What is Acupuncture?

What is Acupuncture?

Inserting acupuncture needlesA Chinese medical technique, acupuncture has been practiced for more than 4,000 years and has been empirically proven effective in the treatment of specific ailments. It is used primarily for the relief of pain but also for curing disease and improving general health. Recent research – which included testing the thickness of the epidermis over the acupuncture points – has confirmed the location of these points.

Acupuncture consists of inserting hair-thin needles through the acupuncture points – that generally lie on pathways called meridians. The needles are typically inserted 6mm to 10mm deep, but some procedures require the needles to be inserted as deep as 25mm. The acupuncture points are then stimulated using various techniques such as; gentle twirling, by heat, or by stimulation with a weak electrical current. Acupuncture points also can be stimulated by pressure (Shiatsu, Acupressure, Tuina), and ultrasound. Recent developments have led to the use of certain wavelengths of light.



The World Health Organization has publicly announced that acupuncture is suitable for treating the following: –

Neurological and Muscular Disorders such as: –

  • Headaches
  • Migraine
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Facial paralysis
  • Post-stroke paresis
  • Peripheral neuritis
  • Neurological bladder dysfunction
  • Bed wetting
  • Itercostal neuralgia
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Sciatica
  • Low back pain
  • Osteoarthritis

Ear, nose, and throat disorders, uncluding: –

  • Toothache
  • Pain after tooth extraction
  • Gingivitis
  • Acute or chronic Otis
  • Acute sinusitis
  • Acute rhinitis
  • Nasal catarrh
  • Acute tonsillitis

Gastrointestinal Disorders, including: –

  • Oesophageal spasm
  • Hiccups
  • Acute or chronic gastritis
  • Chronic duodenal ulcers
  • Acute or chronic colonitis
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Paralytic ileus

Respiratory Disorders, such as: –

  • Bronchial asthma in children or adults (without complications)

Eye Disorders, including: –

  • Acute conjunctivitis
  • Central retinitis
  • Nearsightedness
  • Cataracts (without complication)

In addition, acupuncture has been used for centuries in China to treat other problems, such as knee pain, sprains and strains, and most gynaecological complaints.

The depth of insertion of the needles is dependent upon the nature of the problem, the underlying anatomy of the points selected, the patient’s size, age, and constitution. In general, needles are inserted from 6mm to 25mm in depth.

Needles should always be of the sterilised, disposable variety thus absolutely assuring that there is no transmission of communicable disease from patient to patient due to contaminated needles.

Although acupuncture is the insertion of needles, there are other techniques and methods used by acupuncture therapists. The most commonly of these are moxibustion, which is the burning of the herb mugwort over the affected area to heat it, cupping, and electronic stimulation. Shiatsu, Acupressure, and Tuina Chinese remedial massage are also used.

Acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theory of Five Elements that describes the flow of Qi through discrete channels or meridians. The Qi in each meridian has a particular quality: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood. Illness is the result of an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi through the meridians. Acupuncture is used to regulate the flow of Qi, increasing it in areas of deficiency and decreasing it in areas of excess – thereby bringing balance and harmonious flow of Qi.