Acupuncture, a Chinese traditional medicine, originally dating from 2000 BC, involves stimulating specific points in the body for therapeutic purpose. Puncturing the skin with a needle is the usual method of application, but acupuncturists may also use heat, pressure, friction, suction, or impulses of electricity to stimulate acupuncture points. Stimulating acupuncture points alters the flow of energy in body. Acupuncture is used for many ailments, including chronic pain, drug addiction, arthritis, nausea and mental illness.
Acupuncture needles dating from 4,000 years ago have been found in China. The first needle were stone, later, bronze, gold, or silver was used, and today’s needles are usually made of steel. Initially, needles were used to prick boils and ulcer. Acupuncture was developed in response to the popular theory that there are special meridian points on the body concerning to the internal organs, and that vital energy flows along the meridian lines. According to this theory, diseases are caused by interrupted energy flow, and inserting and twirling needles restored normal flow.
The primary use of acupuncture in China today is for surgical anesthesia. Chinese surgeons estimate that 30 percent of surgical patients obtain adequate anesthesia through acupuncture alone, which is now performed by sending an electrical current through the needles rather than by twirling them. American physicians who have observed surgery performed while the patient is under acupuncture have verified its effectiveness in some patients, but put the figure closer to 10 percent. Brain surgery is especially amenable to this form of anesthesia. Some Chinese surgeons claim that acupuncture is superior to western, drug-included anesthesia in that it does not disturb normal body physiology and therefore does not make the patient vulnerable to shock.