Acupuncture and Moxibustion is a medical treatment that has been practiced for thousands of years in China and other Asian countries as well as now around the world. It is used as a means of treating and preventing disease. Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific sites (acupuncture points) along the body’s meridians to clear energy blockages and encourage the normal flow of energy (Qi) through the individual.
The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health. Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. Acupuncture corrects imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin. Today, acupuncture is an effective, natural and increasingly popular form of health care that is used by people whole over the world.
Acupuncture needles are so fine that there is no discomfort when they are inserted but a slight tingle (known as needle sensation) may be experienced. The needles are usually left in for approximately twenty minutes to more; during this time there may be a heaviness of the limbs and a feeling of relaxation. The Doctor / practitioner may also stimulate the acupuncture points using other methods, such as moxibustion (a traditional technique that involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb used to facilitate healing), cupping and electro-stimulation etc. in order to re-establish the flow of qi.
Since Acupuncture and moxibustion Medicine promotes the body’s natural healing ability, many conditions can be treated. It is also a comprehensive system of preventative health care and maintenance. The effectiveness of acupuncture is well-documented. Throughout its long history, acupuncture has established a solid reputation as an excellent alternative for health care that actually works, and is very effective to treat some diseases, where other methods of treatment could not achieve good result or failed.
An Acupuncture medicine doctor should possess adequate knowledge and experience for providing proper treatment to his/her patients. To avoid the unwanted complications in Acupuncture treatment please avoid taking treatment by quack / fake Acupuncturist. There are many around us without proper qualifications. Because inadequate knowledge and experience may lead to serious medical problems.
The World Health Organization recognizes Acupuncture as a viable means of treatment for a wide range of conditions. In an official report, Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials, the WHO has listed the following symptoms, diseases and conditions that have been shown through controlled trials to be treated effectively by acupuncture:
low back pain, neck pain, sciatica, tennis elbow, knee pain, periarthritis of the shoulder, sprains, facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders), headache, dental pain, tempromandibular (TMJ) dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, induction of labor, correction of malposition of fetus (breech presentation), morning sickness, nausea and vomiting, postoperative pain, stroke, essential hypertension, primary hypotension, renal colic, leucopenia, adverse reactions to radiation or chemotherapy, allergic rhinitis, including hay fever, biliary colic, depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke), acute bacillary dysentery, primary dysmenorrhea, acute epigastralgia, peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis.
In the field of acupuncture some good clinical researches have been completed, and there has also been some follow-up assessment of many of the conditions that have been treated by Acupuncture Doctors. Some diseases are more successfully treated by acupuncture and Moxibustion where other methods of treatment could not achieve good result or failed. Though this method of treatment has already been started in our country but due to quite less number of medically qualified acupuncture doctors available in our country and lack of proper perception about the application of this method in some specific diseases, the patients are depriving from the advantages of Acupuncture & Moxibustion treatment.
So, I have made an attempt to provide little information about the effects of Acupuncture and Moxibustion in few diseases. Many of the facts and figures quoted in the following sections are the results of my own experience and clinical trials carried out in China and others countries.
Diseases of the Muscles, Bones and Joints:
The muscles, bones and joints are usually called collectively the musculo-skeletal system. When disease or damage occurs to this system it nearly always results in pain, and most people use words such as rheumatism or arthritis to describe this type of pain.
There are three main types of damage that occur to the musculo-skeletal system; the first is a sudden injury or sprain which might be a domestic injury, or might be incurred during a sporting activity or in a car accident. This usually causes local pain and bruising lasting for a few days, or even a few weeks or more. The other main group is arthritis and this can be divided into two important types, Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Sprains: Sudden injury or sprains usually respond well to acupuncture. The pain resulting from a sprained shoulder, ankle etc will often continue for some days or weeks after the initial injury. Once a clear diagnosis has been made acupuncture can usually be used to relieve this type of pain.
