The method and results of acupuncture have both Chinese traditional and Western neurological explanations. According to Chinese traditional medicine, the human body is made up of ‘Qi’, which are patterns of energy flow. When these channels of energy become disrupted for whatever reason, diseases and various bodily pains are triggered. The insertion of an acupuncture needle at key energy points, otherwise known as an acupuncture point, of which there are 350, is thus believed to restore the body’s ideal energy flow.
Western explanations for the method and results of acupuncture rely on neurology. According to neuroscience, acupuncture points are places where connective tissue, nerves, and muscles can be stimulated through controlled damage from an acupuncture needle. The insertion of the needle at key points stimulates blood flow to the area and activates the body’s natural pain-reducing responses, and anti-inflammation responses, which promotes muscle relaxation, the reducing of swelling and pain and more.
Acupuncture has been used to relieve nausea and pain in patients recovering from serious operations or chemotherapy. Acupuncture had also been used as an alternative healing approach to patients rehabilitating from a stroke, with chronic headaches, osteoarthritis, back pain and asthma amongst other medical problems.
When performed by a trained practitioner, acupuncture is relatively risk-free. However, without a high quality, certified acupuncturist, accidents such as punctured lungs or viral infections from using unsanitary needles can be a risk. Sometimes, a bacterial infection at the site of the acupuncture point can occur if dirty needles are used or if the acupuncturist does not follow the correct procedure of washing and gloving his or her hands, as well as performing the procedure in a clean and disinfected environment.