actually depends on your condition.

How painful are these pins?
People usually avoid acupuncture due to the fear of sharp needles. But, needles used in acupuncture are far different from vaccines and injections or the syringe used while drawing blood from veins. The fine pins are designed in such a way that patients will either have no or will experience only little pain during their treatment. The intensity of pain, if there is any in the first place, depends on the type of disease and number of needles used and the needles are usually kept for anywhere between five to 30 minutes. 

What makes you a suitable candidate for acupuncture?
Anyone can be treated with acupuncture but sometimes not everyone is a good candidate for acupuncture or for particular types of acupuncture. Children, women who are pregnant, people who have seizure disorders such as epilepsy and those with bleeding disorders should be given special attention during the treatment. In some cases, they are strictly prohibited from undergoing the treatment process as well. There are some types of acupuncture that involve sending mild electrical pulses through the needles and those with pacemakers should avoid this type of acupuncture as it can hinder the activity of the pacemaker. 

What are things that one must consider before opting for this treatment?
First and foremost, every patient needs to be aware about whether the needles used in their treatment are sterilized or not. Needles that have been already used should not be used again. Likewise, one should also be mentally prepared and have patience during the process of treatment. Since it is not an instant method, it requires at least ten to thirty days to cure any disease completely. So one must not be in a rush or complain about the length of the treatments. Also, care should be taken to follow the sessions prepared by their appointed doctor. It’s also a good idea to do some research by yourself prior to your treatment and if you still have some queries, clear them out with your practitioner before beginning your acupuncture process. 

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