Acupuncture Can Help

Acupuncture Ancient ArtAcupuncture has been used for at least three thousand years in China, Japan, Korea, and other Eastern countries. In China today about 40-50% of medical care given is acupuncture treatment. Western medical treatment has spread there and is used in conjunction with traditional medicine.

In this country, most people talk about their medical problems in Western medical terms, i.e. physical symptoms, and what might be the causes. What follows from this, in Western thinking, is what will “fix” it. "Complementary or Alternative Medicine" (CAM) is often used as an adjunct to Western medicine, as patients seek out care on their own, and sometimes when Western medical doctors suggest it. Knowledge that Acupuncture is a helpful and useful treatment has been spreading throughout the United States, especially in the last decade.

Acupuncture and other Oriental Medicine modalities, being based on holistic theories with a basis in the natural world, are not attempting to “fix” physical problems, but to assist patients in balancing qi (“chee”) energy, which then brings healing to body, mind and spirit levels. Thus, a person may come for a physical ailment, like knee pain, only to discover that not only the knee stops hurting, but s/he has increased energy, and other symptoms clear up. As one patient put it, “I didn’t know I would feel so good inside.”

Acupuncture has been used effectively for psychological problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD as well as for physical diseases. Acute problems such as muscle strains and joint pain can be addressed. Chronic illnesses which are not improving with Western medical care may improve with acupuncture, even though the patient has been told, “You’ll just have to live with it.”

Acupuncture pointsAcupuncture is also useful in treating addictions, such as smoking cessation and other recreational drug use, decreasing withdrawal symptoms, jitteriness, and pain. Traditional Five-Element Acupuncture has been especially useful in treating mental, emotional, and spiritual issues, as well as chronic diseases like Fibromyalgia. For more information, see link to Five-Element Acupuncture.

Frequency and length of treatment will vary with different people. Diseases that are of longer duration will probably take longer to heal than those of recent onset. Usually a person will need treatments once or twice a week at first. After five or six treatments, it is possible to see how it is working, and how to proceed..

Usually, as changes start to last most of the week between treatments, the frequency can decrease. Sometime a person will want to spread out treatments from the beginning, usually due to financial concerns. However, this is often false economy, as more frequent treatments can speed recovery.

Finding a Qualified Acupuncturist
It is important to find a well-trained acupuncturist, as this leads to safe and effective treatment. Degrees such as a Masters of Acupuncture (M.Ac.), which involves three+ years (3000+ hours) of post-graduate training, or OMD (Oriental Medical Doctor), a four-year (4000 hours) doctoral program, provide thorough training in theory and practice, diagnosis and treatment. Some MD’s, dentists, and chiropractors also study acupuncture, and use it in their practices. They may have had much briefer training, about six hundred hours or less, and use it in the context of Western medical treatment.

In addition, about 25 states have licensure programs for acupuncturists. Many require certification exams which must be passed after finishing acupuncture school. These are administered through the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). The website is: Each state is different, and laws are changing all the time. It is important to be sure your practitioner meets the state requirements. In North Carolina, the NCALB (North Carolina Acupuncture Licensing Board) has a website where all these concerns are addressed and licensed practitioners are listed:

Acupunture Sylva, NCResearch
Acupuncture has been studied a great deal in China and more recently in the United States and other Western countries as acupuncture treatment has become more widely practiced. Both medical practitioners and consumers want to know in which situations acupuncture treatment is effective.

Several large reviews of research were produced in the late 1990’s by the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (part of the NIH) has worked on updating the information. There is a great deal of information on their websites.

Research has increased greatly in the United States in the ten years since these reviews were published, so these are incomplete lists. There are a number of issues with research methods, which these reviews take into account, and there are now somewhat more appropriate guidelines as Western scientific methods attempt to study Eastern medical practices. Much more detailed information can be found at the following websites.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

The National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Statement:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reviewed many studies, and, in 1997, produced a long and detailed report, “Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials”.

These four lists of diseases or disorders for which acupuncture is or may be effective are taken from the WHO report.

The diseases or disorders for which acupuncture therapy has been tested in controlled clinical trials reported in the recent literature can be classified into four categories as shown below.

1. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved, through controlled trials, to be an effective treatment.
Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
Biliary colic
Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
Dysentery, acute bacillary
Dysmenorrhoea, primary
Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
Hypertension, essential
Hypotension, primary
Induction of labour
Knee pain
Low back pain
Malposition of fetus, correction of
Morning sickness
Nausea and vomiting
Neck pain
Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
Periarthritis of shoulder
Postoperative pain
Renal colic
Rheumatoid arthritis
Tennis elbow

2. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed:

Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
Acne vulgaris
Alcohol dependence and detoxification
Bell’s palsy
Bronchial asthma
Cancer pain
Cardiac neurosis
Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
Competition stress syndrome
Craniocerebral injury, closed
Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
Epidemic haemorrhagic fever
Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)
Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
Female infertility
Facial spasm
Female urethral syndrome
Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
Gastrokinetic disturbance
Gouty arthritis
Hepatitis B virus carrier status
Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
Labour pain
Lactation, deficiency

Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
Ménière disease
Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
Pain due to endoscopic examination
Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein–Leventhal syndrome)
Postextubation in children
Postoperative convalescence
Premenstrual syndrome
Prostatitis, chronic
PruritusRadicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
Raynaud syndrome, primary
Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Retention of urine, traumatic
Sialism, drug-induced
Sjögren syndrome
Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
Spine pain, acute
Stiff neck
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
Tietze syndrome
Tobacco dependence
Tourette syndrome
Ulcerative colitis, chronic
Vascular dementia
Whooping cough (pertussis)

3. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which there are only individual controlled trials reporting some therapeutic effects, but for which acupuncture is worth trying because treatment by conventional and other therapies is difficult:
Choroidopathy, central serous
Colour blindness
Irritable colon syndrome
Neuropathic bladder in spinal cord injury
Pulmonary heart disease, chronic
Small airway obstruction

4. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture may be tried provided the practitioner has special modern medical knowledge and adequate monitoring equipment:
Breathlessness in chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease
Convulsions in infantsa
Coronary heart disease
(angina pectoris)
Diarrhoea in infants and young children
Encephalitis, viral, in children, late stage
Paralysis, progressive bulbar and pseudobulbar

As you can see, acupuncture is definitely or probably effective for a huge list of illnesses and symptoms, and worth trying in a number of others. Some medical symptoms and diseases may not be listed, which means research had not been done up to the time of the 1997 WHO report. It is possible that acupuncture would be helpful. Please call me at 828-226-4032, and we can discuss your situation.

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Healing Body, Mind, and Spirit
Susan Atlas, L.Ac.. M.Ac.. RN. IBCLC
78 Hardrock Road, Sylva NC 28779

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