The experience of a many of Acupuncture doctors, shows that, of the people treated for differing acutely painful conditions, about 70 percent obtain swift and significant pain relief. If a fracture of the bone is present then the pain relief gained from acupuncture is less effective than if the injury is due to a strain or tear of the muscles, tendons or ligaments. The main advantage of treating these acute pains with acupuncture is that chronic pain can be avoided. A sudden shoulder injury may produce pain and immobility for many months, sometimes years, but if acupuncture is used when the pain occurs then it seems that chronic pain may be avoided.
Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis and the rheumatic pains that result from this type of joint damage are quite a common problem. People frequently complain that their arthritic knee pain is worse in cold or damp weather and this demonstrates quite clearly the origin of the concept of pathogens in traditional medicine. The pathogen in osteoarthritis is almost always cold or damp and therefore these pains should be treated by moxibustion.
A great deal of research work has been done to investigate the effects of acupuncture on the pain caused by osteoarthritis. Clinical trials have been completed on knee, hip, elbow, neck and lower back pain, and the information from these trials shows that significant pain relief can be achieved in about 70 per cent of those who receive acupuncture. Some work suggests that only 50 per cent of people benefit from acupuncture while other trials show 95 per cent of the patients benefiting. Acupuncture also has a ‘magical quality’ that drugs do not have, so it is difficult to sort out the effects of the ‘magic’ as compared to the real effects of acupuncture. In spite of these problems, acupuncture is a safe and effective form of treatment for osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: The effects of acupuncture on rheumatoid arthritis are not so clear cut. During the early, acute, inflammatory stage of rheumatoid arthritis there is some evidence to suggest that Acupuncture might worsen the pain (though which usually may subside gradually) and therefore many acupuncturists do not treat acute rheumatoid arthritis. After some months the acute inflammatory stage subsides and the residual joint destruction may then lead to the development of a secondary osteoarthritis. This type of pain is amenable to acupuncture and responds in the same way as other osteoarthritic aches and pains. Chronic pain, due to disease of the musculo-skeletal system, is frequently amenable to acupuncture treatment. The published research shows that pain which has been present for many years can respond as well as pain that has been present for only a few months; therefore, from the available information, it is fair to say that acupuncture is ‘always worth a try’ in this type of condition.
Headaches: Headaches can be due to a multitude of factors; arthritis of the neck, dental problems, psychological problems, sinusitis, stress and tension, and head injury are a few of the many causes. Headaches are a common complaint and a notoriously difficult one to treat effectively, and they can be the cause of a considerable amount of distress and marital disharmony. Acupuncture treatment has been used to treat a wide variety of headaches, particularly migrainous headaches, and the results obtained have been very encouraging. The published work suggests that between 65-95 per cent of all headache sufferers obtain significant and long lasting pain relief from acupuncture treatment. Migraines seem to respond as well as, if not better than, other types of headache. Acupuncture therapy for headaches may cause the headaches to vanish completely, or occur with a markedly decreased intensity and/or frequency. The pain relief resulting from acupuncture treatment can sometimes be maintained for some years and re-treatment is usually required less frequently for headaches.
Diseases of the Nervous System:
Strokes: A stroke is caused by a disturbance of the blood supply to the brain. The blood vessels that normally supply blood to the brain can be compromised by becoming blocked or bleeding. This result in a deficient blood supply to the brain tissue and these events can be precipitated by a variety of factors such as raised blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and severe head injury. The brain is divided into many different functional areas, one area controlling speech, while another dominates the sensations of touch and pain. The functional impairment that occurs with a stroke depends on the area of the brain that is damaged; if the speech area is damaged by a lack of blood supply then the patient may be unable to speak properly. In China, acupuncture is the standard treatment for strokes. In the Western countries, the mainstays of stroke treatment are speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, but the Chinese feel that these methods have less to offer than acupuncture medicine. Both scalp and body acupuncture are techniques that can be used to aid recovery from a stroke. The research work suggests that acupuncture increases the blood supply to the brain, and for some unexplained reason this seems to improve functional ability and acts as a stimulus to recovery after a stroke.
