If you have a health problem, it may seem strange that someone suggests that you stick needles in your skin. It doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that could solve any problem.
However, traditional Chinese medicine has suggested for at least 3,000 years that needles can be a real treatment for health. Several studies, in addition to millions of people around the world who have been to acupuncture sessions, agree.
Read a little more about acupuncture treatment, the ancient practice of balancing energies for better health
- 1 What is acupuncture?
- 2 Benefits: what is acupuncture for?
- 3 Types of acupuncture
- 4 Acupuncture points
- 5 Does acupuncture hurt?
- 6 Acupuncture Course
- 7 Price and where to do acupuncture
- 8 Does acupuncture lose weight?
- 9 Who can do acupuncture?
- 10 Risks of acupuncture
- 11 Common questions
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine and, in its most basic form, consists of applying needles to specific points on the body, called acupoints.
The stimulation of acupoints encourages an organism’s response, bringing balance to the so-called vital energy, or Qi, improvement of circulation, release of neurotransmitters and homeostasis (condition of balance of the organism as a whole).
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that the circulation of vital energy, Qi, and blood, called Que, is essential for the health of the body and when there are blockages in this circulation, unpleasant symptoms present themselves. Acupuncture seeks to break blockages and balance energies.
The word “acupuncture” comes from the Latin. “Acus” means needle and “puncture” is placement, so it can be translated as “placement of needles”.
The treatment, in Chinese, is called “Zhen Jíu”, where “Zhen” means needle and “Jíu” means fire, represented by Moxibustion or application of the herb Artemísia sinensis in the form of an herbal cone or in the form of a heated cigar applied above the acupoints. The practice does not necessarily use only needles, but also heat, pressure and bleeding, in addition to other techniques.
The recognition of acupuncture as effective therapy is complex. The mechanisms by which the practice works are not completely known to science, but the effects have already been measured in studies and it has been found that it has benefits for the health of practitioners.
In addition, there are studies that indicate that the effects of acupuncture are caused by stimulating the central and peripheral nervous system. The needles act on the nerves and their effects start from this stimulus that is both mechanical, considering the direct physical effect of the needle, and biochemical, considering the chemical substances released by the body when facing this stimulus.
Acupuncture is mainly used to help traditional treatment, as an integrative and complementary practice, increasing success rates.
Scientifically, needles are not able to cure a serious disease on their own, but studies indicate that they can help the body recover from surgery, fight an infection or relieve pain when used in conjunction with medical treatments, among other effects.
In the case of functional diseases, acupuncture can be used alone or in a complementary way.
Acupuncture can be used as a treatment and as a maintenance of health. Even if the patient is not suffering from any symptoms, it can be applied to control day-to-day stress and to maintain well-being. In addition, it can be used as an integrated therapy in several diseases and conditions, such as:
Acupuncture treatment can bring relaxation and reduce the pressures of life that can cause people anxiety .
The sessions can promote several mental benefits, in addition to not interfering with drug treatments.
Therefore, if you are undergoing medical treatments, acupuncture can be an extra ally, in addition to being a medical specialty recognized and regulated by the Brazilian Medical Association and the Federal Council of Medicine.
Traditional Chinese medicine believes that body and mind are closely linked and to affect one is to affect the other. This is part of the philosophy of acupuncture and is also the basis used to say that the ancient practice of acupuncture can bring benefits to people with mood disorders such as depression .
Just like in the case of anxiety, if you are undergoing drug treatment for the problem, there is no need to stop. Combining the two treatments can even enhance them and guarantee better results in less time.
The relaxation time provided by an acupuncture session, by itself, since it is a great ally against stress. In addition, the use of Chinese therapy can have direct effects on stress by stimulating acupoints.
Acupuncture can help with sleep disorders like insomnia , bringing both greater tranquility and activating acupuncture points related to sleep.
Doctors point out that acupuncture alone is not able to cope with eating disorders and changes in habit are necessary. However, practice can help prepare your body and mind to cope with changes, which are not easy.
In addition, as eating disorders have a strong emotional relationship, treatments that reduce stress and anxiety, such as acupuncture, are of great value and can assist in conducting treatment.
