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Imagine having crippling back pain as you arise out of bed every morning, or sharp pains in your shoulders and knees that no longer allow you to perform up to your actual ability. Whether it is in athletics, at work, or even just through out your daily life these problems can hinder you from being able to perform at your best. Imagine a therapy that can cure these physical disabilities, relieve stress, and put an end to depression. Acupuncture is an alternative means of therapy that can do just that.

People use acupuncture for many different bodily illnesses, mental illnesses, and addiction problems. One expert states that it can be performed in numerous ways including using heat, pressure, friction, suction, and sending impulses of electromagnetic energy to specific anatomic points in the body, but most commonly performed using needles. (Cook, 1999)

Today there are many options when choosing an approach for improved health and health care. Not only are we making intense progress in modern medicines, but also the use of alternative medicines is widely increasing. One form of alternative medicine that is widely used today is acupuncture. Acupuncture has been a complete system of treatment for at least two thousand years. First documented in ancient China, acupuncture over the past two thousand years, has continued to evolve and develop.

Along with the growing use of this alternative form of treatment, more people in the western culture must be informed of the many benefits that can be received with this type of therapy. More people must know their current options in today’s medicine. Acupuncture is an ancient form of healing that has proven safe and effective in treating a variety of conditions.

Many people are unaware of what acupuncture really is. According to J.M. Helms (2001), “Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and improve functioning. This is done by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points.” Acupuncture is performed with many different techniques, but Zoe Brenner (1997) states, “The healing technique of acupuncture is founded on the principle that internal harmony is essential for good health.”

Here are a few cases that you may possibly relate to; studied by author of Thorston’s Principles of Acupuncture, Angela Hicks (1997). Case number one starts with an older woman named Edna. Edna has constant pain in her right shoulder. This condition has made her feel that her life has become,” [not] worth living.” Just lifting her grandchildren is a difficult task. Secondly, we have Paul a fifty six year old gentleman that has severe migraines. Paul has tried homeopathy, reflexology, aromatherapy, and osteopathy and has experienced no improvement. Doctors have provided Paul with painkillers to try and dull the pain. Lastly, there is Marion, a forty eight year old full time nurse and student in college dealing with depression. Marion had felt that she had lost all of her confidence, and found herself consumed with worry about her classes. All three of these subjects have begun acupuncture treatments hoping to one-day return to their normal selves.

The target ailments that acupuncture can treat are almost endless. Here is a listing of the most common reasons people seek therapy by acupuncture: arthritis, asthma, athletic injury, back problems, chronic fatigue, colds, depression, earaches, headaches, hemorrhoids, indigestion, insomnia, nausea, chronic pain, sore throat, stress, and toothaches. (Brenner, 1997) Acupuncture has also made medical progress in the following disorders: Digestive disorders, Respiratory disorders, neurological/muscular disorders, and urinary/menstrual and reproductive problems. (Helms, 2001)

Not only has acupuncture made a difference in many medical cases, but has also began to cause positive change with many addition problems as well. Charles Vincent (2001) quotes, “Acupuncture is used in more than 20 states in over 800 drug dependency programs. Patients who go through these programs have lower re-arrest rates on drug-related charges than those not treated with acupuncture.” Currently the U.S. Government sponsors the use of acupuncture in drug rehabilitation programs.

Acupuncture can work in many ways to help maintain human health and well being, but it is still considered alternative medicine in the western countries unlike in eastern countries, such as China, where it is considered modern medicine.

Acupuncture dates back over thousands of years ago. An internet information source says, “Some acupuncture needles date back 3,000 years and have been found in Inner Mongolia, (Ivillage, 2002)” but acupuncture can scientifically be traced back to B.C. times. An acupuncture expert, Kevin O’Neil (2001) states, “The history of acupuncture is much longer than the needles are. Most scholars agree that stone probes, found in pre-historic Chinese caves and tombs were the original acupuncture/acupressure instruments. Such stone probes date back to prehistory, over 5,000 years ago. Acupuncture using needles and the systemized meridians [though] is more traceable to the past 2000 years.”

One scientist has made an unbelievable discovery about how far this therapy may really date back. William Corliss (1999) writes “the Tyrolean iceman died in the Alps about 5,200 years ago, but his mummified body is exceptionally well preserved- so well that 15 tattoo groups on his body stand out. Most are at common acupuncture points. Iceman supposedly suffered from arthrosis of the lumbar spine. The iceman’s body is punctured at the points usually used by acupuncturists to treat this condition. Another Scientist named Leopold Dorfer (1998) says, “these findings raise the possibility that the practice of therapeutic intended acupuncture originated long before the medical tradition of ancient China (approx. 1000 B.C.) and its geographical origins were Eurasian rather than East Asian, consistent with far-reaching intercultural contacts of pre-historic mankind.” Even though there is evidence that acupuncture has been practiced for ages, it didn’t become a popular method of therapy in the western countries until the 1970’s. (Ivillage, 2002)

To fully understand the nature of acupuncture and the theories behind it we must take a look at the qi & blood, and the yin & yang aspects of treatment. Honora Wolfe (2001), an acupuncture activist, believes “Yin and yang are the cornerstones for understanding, diagnosing, and treating the body and mind with acupuncture or any other types of Chinese medicines.” George Lewith (2001) also states “The theory of yin and yang is a kind of world outlook. It holds that all things have two opposite aspects, yin & yang, which are both opposite and at the same time independent.”

Every organ within the body has a yin and yang side. Some examples of yin and yang are….

After understanding that everything has a yin and yang, you can relate this to acupuncture by seeing that, for example, if the upper and lower (Yin &Yang) of the spine are unequal they may just need balanced out to return you back a healthy condition. Furthermore, you must understand the qi & blood aspect of acupuncture. “qi (pronounced Chee) is often translated as energy, and has five specific functions: Defense- protecting the body, Transformation- breaking down the substances into vitamins and minerals that the body can use, Warmth- warming the body inside and out, Restraint holds organs and substances in proper place inside the body, and Transportation- motivating force for all transportation in the body.”(Wolfe, 2001) Qi and blood are the two most important complementary pairs of yin and yang within the human body, like fire and water to the earth. The Internet source, Oriental Medicine (1999) quotes, “Oriental medicine views Blood as a manifestation of qi with very different functional aspects than the blood we understand through the eyes of Western Medicine. Spleen and Stomach are the primary sources of qi and Blood as they are the starting point of the transformation process which turns our food and water intake into blood.” Yin and yang along with qi and Blood are very important keys for acupuncturists to properly diagnose and perform tr.............

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