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Acupuncture and other Chinese Remedies

Acupuncture is a form of healing based on the concept that all body organs are interconnected by channels, known as meridians and that illness occurs when the vital energy or qi (pronounced chee), flowing through these channels is partially blocked. A practitioner of acupuncture attempts to correct this imbalance by inserting thin needles along the meridians at designated points, called outpoints and in certain cases twirling them, either manually or with an electrical device. He or she may combine the treatment with other traditional practices, such as herbal medicine, diet therapy and massage.

When it is used?
While mainstream doctors view many of the claims by acupuncturists with skepticism, there is increasing recognition of their success in alleviating pain, thereby providing an alternative to painkillers, tranquillizers and sleeping pills. The use of acupuncture for anesthesia in dentistry, childbirth and some forms of surgery is under study by a number of Western medical practitioners. Researchers are also looking into its usefulness as a way of easing the pain and increasing the range of motion for people who suffer. Uses of acupuncture include the treatment of allergies, migraine headaches, circulatory disorders and addictions to nicotine, alcohol and other drugs.

How does it work?
There is no parallel in Western medicine for the meridians and outpoints indicated on the traditional acupuncture chart. Within the frame of reference for Western science, it has not been possible to validate the claims of acupuncture as a healing system, nor is there a complete understanding of exactly how it works as an analgesic. Some researchers think its positive effects might result from the release of ender pins, the body's naturally produced analgesics, triggered by the action of the needles. Although the trigger points for pain and for acupuncture have been labeled differently and were discovered independently, recent research into pain has revealed that they represent the same phenomenon and can be explained in terms of how the nervous system functions.

What to expect!
Treatment consists of the insertion of hair-thin stainless steel needles a few millimeters below the skin at specifically designated locations. The mystery is that the needles are inserted in one part of the body, yet the sensations of warmth, numbness or tingling are experienced in another part. The traditional explanation for this phenomenon is that qi is traveling along its proper channel. Western research suggests that the autonomic nervous system is responsible for this.

In current practice, the needles range in diameter from 10 to 13 mils (thousandths of an inch) and from one to three inches in length. It takes considerable skill and many years of practice to insert the needles perpendicular to the skin without bending them. Their insertion and removal rarely causes pain beyond the sensation of a pinprick. When the patient is relaxed, there is no discomfort at any stage of the procedure. For treating pain, the length of time that needles are left in place, whether they are twirled manually or hooked up to an electrical rotating device and whether the acupuncture is combined with heat, depends on the nature of the pain or the desired effect. For example, 5 minutes is said to be sufficient for tooth extraction, while 20 to 30 minutes may be needed for a tonsillectomy, with continuous stimulation by the needles throughout the entire surgical procedure. In the last instance, the analgesic effect lasts about 24 hours.

Most treatments for pain relief take 5 to 15 minutes. Since the effect is presumed to be cumulative, a course of six treatments is usually recommended. Some patients, whose pain has not been alleviated immediately after treatment, report its disappearance days or even weeks later.

Acupuncture is a healing technique, which involves fine energy. The emphasis is on removing energy blockages and transfer of vital energy. It raises the energy level of the subject. It may help a person with MR by alleviating their pain.