By Erika Weisensee
For many people, the term “acupuncture” brings to mind images of needles. Those who haven’t tried this ancient form of healing wonder why someone would choose a treatment that requires being poked with needles. Does acupuncture hurt? How does it work and what can it treat? The answers to these questions will help you understand if you or someone you know could benefit from acupuncture.
Acupuncture, a component of Chinese medicine, is a safe, drug-free therapy for a variety of ailments, from arthritis and chronic pain to anxiety and digestive problems. In addition, acupuncture is recognized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as an effective treatment for several female health issues, including fertility, Menopause, PMS, and morning sickness.
During acupuncture, fine needles are placed at specific points on the body. The goal of acupuncture is to balance qi (pronounced chee), which flows through pathways in the body called meridians. Practitioners place needles at points where imbalances of qi are detected. By allowing qi to flow freely through the body, acupuncture optimizes circulation and provides nourishment to organs, glands, tissues and muscles.
Here are some other common questions and answers about acupuncture:
Q: Why would I see an acupuncturist?
A: When you are looking for a drug-free therapy for an existing problem, or when you are looking to achieve optimal health and well-being.
Q: Does it hurt?
A: The needles used in acupuncture are very fine and not like regular needles. There can be some sensation of pain when a needle is first inserted. But, most people find there is little or no pain and achieve a peaceful state of relaxation while the needles are in place.
Q: How do I find a skilled acupuncturist?
A: Approach finding an acupuncturist like you would other medical providers. Ask for recommendations from people you know. Make sure the practitioner is licensed and experienced, and don’t hesitate to ask for references.
For more information, visit www.medicalacupuncture.org.
### Erika Weisensee lives in Milwaukie and teaches writing and communication courses at the University of Portland.
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