Acupuncture Becoming More Mainstream in Western Medicine
December 26, 2008
From Mayo Clinic Online Publication:

Dear Mayo Clinic:
What do you think of acupuncture as a treatment for various ailments? How does it work?

Acupuncture, which has been used and studied throughout the world for more than 4,000 years, can be utilized to rebalance the flow of energy (Qi) in the body and effectively treat many conditions. At Mayo Clinic, acupuncture has been used successfully for pain management, postoperative nausea, anxiety relief, drug addiction, insomnia and headaches, to name a few.

Acupuncture is administered by inserting up to a dozen or more tiny needles into very precise locations (points) determined by symptoms. The needle insertion points are based on a series of points along meridians or channels that interconnect throughout the body, each with a different function. There are twelve principle meridians within the body, containing almost 400 acupuncture points.

Patients rarely have any discomfort with needle insertion. Needles remain in place for 15 to 45 minutes. During a treatment, the acupuncturist may gently stimulate the needles manually, apply heat with a ceramic lamp at a safe distance, or attach low-frequency electrical stimulation. The goal is to improve energy flow in the body, thus relieving pain and other symptoms, allowing people to sleep better and improve their quality of life.

For some conditions, one treatment provides rapid relief. Other situations, such as chronic pain management, may require a series of treatments. In some cases, symptom relief is not always immediate and may require a period of two to three days for the positive effects to be noted. This is in part related to delayed secretion of endorphins.

While some patients and providers remain skeptical of its therapeutic value, acupuncture is becoming more mainstream in Western medicine as a stand-alone treatment or as one element of a comprehensive treatment plan.

As a practicing neurosurgeon, I can cite several examples of acupuncture’s beneficial effects. These stories from our patients illustrate the scope of acupuncture’s benefits:

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