This ancient healing art has been studied for many years by Western science. Most observers acknowledge its effectiveness, but clear understanding of its mechanisms and basis in science remains elusive. I do not believe that it is necessary to be able to explain all things in order to experience benefits. Perhaps acupuncture moderates aspects of our energy nature through neural reflexes, electro-chemical changes, local and systemic hormonal and chemical mechanisms, etc.
Although acupuncture does not cure everything, it seems to have wide-spread effects on pain, energy levels, sleep, immunity, digestion, etc. This treatment involves the placement of fine needles in various points throughout the body. This process is not painless. Although the insertion of needles is not particularly uncomfortable, the changes in body energy and dynamics as a result of the treatment can sometimes lead to a "healing crisis." This response, while not particularly enjoyable, is usually a good sign, indicating that the body is undergoing change, clearing stagnation, toxins, etc. Sometimes the "healing crisis" lasts for a day or two, during which time rest and ample fluids is advised.
Although some people find dramatic improvement in one or two treatments, most often a course of 6-8 treatments is required. Usually, within 3-4 times, we can get some idea as to whether there is sufficient benefit to continue. Often a course (6-8 treatments) will be repeated a few times over many months. The goal is to reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for regular treatment. However, many people that have experienced the healing benefits prefer to receive treatment several times a year to accrue the benefits of health maintenance.
Use of sterile disposable needles avoids transmission of diseases such as hepatitis or AIDS. Although no procedure is without some risk, significant acupuncture complications seem to be rare. Infection is unlikely due to the use of sterile disposable needles and the very nature of the needles themselves (they are not hollow and tend to penetrate rather than cut). Although fainting has been reported, this can be minimized by avoiding acupuncture when extremely hungry, tired, or excessively weakened. In addition, acupuncture is routinely done while lying down. Other inconveniences include occasional bruising (sometimes this additional discomfort actually seems to help by prolonging the activity in the selected point!).
You may have many questions about acupuncture. Although I may not be able to answer them all, I'd be delighted to share my ideas and speculations with you.
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