Acupuncture, the spearhead of Chinese medicine, has proven its effectiveness, particularly in the treatment of pain. But it has many other indications.

1- What is it?

According to Chinese medicine, man is governed by two complementary but opposite forces, yin and yang, and by the vital energy, qi. If we are sick, it is because there is an imbalance between yin and yang and the qi is not circulating properly.

The main branch of this medicine, acupuncture aims at restoring a harmonious circulation of energy with the help of needles pricked in precise points of the body. There are 366 of these points, located along 12 meridians, which are like energy pathways. “Our body is crisscrossed by a network of energy lines similar to an electronic circuit,” explains Dr. Marie-Laure Trémeau, an acupuncturist in Paris for more than 20 years.

2- Where does it come from?

Acupuncture appeared more than five thousand years ago in China, under the name of zhenjiu (pronounced “tsenn kiu”), which means “needles and fire”. Originally, flints were used on the points, then bones, bamboo and finally needles. It was Jesuit missionaries who introduced it to Europe in the 17th century and gave it the Latin name of acupuncture (acus for “needle” and punctura for “prick”).

The first acupuncture consultation was opened in a Parisian hospital in 1931, but it is especially from the second half of the 20th century that the medical community became interested in it.

Today, this discipline is taught in six medical faculties and validated by an inter-university diploma of acupuncture. In theory, acupuncture is reserved for doctors, midwives and veterinarians, but it is tolerated by non-medical practitioners. Out of 9,000 acupuncturists, approximately 25% are in this situation.

3- How does it work?

Planting needles on the points of passage of the qi acts on the disorders by releasing the energy, if it is blocked, or by strengthening it, if it is insufficient. It is difficult to explain scientifically the action of acupuncture,” says Dr. Marie-Laure Trémeau. I have published a study that shows the real action of acupuncture points compared to the absence of action of skin points taken at random, there is no placebo effect.

An experiment, conducted at the Necker Hospital in Paris in the 1980s, showed that the path taken by a radioactive product injected into different points of the body naturally follows the path of the meridians. Outside of this circuit, the product diffuses little or not at all.

Other studies indicate that the acupuncture points resemble elongated cones containing numerous nerve endings. Stimulated by the needles, these would immediately broadcast a signal to the brain.

4- What does it cure?

Acupuncture treats all functional disorders. Studies have shown that it promotes the production of endorphins in the blood, euphoric substances similar to morphine. Its analgesic action is therefore particularly indicated to treat pain: dental neuralgia, lumbago, sciatica, torticollis, headaches, etc.

40% of patients come to see me for pain,” explains Dr. Denis Colin, an acupuncturist attached to the hospital in Saint-Cloud (Hauts-de-Seine). I get excellent results on 85% of them.

Recently, several meta-analyses (works that synthesize the results of numerous international trials) have shown the superiority, in the short term, of acupuncture over conventional treatments for chronic low back pain, knee pain and elbow pain.

Proof of its effectiveness: it is used in pain centers to calm rebellious pain and cancer-related pain. A study carried out in the “headache” emergency room of the Lariboisière Hospital in Paris also shows that it immediately relieves 100% of chronic sinusitis, neck pain, neuralgia, and 80% of headaches due to muscular tension and post-operative pain.

Acupuncture is also recommended for the treatment of colds, allergic rhinitis, respiratory, dermatological, digestive, circulatory and endocrine problems, and for smoking cessation. It also relieves fatigue. It can be practiced on children from 4 to 5 years old. It is however contraindicated in cases of severe psychosis or inability to stay in place and in patients on anticoagulant medication.

5- How many needles and sessions are needed?

To make a diagnosis, the acupuncturist will interview and examine the patient. He also palpates the pulses. There are six of them on each wrist, which indicate the energetic state of the organs (liver, kidneys, spleen, heart, lungs…).

The number of needles varies according to the condition and the doctor, but on average, 10 to 15 needles are placed. The most used are 2.5 cm long. The needles are single use, so there is no risk of contamination. In general, the needles do not hurt, except on the face and extremities.

Most often, a session lasts twenty minutes, but sometimes the acupuncturist leaves the needles in longer. In theory, a long session is intended to calm; a short one to energize. The patient may feel a temporary fatigue after the session, or even a worsening of these disorders, before improvement. For an acute condition, one or two sessions are sufficient. Acupuncture has an immediate effect,” says Dr. Marie-Laure Trémeau. A lumbago or sciatica can be cured in one session, as long as you consult very quickly.

For a chronic condition, count on a weekly session at the beginning, for two or three weeks, then more spaced out sessions. If the patient is not relieved after three or four sessions, it is useless and dishonest to continue the sessions.

6- What is auriculotherapy?

For auriculotherapy, the shape of the ear evokes that of an inverted fetus, where each part of the body is represented by about thirty main points. To prick in the upper part would make it possible to treat the affections of the lower limbs; conversely, to prick the points of the lobe would relieve the migraines…

This method is recommended against pain, addictions, to treat stress-related illnesses, sleep disorders and certain allergies. It is recognized by the World Health Organization since 1987. 

For the same symptom, the acupuncturist will not necessarily prick the same points, because, unlike Western medicine, which only considers the diseased organ, acupuncture also takes into account the emotions, the psyche and the diet of each patient.

The information provided on our website does not constitute medical advice or a diagnosis. Many factors unknown to us about your particular situation may affect the applicability of any statement or comment made on this site. In the event of illness or disease, you should consult the health care professional(s) who will be able to properly assess your condition.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *