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Medical Wellness Archives

Acupuncture As A Supplemental Therapy

2004: Volume 1, Number 2


Dr. Patrick Gentile

Dr. Gentile is director of a domplementary and alternative medicine program in Wilmington, OH.


Acupuncture is a Chinese system of healing that dates back at least 3,000 years. In acupuncture, sterile painless needles— as thin as a hair—are placed in strategic spots on the body to help fight pain and disease. The needles sit in place for 10 to 30 minutes while the patient lies comfortably on a massage table. Many people find the experience so relaxing they fall asleep during treatment.

Traditional Chinese medicine tells us that acupuncture works by directing the flow of qi (pronounced chi) through the body. According to ancient Chinese texts, disease arises when the normal flow of qi is blocked by what we would define today as stress, infection, poor diet, and other lifestyle issues such as smoking. From these and other factors, diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, emphysema, arthritis, and other common ailments may arise. Acupuncture is said to benefit people with these conditions by unblocking the flow of the body’s natural energy, thus restoring health.

Research suggests that acupuncture may exert its healing effect by way of a network that runs through the body but is independent of the nervous or blood circulatory system. Laboratories continue to study the exact mechanisms through which acupuncture produces its therapeutic results. Increasing interest has focused on acupuncture for treating conditions that have no known therapy.

Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and
stress are among problems helped by acupuncture treatments.
In a typical acupuncture session, the patient lies down and is asked to relax. Then the acupuncture needles are inserted at specific points on the body. The location of the needles and the number of needles used will vary depending on the condition being treated. In certain instances, such as low back pain, a mild electrical current may be added to the treatment to provide faster and more thorough healing.

Treatments such as acupuncture are intended to provide a useful supplement to the therapies being provided by the patient’s physician and should not be viewed as a replacement for them. Like all therapies, it may not benefit every patient, but countless numbers of people have been helped by acupuncture. Research is ongoing to define acupuncture and expand its use as its popularity continues to grow.


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