I started my life as an acupuncture therapist with a mission to serve the ailing humankind in the most compassionate and non-invasive manner. The choice of alternative healing was the most obvious considering all other healing methods have reached their saturation in bringing true and lasting relief to patients.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a healing modality that improves the body’s functions and promotes the natural, self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites known as acupuncture points. These acupuncture points are stimulated by inserting fine, sterile needles into the skin. Acupressure, electrical stimulation, moxibustion, cupping, massage etc may further enhance the effects.
Traditional Chinese medicine is based on ancient philosophy that described the universe and the body in terms of two opposing forces namely yin and yang. These forces manifest themselves in the form of five energies namely wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Energies flow in the body along specific pathways called meridians. When these forces are in balance, the body is healthy. This perpetual and healthy flow of energy maintains the balance of the yin and yang forces. However, if for some reason the flow of energy gets blocked or imbalanced, the disruption can lead to pain, lack of function or illness.
Treatment and diagnosis
The process of curing the imbalance involves multiple steps not very different, yet more thorough, than a visit to the doctor.
The first visit to the acupuncture centre involves detailed background check wherein every minute detail of the patient is observed—scars, skin discoloration, voice tonality, gait and attitude in carrying the body, skin and hair texture and emotional response. Tongue diagnosis, pulse diagnosis, etc. also help to come to the right conclusions. The above process provides the acupuncturist information about energy flow through the patient’s body, along with an insight into their energy constitution and imbalances. Based on this information, treatment protocol is decided.
If for some reason the flow of energy gets blocked or imbalanced, the disruption can lead to pain, lack of function or illness
The correct diagnosis is followed by the treatment stage. Here, we follow the dictum of accomplished acupuncture teachers—an ideal treatment plan should constitute minimal needles and maximum cure.
Needles are inserted at various acupuncture points. Many a times, along with needles moxibustion or electrical stimulation is given. Needles are to be retained by the patient for 20 minutes. All this is aimed at achieving balanced energies thereby curing the ailment. To ensure optimum patient care, the needles are never reused.
Commonly asked questions
Here are answers to common queries that patients generally have about acupuncture
Does acupuncture have any side effects?
Acupuncture has minimal side effects, one of them being hypoglycaemia [drop in blood sugar levels] in certain cases. Hence, it is advisable not to undergo acupuncture treatment on an empty stomach.
Does inserting needles into the skin hurt at all?
The only pain worth mentioning is an equivalent of a pin-prick lasting no more than a micro-second.
How many sittings does one need?
The time frame varies according to a person’s constitution, how the body responds to the treatment and whether the ailment is chronic or acute.
In what ailments is acupuncture helpful?
Acupuncture has proven to be extremely successful in curing chronic ailments where mainstream medicine has promised only disease management. These ailments include—arthritis, slip-discs, digestive problems, circulatory/nervous system ailments, infertility, gynaecological issues, spondylitis, pain management, respiratory disorders, skin disorders, etc.
The following case studies will help you understand the efficacy of acupuncture
- Mrs A [name concealed to protect identity] came with chronic pain in the left knee. Because it was due to an old athletic injury, the orthopaedic doctor diagnosed the pain as a cartilage tear. This injury would often lead to the knee joint getting locked if the patient sat in a squatting position, followed by extreme pain to unlock the joint. The advised treatment was invasive arthroscopy. The treatment rendered was needles on the gall bladder meridian, which looks after ligaments and cartilage of our body. The treatment was aimed at strengthening the function of the cartilage and lasted for three months. The results were termed as “magical” by the patient.
- Ms B, an aspiring actress, came for cosmetic acupuncture treatment. Cosmetic acupuncture helped her regain her complexion along with a face lift, contouring, even tone of skin, collagen building, glow—all of it in 12 sessions.
- Mr C came for treating his addiction to cigarettes. He was smoking 20 sticks a day. Semi permanent acupuncture needles were given in his ears and in a month he quit smoking. It’s been nine years since he stopped and is still going strong.
Ailments that have been cured due to acupuncture are numerous and the case studies far too many to find mention here, but the one thing that does merit mention is the smile and happiness evident in patients when they are cured of their illness. The realisation that an illness that was causing them deep anguish has been evicted from their lives is the greatest reward that I receive as a doctor.
This was first published in the December 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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