What is Acupuncture?
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
When to Consider Acupuncture?
Who Shouldn't Use Acupuncture?
What is Acupuncture good for? Click an Image to Explore...
LOWER BACK PAIN: Acupuncture is an age-old healing practice of traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are placed at specific ‘points’ in the body. It's primarily used to relieve pain but is also used to treat many other conditions. Millions of people use acupuncture; in France, one in five people has tried acupuncture.
FIBROMYALGIA: Studies that test how well acupuncture works against the pain of fibromyalgia have had mixed results. Some showed that it provided temporary pain relief, but others did not. A small study by the Mayo Clinic suggested that acupuncture may reduce two other problems of fibromyalgia: fatigue and anxiety.
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME: Acupuncture was tested and compared with steroid pills for the hand and arm pain of carpal tunnel syndrome. Researchers in Taiwan gave one group eight acupuncture treatments, over about a month, and those patients reported more relief, for a longer time, than the group taking medicine.
OTHER PAIN: People have tried acupuncture for neck pain, muscle pain, tennis elbow, and menstrual cramps, hoping to avoid medications and their side effects. The World Health Organization lists 28 different conditions that are sometimes treated with acupuncture. In the U.S., a review by the National Institutes of Health called for robust research to verify the promise that acupuncture holds for many different conditions.
NAUSEA: Acupuncture at the pericardium (P6) acupuncture point on the wrist can reduce the symptoms of nausea and vomiting, even after cancer drug treatments or surgery. Studies compared 10 different acupuncture methods -- including needles, electrical stimulation, and acupressure -- to drugs that block nausea or vomiting and found the acupuncture treatments worked.
CANCER CARE: Because acupuncture can lessen pain, nausea, and vomiting, it is sometimes used to help people cope with symptoms of cancer or chemotherapy. It also can help manage hot flashes associated with breast cancer. Be sure to talk to your doctor first and seek a practitioner who has experience working with cancer patients.
FERTILITY: Celebrities such as singers Celine Dion and Mariah Carey credited acupuncture -- used along with infertility treatments -- with helping them get pregnant. A review of medical studies backs up this view, suggesting that acupuncture may boost the effectiveness of fertility treatments. One theory holds that acupuncture helps by reducing stress and increasing blood flow to the ovaries.
VARIATIONS IN ACUPUNCTURE: Several other therapies use a different way of stimulating the acupuncture points. Moxibustion involves the burning of moxa, a bundle of dried mugwort and wormwood leaves, which can then be used to heat the acupuncture needles or warm the skin. Electro acupuncture adds electrical stimulation to the needles. Another recent variation uses laser needles that are placed on (but not in) the skin.
ACUPRESSURE: If you are afraid of needles, you may be able to get much of the same effect from acupressure. Acupressure involves pressing or massaging the acupuncture points to stimulate energy pathways. Scientific comparisons of acupressure and acupuncture are limited, but acupressure has been shown to be effective in reducing nausea and lessening labour pain.