Acupuncture is a major part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM health is achieved by maintaining the body in a state of balance. According to TCM, The best way to maintain or restore balance is to ensure the natural flow of qi (vital energy) within the body. The pathways on which this energy travels have been studied and utilized in China for over 3,000 years. There are 12 major meridians, or pathways, and 8 secondary meridians connected by more than 2,000 specific acupuncture points. Very fine needles are inserted into the skin to stimulate those specific points. It has traditionally been taught as a preventive form of health care, but has also been found useful in the treatment of a variety of acute and chronic conditions. In modern times, it is used for the prevention of and treatment of diseases, for the relief of pain.
Many studies have been conducted in an effort to understand how acupuncture works in terms of Western Medicine. However, this has proven difficult. It is proposed that acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.
Although some people in the United States are still skeptical, acupuncture actually predates Western medical thought and has a track-record a few thousand years long to back it up. Many physicians and other healthcare practitioners today are seeking ways, such as acupuncture, to complement their treatments and are recommending acupuncture to their patients.