The practice of acupuncture also proves to be effective in the treatment of chronic pains ranging from osteoarthritis to migraines. Several studies have already been carried out indicating the efficiency of needles in reducing pain, in addition to the several other benefits brought by the treatment.
Acupuncture causes biochemical reactions in tissues, which can release endorphins and neurotransmitters with an effect on mood, bringing a sense of pleasure and pain relief from stimuli of the needles in the points, with effects on the nervous system.
There are anesthetic properties in acupuncture, which can be used even in surgical procedures. In some cases, even cesarean sections are performed only with anesthesia with acupuncture. It is capable of considerably reducing pain during the procedures, in addition to allowing the patient to become completely lucid.
In addition to those already listed, treatments for several other conditions can be helped by the presence of acupuncture in the patient’s life. Some of them are:
- Emotional conditions;
- High pressure;
- Sexual dysfunction;
- Menstrual changes;
- Menstrual cramps;
Acupuncture points, also called acupoints, are considered important for practice because, when stimulated, they cause effects on the body and mind. That is, it is not enough to apply the needle anywhere on the body.
Acupoints are different regions in the body, presenting a greater number of free nerve terminals, mast cells (cells that participate in the body’s defense process) and a lower electrical resistance of the skin.
This stimulation can be performed in several ways, with different techniques. Are they:
Classical acupuncture (needles)
The most famous technique of acupuncture is the one that uses needles. Small metal rods, usually stainless steel, extremely thin, made to penetrate the skin practically without pain and usually not very deep, stimulating the specific points.
The needles are sterile and disposable to prevent infections and the area is cleaned with cotton wool with alcohol before application, also trying to avoid any risk with. The time that needles stay in the body depends on the purpose of the treatment, and can vary from 5 minutes to 1 hour.
Suction (suction cup)
Suction uses suction cups to create negative pressure on acupoints, stimulating them differently to bring benefits to the patient’s health. After this treatment, it is possible that the body has reddish spots or bruises that disappear after some time.
Electroacupuncture uses electrical impulses in the needles to enhance the practice. These impulses are controlled and can be maintained for long periods of time as needed. The technique appears to have more extensive effects than classical acupuncture.
Moxa therapy uses heat instead of needles. It stimulates acupuncture points through burnt herbs that are close to the region, warming it up and bringing the benefits of the technique. The herb is traditionally Artemisia, which is approximately 1 cm away from the skin during treatment, but this distance may vary depending on the patient’s heat tolerance.
Auriculotherapy, or Auricular Medicine, is a cousin of acupuncture, and is called reflexology because the ear is a microsystem representing the entire body. It stimulates regions of the ear that traditional Chinese medicine connects with the entire body. In some cases, stimulation is done with seeds.
The practice dictates that the auriculotherapy points do not exist initially and appear when an imbalance in the body appears. Thus, it is easier to evaluate, but there are controversies.
Acupuncture points, or acupoints, are small regions of the skin that, according to the tradition of practice, are connected to the body’s meridians , which are the channels through which the body’s energies pass.
Acupuncture, like much of traditional medicine and Chinese culture, deals with this energy, which is called Qi, through practices such as Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong.
By stimulating the meridians in the correct places, the acupoints, it is possible to make changes in Qi, balancing it in the body, organs or mind. Thus acupuncture is capable of causing benefits to the patient’s health.
According to practice, there are more than 300 acupoints that pass through the 12 energy meridians.
For neurology, acupuncture stimuli cause reactions in the nervous system. Specific electrical impulses are found in the brain when stimulated by specific acupoints, which confirms that the needles cause certain effects.
Normally, no. The patient feels the needle penetrating the skin, but it is extremely thin and the perforation is superficial, so only a small prick can be felt in most cases, or other sensations such as weight or a small shock.
There are places that, depending on the sensitivity of each person, can be more painful.
However, in the case of auriculotherapy and moxa therapy, pain is possible and even probable. Moxa therapy uses the heat of the burnt herb, and if it gets too close to the skin, it can burn.
In auriculotherapy, professionals say that pain is part of the treatment, since the points of this technique only appear when there is an imbalance in the body, which can cause the regions to become sore.
