Acupuncture is an ancient method of treatment that began in China as a part of traditional Chinese medicine.
Acupuncture is used for pain, including low back pain, labor pain, jaw pain due to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), nerve pain (neuropathy), and shoulder pain; as well as pain due to cancer, migraine headache, and osteoarthritis.
Acupuncture is also used for depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping (insomnia), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), vomiting associated with cancer treatment, stroke, bed-wetting, poor control of urination (incontinence), dry mouth, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and many other conditions.
Some people also use acupuncture to break addictions including smoking and cocaine-dependence.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for ACUPUNCTURE are as follows:
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of acupuncture for these uses.
Acupuncture is a treatment method used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Acupuncture treatment involves inserting fine needles into specific parts or points on the body along pathways called “meridians.” The purpose is to stimulate points that correspond to specific organs, emotions, or sensory feelings. For example, acupuncture around the ear, feet, and hands targets the pain of labor.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is thought that disease is caused by an imbalanced or blocked flow of energy or “qi.” Therefore, acupuncture is thought to stimulate energy flow, unblock energy, and rebalance energy, which results in healing.
Most acupuncture points are located near nerves. Researchers suggest that inserting an acupuncture needle at these points may block pain signals.
Some experts also think that acupuncture might release natural chemicals called endorphins or opioids, which naturally reduce pain.
For depression and other mental conditions, acupuncture is thought to stimulate chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that allow nerve cells to communicate. Some researchers believe that acupuncture might increase the production and release of serotonin and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters that play a big role in depression.
Acupuncture is safe when used appropriately. Side effects are generally rare, but can include dizziness, nausea and vomiting, pain, fainting, and infection of the needle insertion points.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Acupuncture seems to be safe in pregnant and breast-feeding women when used appropriately. Researchers who studied the effects of acupuncture on labor pain reported no harm or serious side effects among the women participating in the study.
It is not known if this treatment interacts with any medicines.
Before using this treatment, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.
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