Acupuncture is a technique for relieving pain or improving the function of various parts of the body by inserting very thin needles at certain points discovered empirically by the ancient Chinese. These are called “acupuncture points” and may be quite a distance from the part of the body being treated.
Acupuncture is based on theories of energy flow in the body and can be described as an external treatment of internal disorders. The Chinese developed these theories and located the junction points on meridians of energy transmission to and from vital organs of the body thousands of years ago. They discovered that inserting fine needles at these points could relieve pain or improve the function of parts of the body at some distance from these points. Our observations of referred pain transmitted along nerve pathways are consistent with acupuncture theory, but we are just beginning to discover that body electricity is not entirely dependent on nerve fibers for its transmission. Our modern knowledge of embryology also helps to explain that parts of the body which appear entirely separate from each other after birth, have a history of common derivation and therefore have a relationship which is not apparent on ordinary physical examination of a patient.
The ancient Chinese based their theories of acupuncture on their philosophy, which was concerned with the balance and harmony between what they called Yin and Yang factors within the body and the external environment. They recognized the body as a microcosm, comparable to the universe as a whole. Anything associated with powerful activity, openness and aggressiveness was classified as Yang while anything obscure, quiet or passive was classified as Yin. Although Yang in general was associated with masculinity and Yin with femininity, each person is thought of as having both Yin and Yang energy within his or her body.
Theories of psychosomatic medicine about the mechanism of emotionally-triggered pathology are in some ways similar to the Chinese theories of vital energy imbalance, although the terminology used is quite different. American physicians have documented physiological changes in the body attributed to certain emotions. Then they have analyzed the potential results of such changes on the functioning of various organs.
By such methods it is possible to establish a relationship between emotions and somatic pathology. If we translate vigorous emotions as Yang vital energy and depressive emotions as Yin vital energy, we can see the similarity between the Chinese theories and our own.
Over centuries, the Chinese have worked out formulas and combinations of treatment points which are effective for relieving pain and disability in various parts of the body. Modern electronic instruments enable us to verify the existence of acupuncture treatment points and to locate them precisely. Even if we don’t accept Chinese philosophy or if we don’t understand why the Chinese select certain acupuncture points to treat a specific disorder, we cannot ignore the effectiveness of the treatment they give.
It is ridiculous to classify acupuncture as a “new and experimental” technique when it has been used for thousands of years. Certainly it is less new and experimental than any traditional American pharmacological or surgical treatment. Acupuncture has been used to treat millions of people since it was first developed in China over 3,000 years ago. In the sixth century, it was introduced to Korea, Japan, and the continent of India. It was introduced to Vietnam in the fourteenth century, and throughout Europe in the sixteenth century .
In the 1950’s, practitioners in the Soviet Union began learning acupuncture and it quickly spread throughout other Eastern European countries.
In 1975, the World Health Organization requested that International Acupuncture Training Courses be held in Beijing, Shanghai, and Nanjing to facilitate training acupuncturists from around the world. There are many books and scientific journal articles on acupuncture in English, and others in French, German, and Russian which are readily available for translation. More than 100 countries now use acupuncture in treating diseases. Acupuncture has proven its effectiveness in relieving pain or disability, especially in cases where there is no alternative treatment of comparable effectiveness and safety. It has withstood the test of time for millions of people in many countries.
Acupuncture is considered a complete system of medical treatment.
Although acupuncture has been considered a complete system of medical treatment by the Chinese, in the United States, it is used mainly to treat pain and to restore body function, and for those conditions that cannot be treated effectively by standard medical or surgical procedures. It is also used for conditions for which experience has indicated acupuncture is effective, such as neurological conditions. Although there are very sophisticated techniques for making neurological diagnoses, many neurological disorders remain difficult to treat. Acupuncture has been successful in treating such neurological disorders as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, stroke residual, and other conditions that have not responded to standard medical treatment.
While acupuncture is effective for many otherwise unresponsive conditions, it should never be used as a treatment for cancer, severed nerves, nutritional deficiencies, tumors, blood dyscarasias or heart disease. If a disorder can be more effectively treated by American medical techniques, the patient is advised to consult his regular physician. In some cases, patients are advised to continue treatments by their regular physicians for their illness while having their pain relieved by acupuncture. For example, acupuncture is not used as a treatment for cancer, but can be used to relieve the pain of cancer.
More Than 85% of the Patients Treated Have Had Significant Improvement
Most of the patients who seek acupuncture have already undergone diagnostic studies and treatment by many physicians. Often they have been told they will have to live with their pain or disability. Some patients have been treated with drugs which have dangerous side effects or to which they have reacted unfavorably. Others have had very traumatic surgery which has left them with increased pain and disability. Quite a few have become addicted to the narcotics which were prescribed to relieve their pain. Many patients are referred here by their physicians. The Washington Acupuncture Center has given millions of acupuncture treatments in this country since it was first opened in 1972 by Dr. Yao Wu Lee and more than 85% of the patients treated have had significant improvement. A great majority of these patients have had their symptoms totally relieved with no reoccurrence.