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The professional who can practice acupuncture is the acupuncturist or acupuncturist . There are practitioners who have no higher education, taking only a mid-level course in acupuncture. However, professionals from different areas of health can perform acupuncture as long as they take the necessary specialization courses.
In Brazil, a total of 7 Federal Health Councils recognize the practice and allow their professionals to practice acupuncture. They are the Federal Councils of Medicine , Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy , Nursing , Speech Therapy , Pharmacy , Psychology and Biomedicine . Professionals in these areas may seek postgraduate studies or residency in acupuncture to specialize.
There are several clinics that offer the acupuncture service, at varying prices. In addition, the therapy is part of the National Policy of Integrative and Complementary Practices (PNPIC), of the Unified Health System (SUS).
The Ministry of Health provides a total of 29 integrative medicine procedures, which include acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, hypnotherapy, chromotherapy and homeopathy. However, it is the municipality that decides which ones to offer, so it is important to find out if the acupuncture or treatment you seek is available in your municipality.
The price of an acupuncture session can vary from R $ 40.00 to R $ 250.00 depending on the location of the clinic and the professional. An average of 5 to 10 sessions may be required.
Not directly, but acupuncture can help with the weight loss process. It reduces anxiety and there are professionals who claim that certain acupoints can reduce appetite, effectively decreasing the amount of food eaten, in addition to improving the stress and anxiety that cause “emotional hunger”.
Acupuncture, however, does not work magic and the change in eating habits remains the main way to lose weight.
Any! There are no contraindications for acupuncture. However, some authors recommend caution in people with infectious diseases or clotting disorders.
The practice has no scientific proof that it works for everything that one is willing to treat, but it has been proven to have positive effects on its patients and no negative effects.
The only people who should avoid acupuncture are those who have generalized skin infections, as perforation can facilitate the entry of bacteria, taking them into the bloodstream, which results in serious problems such as blood infections.
Even if you do not believe that it has any efficacy for the treatment, the needles are thin and in most points do not penetrate deep into the skin. Therefore, if the professional who applies the treatment is well qualified and the hygiene of the skin and needles region is well performed, in general, undesirable events do not usually occur.
Can pregnant do acupuncture?
YEAH ! Pregnant women can do acupuncture, as long as the professional avoids the points that affect the pregnancy, such as those that can cause dilation of the cervix and cause uterine contractions, which is even positive if used during labor, to facilitate it.
Like all types of treatment, there are risks related to acupuncture, but most of them are not caused by the practice itself, but by the professional’s failures. That is why it is important to seek someone qualified to practice.
There is a possibility that, after an acupuncture session, mild pain and swelling will settle in the deepest points. They are usually brief, but it is possible to speed up this process with ice or hot water.
The main risks are:
The needle penetrates the skin and, if contaminated, can infect the patient with bacteria, viruses or other microbes. That is why it is extremely important that the needles are disposable, just as it is essential that the professional wash their hands well and clean the region that will be punctured.
Can I stop the acupuncture treatment?
Yes , you can. Acupuncture treatment can be stopped at any time without problems.
Is acupuncture safe for children?
Yes , she is. Acupuncture is safe for anyone, including children and even babies. There is a need for constant supervision of the child during practice, but other than that, nothing prevents a child from using acupuncture as therapy. In addition, in babies and young children, the laser can be used to stimulate the stitches instead of the needles.
How long does it take for acupuncture to take effect?
How fast the effect of acupuncture is depends on many variables, from the number of sessions to the type of disease being treated. Usually the effects start to appear between the first and the fourth session, but this time is variable.
How long does an acupuncture session last?
An acupuncture session usually lasts around 15 minutes, but its time can vary from five to up to 30 minutes. After 30 minutes there are no more benefits and the indicated thing is to end the session.
How many sessions are needed?
Acupuncture sessions may require varying times. This is because each case is different. A different condition requires different treatment times. Chronic diseases, for example, require treatment indefinitely.
The sessions can happen 1 to 3 times a week.
Acupuncture is an ancient treatment of traditional Chinese medicine that seeks to balance the body’s vital energy, circulation, and balance mechanisms, thus bringing benefits to the patient’s health. Share this text with your friends so they can learn a little about acupuncture!