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Acupuncture – The Lowdown on an Ancient Practice

Today, many women are looking for alternative interventions for their medical concerns. Some are concerned about potential side effects from medications, while others feel that western medicine too often treats health problems in isolation, ignoring concerns about overall wellness. If you've been considering alternative medicine, one practice that is highly regarded by both natural practitioners and western medical doctors is acupuncture.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese traditional medicine that has been used since at least 200 BCE. The healing tradition involves inserting small needles into the skin. Practitioners believe that doing this affects the flow of qi or energy into the body. Depending on where the needles are inserted, practitioners feel they can adjust the flow in different ways to produce different benefits for the body.

Does Acupuncture Work?

In clinical studies, acupuncture has been shown to alleviate symptoms of chronic pain, respiratory disorders, nervous system disorders and diseases, mental health problems and digestive and urinary disorders. Western medical science doesn't fully understand why acupuncture provides the benefits that it does (or has been reported by many who use the practice claim). One of the most widely supported theories is that the needles activate the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord, which could potentially provide benefits for many different medical problems.

Is Acupuncture Painful?

Everyone has different perceptions of pain, so it's not possible to know how you will perceive a treatment. Most people who undergo acupuncture state that it can be mildly uncomfortable but not painful. It is important to note that the most common side effect of acupuncture, something called needle shock, is most likely to occur in people who are afraid of the needles and anxious about the treatment. Although the symptoms of needle shock are temporary problems like mild nausea and fainting, if you have a fear of needles, it would probably be prudent to not attempt to undergo acupuncture.

Generally speaking, acupuncture is a safe practice; however, it is not suitable for everyone. People with certain circulatory problems, immune system deficiencies and some other health problems should not undergo acupuncture. Be sure to discuss the treatments with your health care provider before visiting an acupuncturist and fully disclose any health conditions that you have to the practitioner.

Only select practitioners who are licensed by your state and be sure that the individual that you choose uses only single-use disposable needles to ensure your safety. By discussing the matter with your health care provider and being choosy about the acupuncturist that you select, you can give yourself the best chance to have a positive experience.

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