INTEGRATIVE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Intuitive Wellness Center LLC
Acupuncture is a component of the health care system of China that 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 glow (QI) through the body that are essential for health. Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. Acupuncture may, it has been theorized, correct imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin. The practice of acupuncture to treat identifiable pathophysiological (disease) conditions in American medicine was rare until 1972. Since that time, there has been an explosion of interest in the US and Europe in the application of the technique of acupuncture to Western medicine. Acupuncture is a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical locations on or in the skin by a variety of techniques. There are a variety of approaches to diagnosis and treatment in American acupuncture that incorporate medical conditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The most thoroughly studied mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points employs penetration of the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.
What are the possible side effects of acupuncture?
The most common serious injury reported from the needles of acupuncture has been accidental puncture of the lung, which results in partial collapse of the lung (pneumothorax). The most common infection reported from acupuncture treatments is viral hepatitis, a potentially serious infection of the liver. Other side effects include bacterial infections locally at the site of needle insertion in the skin and elsewhere in the body. Generally, side effects seem to relate to poor hygiene and training of the acupuncturist. Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention widely practiced in the US. There have been many studies of its potential usefulness. However, many of these studies provide equivocal results because of design, sample size, and other factors. The issue is further complicated by inherent difficulties in the use of appropriate controls, such as placebo and sham acupuncture groups.
Findings from basic research have begun to elucidate the mechanisms of action of acupuncture, including the release of opioids and other peptides in the central nervous system and the periphery and changes in neuroendocrine function. Although much needs to be accomplished, the emergence of plausible mechanisms for the therapeutic effects of acupuncture is encouraging. The introduction of acupuncture into the choice of treatment modalities that are readily available to the public is in its early stages. Issues of training licensure, and reimbursement remain to be clarified. There is sufficient evidence, however, of acupuncture's value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value. This statement is representative of the opinions of current standard medical practice.