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Conditions that Acupuncture Can Address
What Is Acupuncture, What Is It Most Commonly Used For, And How Good Is The Scientific Evidence For It As A Treatment?

In an official report, Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed the following symptoms, diseases and conditions that have been shown through controlled trials to be treated effectively by acupuncture:

  • low back pain
  • neck pain
  • sciatica
  • tennis elbow
  • knee pain
  • periarthritis of the shoulder
  • sprains
  • facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • headache
  • dental pain
  • tempromandibular (TMJ) dysfunction
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • induction of labor
  • correction of malposition of fetus (breech presentation)
  • morning sickness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • postoperative pain
  • stroke
  • essential hypertension
  • primary hypotension
  • renal colic
  • leucopenia
  • adverse reactions to radiation or chemotherapy
  • allergic rhinitis, including hay fever
  • biliary colic
  • depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  • acute bacillary dysentery
  • primary dysmenorrhea
  • acute epigastralgia
  • peptic ulcer
  • acute and chronic gastritis

Question: What is acupuncture, what is it most commonly used for, and how good is the scientific evidence for it as a treatment? (Do scientists know how or why acupuncture works?)

Answer: Acupuncture is a technique and a manipulation of fine needles placed on specific points on the body to achieve a therapeutic benefit. It originated in China over two thousand years ago and is practiced worldwide today. It is a way of promoting a natural healing in the body.

The classic Chinese explanation is that living beings have an energy known as Chi circulating through invisible channels or Meridians on the body. The interruption of flow can be caused by illness, or the interruption of flow can lead to illnesses.

The reason why acupuncture needles are used is to manipulate the flow of energy, because acupuncture points are known where the energy comes very close to the surface of the body.

In an official report, the World Health Organization listed over thirty symptoms, diseases and conditions that have been helped through controlled trials to be effectively treated with acupuncture. In the United States, most people seek acupuncture to treat different types of pain, including musculoskeletal pain, headaches and so forth.

Musculoskeletal pain may include back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, neck pain and other types of joint pain.

People have also used acupuncture successfully to treat postoperative nausea and vomiting, as well as chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Stress and anxiety have also been treated effectively by acupuncture.

A great deal of scientific research has been performed to explain how acupuncture may work. There’s been no consensus statement. The modern scientific theory is that acupuncture needles stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals in various parts of the body. These chemicals may change the experience of pain, or trigger the release of other chemicals or hormones that my influence the way the internal regulating system is working in the body.