Clinical trials completed by the Chinese doctor’s state that some effect can be gained from acupuncture in about 80 per cent of strokes. The success rate claimed is very high but to some extent this success rate is mirrored by the experience of a variety of doctors in the West. Western medicine often has little to offer the stroke patient and therefore acupuncture therapy is always worth considering. Ideally strokes should be treated within six months of the damage occurring. The Chinese doctors also treat their patients for long periods and a stroke patient may receive one hundred or two hundred acupuncture treatment sessions before being declared a success or a failure.
The Neuralgias (Nerve Pain): Trigeminal neuralgia usually presents with severe unilateral facial pain. Its cause is unclear but the painful facial spasms are often precipitated by cold or wind. The Chinese acupuncturist claim to be able to gain improvement, with acupuncture, in about 70 per cent of cases of trigeminal neuralgia. Judging by the experience of Western acupuncturists this success rate represents a rather high figure, although acupuncture can undoubtedly have a beneficial effect on this type of pain.
Postherpetic neuralgia is the pain that occurs after an attack of shingles. Shingles is a viral infection of the nerves, and the nerves affected by shingles can occasionally continue to cause severe pain after the shingles has cleared. It seems that of those patients with established postherpetic neuralgia, about 40 per cent gain some degree of long term benefit from acupuncture treatment. There are a vast number of aches and pains that are often described as neuralgic. Many of these occur as facial pain and most of them cause severe discomfort. It is always worthwhile to attempt to alleviate these pains by using acupuncture treatment.
Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia and Other Nervous Disorders: It is difficult to be objective about the treatment of disorders such as anxiety, Insomnia and depression, as the problems themselves are difficult to assess objectively, and therefore no good clear figures are available about their treatment with acupuncture. In spite of this, many acupuncture doctors, including the Chinese, treat a wide range of ‘mental disorders’ and insomnia (sleep problem) with acupuncture. Many people have stated that acupuncture is clearly effective in helping symptoms such as insomnia and bed-wetting, and can also create a feeling of general well-being. The Chinese doctors have completed trials on some of the more clearly defined and serious mental diseases, such as schizophrenia. In a trial involving over 400 patients they claim a 54 per cent cure rate for this disease, with a further 30 per cent showing ‘significant improvement’. However, from a variety of excellent research papers it is clear that acupuncture can influence quite radically many areas of the central nervous system, as well as neurotransmitters and others brain functions also. Therefore this therapy has a great role in brain related problems or neuro-developmental dysfunction.
Nerve Paralysis: Paralysis can also be treated by a variety of acupuncture techniques. The acupuncture must be continued for a long period. Sometimes daily for six months and the results from some of the Chinese research works are very encouraging. Chinese doctors claim that some 50-60 per cent of patients are likely to gain significant return of function if treated with acupuncture.
Facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy) is a disease of sudden onset that causes one side of the face to lose muscular power; the cause of this is unknown. Acupuncture and moxibustion can be used to treat this and the research claim a 75 per cent complete recovery rate but, again, this disease allows a significant percentage of spontaneous recovery. The Chinese research also claim that a further 20 per cent gain benefit from acupuncture, although not complete recovery. Even allowing for the known level of spontaneous resolution in facial paralysis it does seem that acupuncture has something extra to offer.
Parkinson’s disease, Epilepsy, nerve deafness etc: Acupuncture has been claimed to be effective in Parkinson’s disease, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, nerve deafness, and a large variety of other problems. According to some studies, Parkinson’s disease may be accompanied by an imbalance of energy along one or more meridians. The muscle stiffness, soreness, imbalance etc. of Parkinson’s may be alleviated by a series of treatments. It is always wise to remember that acupuncture is a harmless technique and can sometimes give excellent results in above casese where other medical methods have failed.
