For those new to alternative medicinal practices, acupuncture is often considered one of the more taboo methods of treating back and neck pain.  The thought of having hundreds of thin needles stuck into different parts of one’s body, called acupuncture points, sounds like something out of a horror movie at first. However studies have shown that there’s a strong correlation with acupuncture and pain relief.

Yellow-Emperor
The Yellow Emperor whose medicinal literature is the basis for all acupuncture treatments today

Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that was used as far back as the first century BC where its many forms were depicted in a Chinese text called The Classic of Internal Medicine of The Yellow Emperor. It has been researched for centuries so that we may gain a more complex understanding of the body’s energetic balance. However, the technique has only recently gained popularity in the Western Hemisphere.  On March 17th, 1929 The National Medical Assembly dismissed an attempt by Western physicians to ban acupuncture. This day is still celebrated in China as annually a Chinese Doctor’s Day.

People are most commonly drawn to acupuncture to treat orthopedic problems, but it can help with a plethora of things including: back, knee, or neck pain, reproductive issues, hormone imbalances, anxiety, depression, addiction, and migraines.  While pain medication may provide temporary relief, acupuncture works to help the source of the pain. It also doesn’t cause the lethargic feeling often brought on by pain medication.

So how does it work? Acupuncture utilizes needles so small that often patients don’t even feel them being inserted. The needles are placed in the appropriate location, which varies amongst individuals, and patients then go into a state of deep relaxation for roughly 20 minutes.  Some practitioners include massages as well as herbal medicines such as teas, tinctures, or powders to stimulate patients.

Matthew Bauer, President of Acupuncture Now Foundation described how the method “helps the body to more effectively heal itself, by allowing the brain to clearly monitor the body’s condition”. This is one of the core beliefs of many types of holistic practices. Western medicine can be particularly negligent of this. Holistic practitioners seek to provide clarity of both body and mind. By treating the individual on a larger scale, practices like acupuncture provide a long term solution, and act as the foundation for an overall healthier lifestyle.