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Alternative Medicine


Acupuncture is a form of therapy developed by the ancient Chinese and subsequently refined by Chinese practitioners. It consists of inserting needles through the skin in very specific places to alleviate pain, cure disease, or provide anesthesia for surgery. Acupuncture as a palliative is accepted among the medical community. Its use as a cure for serious disease or for anesthesia is not endorsed by many physicians.

For the practitioner of acupuncture, the human body is a collection of thousands of acupuncture points that lie along specific lines or meridians. Twelve pairs of meridians are plotted on the body, one of each pair on each side. An additional meridian, the Conception Vessel, courses along the midline of the front of the body and another, the Governor Vessel, along the spine. The meridians are connected by extrameridians. Additional acupuncture points lie outside the meridians on areas such as the ear lobes, fingers, toes, and so forth.

Each meridian is a course for the perceived flow of energy through the body and that flow may be connected to an organ removed from the actual location of the meridian. Needles are inserted at points along the meridian that are specific for a given organ. For example, although the liver lies in the right side of the abdomen, the acupuncture points for liver disease may include areas on the opposite side of the body as well as one of the earlobes.

Acupuncture therapy consists of first locating the source of pain, then deciding upon the appropriate meridian and acupuncture points. Needles used in acupuncture may be short, for use in less-fleshy areas, or long for use in areas with copious flesh or muscle. The needle is simply inserted into the proper acupuncture point and rotated. The needles are left in place for a given time and rotated periodically while they are in place. Some patients find dramatic relief from pain with acupuncture and a number of physicians have incorporated the procedure into their practices.

In the Far East, acupuncture is a recognized form of therapy, and it is combined with herbal medicine, diet restrictions, and exercise. Not only is it used for pain relief, but it is also used frequently as anesthesia during surgery and for the treatment of serious diseases such as cancer. No scientific proof has been offered that it is effective against serious diseases, though its anesthetic and analgesic properties have been demonstrated.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Adrenoceptor (adrenoreceptor; adrenergic receptor) to AmbientAlternative Medicine - Naturopathy, Lifestyle Changes, Relaxation, Chiropractic Medicine, Acupuncture, Homeopathy