Autism /ASD, Cerebral Palsy etc: Acupuncture along with herbal therapy have been found highly effective for treating children with brain dysfunction, resulting in improvement in the patient’s overall functional abilities. Excellent results are being achieved through simultaneous application of Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine in the cases of ASD / Autism and Cerebral Palsy in different countries of the world. There are several research papers, articles etc. that has been published all over the world about the efficacy of Acupuncture and Herbal Medicines in this context. In my clinical practice I am also getting very effective result by applying integration of Acupuncture and Herbal treatment. I noticed that, formulated Herbal Medicine along with acupuncture session gives much result other than only Acupuncture treatment or only Herbal Medicine. Like other diseases, I treated several patients. Some of them improved tremendously just after few days of treatment.
ADD and ADHD: Acupuncture can help the patient to manage the Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), and may provide some relief which will help the patient to gain greater benefit from the therapies available to him or her, and can help with the side effects of those therapies. Taking advantage of everything the medical knowledge of both hemispheres has to offer is a great way to ensure the most effective treatment for this disruptive, often limiting and painful condition. Acupuncture can be an excellent complementary therapy for the treatment of ADD and ADHD. In some cases Acupuncture works as a magic bullet for the treatment of ADD and ADHD. A research showed that, Acupuncture treatment has a good effect on infantile attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, its total effective rate was higher and the changes in abnormal electroencephalogram and the curative effect were better.
Diseases of the Digestive System:
IBS: An increasing number of studies have been conducted on treating IBS, with promising results. These studies have documented that Chinese medicine can effectively treat IBS in a safe and drug-free way.
Indigestion: Exact figures for success rates are not available, but the ‘clinical impression’ that arises from a number of acupuncture doctors indicates that about 60 per cent of patients gain some long-term relief of their symptoms with acupuncture.
Diseases of the Respiratory System:
Asthma: Acupuncture causes the contracted muscular walls to dilate; the mechanism of this is unknown, but there is good Western research data to support this claim. A recent Chinese clinical trial on asthma showed that some 70 percent of asthmatics gained a ‘very good effect’ from acupuncture and moxibustion. The acupuncture treatment was able to decrease the frequency and intensity of asthmatic attacks over a period of a year or more. This result is encouraging as it shows that acupuncture and moxibustion can affect the response of the body to the environmental stimuli causing asthmatic attacks. Our clinical experience also supports this efficacy of Acupuncture and Moxibustion medicine.
Bronchitis: Acupuncture cannot rebuild lung tissue, but by opening up the breathing tubes it can allow the remaining lung tissue to function efficiently. The mechanism of acupuncture in bronchitis is probably much the same as in asthma, allowing more air to enter the lungs. Recent Chinese research works has shown that about 50 per cent of bronchitis ‘benefit’ from acupuncture. The treatment must be repeated regularly if the effect is to be maintained for long period. On the other hand acupuncture treatment also help to control the infection effectively in bronchitis.
Diseases of the Heart and Blood Vessels:
In China it is a common and acceptable form of treatment for some of these problems. A variety of experiments carried out in the western countries give clear support to the idea that acupuncture does have an effect on the circulatory system.
Angina: Using sophisticated measuring equipment the Chinese researchers have completed a variety of trials to assess the effects of acupuncture on the heart, and they have shown a marked increase in the functional ability and efficiency of the heart muscles after acupuncture. This is further supported by clinical work, which shows that some 80 per cent of patients with angina have improved after acupuncture. When acupuncture is used to treat angina a course of treatments is given, and then followed by booster treatments.
The Correction of Abnormal Heart Rhythms: Heart diseases can frequently cause an abnormal rhythm to the heart beat; this may manifest itself as palpitations, an irregular heart beat, or dropped beats. Acupuncture can correct a small number of these arrhythmias. In established atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beats), acupuncture affects a small percentage of cases, some 1.5 per cent, although in recently acquired arrhythmias, acupuncture can be effective in up to 70 per cent of cases.
