Acupuncture describes a family of procedures involving the stimulation of points on the body using a variety of techniques.
The acupuncture technique that has been most often studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.
Practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years, acupuncture is one of the key components of traditional Chinese medicine.
Although millions of Americans use acupuncture each year, often for chronic pain, there has been considerable controversy surrounding its value as a therapy and whether it is anything more than placebo.
Research exploring a number of possible mechanisms to explain acupuncture’s pain-relieving effects is ongoing.
Acupuncture, which has been shown to ease pain, nausea, depression and other ailments in some patients, may also help cocaine addicts quit, researchers said. More than half of the addicts participating in a Yale University study, who were treated with acupuncture needles in their ears five days a week for eight weeks, tested free of cocaine at the end of treatment — more than double the quitting rate of a control group.
Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA, in light of the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used.
AUTHOR: Darin Ingels, ND
Pregnant women in early labor who use ice massage at specific acupuncture points on the hand may experience less pain, according to a new study in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health (2003;48:317’21). This study suggests ice massage is a safe, non-invasive method of decreasing a woman’s labor pain.