Consider This Therapy For
Acupuncture is promoted as a treatment for pain--and there is absolutely no question that it does in fact provide short-term benefit for many of the people who try it. By some estimates, between 50 and 70 percent of patients with chronic pain receive at least temporary relief when treated with acupuncture, and some experience long-term relief as well.


How the Treatments Are Done
The "puncture" in acupuncture refers to insertion of tiny needles at certain very specific points on the surface of the body. The treatments vary widely, depending on the individual practitioner and the style of acupuncture. There are several "schools," including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and a westernized version (based on neurology, not Oriental medical philosophy) called trigger-point therapy. Most practitioners of Oriental-style acupuncture perform at least a partial physical examination at the first visit (including extensive pulse-taking and, possibly, examination of the tongue and palpation of the abdomen). They also tend to take a very detailed medical history, including nutritional habits and other environmental factors.

The actual insertion of the hair-thin, disposable needles has been described as feeling like a mosquito bite. After insertion, the needles may be stimulated by twirling them or connecting them to a mild electrical current (there is no risk of electrical shock). This stimulation may cause a mild tingling or aching sensation referred to as "de qi." The needles may be inserted from a fraction of an inch up to about one inch deep. They can either be withdrawn a few seconds after insertion or kept in place for up to 30 minutes.

Treatment Time: Typically, you should allow 20 minutes to 1 hour per session. The initial visit may take longer.

Treatment Frequency: This varies according to the problem. You may start out with several treatments per week, then taper to weekly or less often. Duration of therapy may range from a few treatments for acute, temporary problems to regularly scheduled treatments over several months for chronic conditions.


What Treatment Hopes to Accomplish
Acupuncture has been practiced in China for several thousand years, although this traditional healing art didn't catch Americans' interest until the early 1970s, when a Western reporter in Beijing received acupuncture for postoperative pain (after undergoing an appendectomy under conventional general anesthesia).

How acupuncture works remains a mystery. According to ancient Chinese medical theory, the life force (called qi or ch'i and pronounced "chee") flows through the body via 14 invisible channels (called meridians), regulating all physical and mental processes. Opposing forces within the body, called yin and yang, must be balanced to keep ch'i flowing properly. The meridians

Electric Acupuncture


supposedly run deep within the body's tissues and organs, surfacing at some 360 places identified as acupuncture points, sometimes called acupoints. Certain meridians are identified with organs such as the bladder or liver, and the points all along such meridians--even in the hands or feet--are believed capable of affecting the associated internal organ. Stimulating these points is said to balance and restore the flow of ch'i. An explanation proposed by Western scientists is that acupuncture may trigger the release of natural pain-killing substances within the body called endorphins, thus blunting the perception of pain. It may also alter the body's output of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine, and of inflammation-causing substances such as prostaglandins. Like the manipulation of ch'i, however, this explanation has yet to be conclusively documented.

Whatever the cause may be, the pain-relieving effects of acupuncture seem to have a delayed onset; they increase slowly, even after removal of the needles, and may become more evident after several treatments. The effects may diminish after acupuncture treatments are ended.


What Side Effects May Occur?
Acupuncture has no inherent side effects. However, careless application of the technique can present certain hazards. There have been documented cases of hepatitis B transmission and serious bacterial infection due to improperly sterilized needles, a problem that has been controlled by the widespread use of disposable needles. Improperly performed acupuncture can also cause bleeding (if a blood vessel is punctured) or injury to organs, nerves, or tissue, making it important to find a skilled and reputable practitioner.


Who Should Avoid This Therapy?
In general, there are no medical conditions that rule out the use of acupuncture except, perhaps, a morbid fear of needles. People at risk of easy bruising or excessive bleeding (for example, patients with clotting disorders and those taking a blood-thinning medication) would be prudent to avoid acupuncture, since there is a slight risk of damage to blood vessels. Pregnant women should avoid needle insertion on or near the abdomen.

Beijing Acupuncture & Herb Clinic
2645 North Berkeley Lake Rd., Suite 133. Duluth, Georgia 30096
Tel: 770-814-9898