The Use of Acupuncture in Addiction and Obesity:
A large number of Western countries acupuncturists are using a variety of acupuncture techniques to treat obesity, smoking and hard drug addiction. There is some excellent physiological and clinical evidence to support the use of acupuncture method in these areas. The withdrawal symptoms experienced by people giving up smoking, or drugs, can be alleviated by raising the levels of endorphins in the nervous system. Some people believe that the desire to eat is also mediated by the endorphin level in the brain. It is clear that endorphin levels throughout the nervous system can be increased by Acupuncture. The techniques used to achieve an increase in endorphin levels center around the use of ear acupuncture. It must be stressed that acupuncture cannot replace willpower. It can only help the withdrawal symptoms, or hunger pains, experienced by those already motivated and committed to solving their particular problem.
Obesity: Acupuncture seems to relieve the problem of hunger usually created by dieting. Many people who receive acupuncture to help with weight loss also go on a diet at the same time. It is difficult to assess exactly which factors are responsible for weight loss, the acupuncture or the diet, or both in combination. Most acupuncturists claim that 40-50 per cent of their patients experience some significant weight loss during treatment.
Hard Drug Addiction: Some excellent research work has been done in this field, especially in Hong Kong. It is clear that acupuncture can help to solve the severe withdrawal symptoms experienced by those coming off hard drugs like heroin.
Acupuncture treatment helps about 40 per cent of people to give up smoking over a period of about six months. Again, it is essential to be well motivated before embarking on a course of treatment. Acupuncture does seem to decrease the desire to smoke and also to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms produced by abstinence from tobacco.
Reduce the Discomforts and Side Effects of Chemo/Radiotherapy for Cancer:
The effect of acupuncture on chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting etc. has been studied over the past 20 years, and clinical evidence gathered to date has been favorable. Current practice guidelines recommend acupuncture as a complementary therapy for uncontrolled nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy.
The Use of Acupuncture in Obstetrics:
In China the major use of acupuncture in obstetrics is to provide analgesia (pain relief) during Caesarean section, and to correct foetal malpositions, such as breech (breech means when the baby is ‘bottom first’ rather than ‘head first’).
Fertility and Gynecologic Problems:
Women who are having problems with conception, premenstrual symptoms or menopausal issues will often see positive results with Acupuncture medicine. It may be possible to reduce or eliminate the need for Western pharmaceuticals. If drugs or hormones must be used, side effects may be reduced. For women who are experiencing disorders of conception, my own experience suggests that acupuncture and Herbal medicine is more effective and much less unpleasant and dangerous than hormonal treatments or in vitro fertilization procedures.
The correction of foetal malposition is achieved by applying moxibustion to an acupuncture point. In about 60 percent of women the foetus turns naturally prior to the thirty-fourth week of pregnancy; this can be increased to 90 per cent with the aid of moxibustion. After the thirty-fourth week, when natural version is less likely, the Chinese claim that 80 per cent of foetal malpositions will be corrected permanently by this procedure. Once corrected, the malposition does not recur, provided moxibustion is applied daily. There seems to be no available physiological basis with which to explain this finding.
Anaesthesia for Labour and Delivery:
Acupuncture anaesthesia is widely used for caesarean sections in China. A report recently published, discusses the results of 1,000 cases managed in this manner. The Chinese Acupuncturist claim a 98 per cent success rate in the abolition of pain, a quicker recovery rate from the operation, less blood loss, and the obvious advantage of the mother being able to see the baby at, or soon after, birth. This report finds acupuncture a superior form of analgesia compared to other forms of pain relief (general or epidural anaesthesia) for caesarean section. Acupuncture can also be used to provide pain relief in normal obstetric deliveries. Adequate assessment of this form of obstetric analgesia has not yet been published, although the experience of a wide variety of acupuncturists in the western world would indicate that it is a useful and effective procedure.
Acupuncture anaesthesia is widely used in China and it has been used in a wide variety of operations, from minor procedures to open heart surgery or brain operations. It is undoubtedly an effective form of pain relief in the majority of people, but there is always a small percentage who fail to gain adequate analgesia from acupuncture. In general, acupuncture allows for a safer operation, with less likelihood of complications, and a swifter post-operative recovery. (Excerpted from Acupuncture: It’s Place in Western Medical Science, George T. Lewith M.A., M.R.C.G.P., M.R.C.P. )