IF there is an ancient medical science which has baffled humanity, it is acupuncture. Literally derived from the twin terms, acus means needle and puncture means puncturing the points.
It is the art of Chinese healing which is proably practised most in the land of its origin. According to historical evidence it was current around 2600 B.C, under the Emperor Huang Ti and formed a part of the Tao Philosophy of the times.
To quote Aldous Huxley, “it was indeed strange that if a needle was stuck in one’s foot, it improved the performance of one’s liver”. Amusingly enough, it was precisely this kind of an accident which prompted man to probe into this phenomenon. For it is recorded that a random arrow shot at one part of a soldier’s body, actually controlled his illness in another affected part. Numerous claims have been made by the Acupuncturists that ailments like Arthritis, Ulcers, Lumbago, Paralysis due to Polio, or Stroke, Bronchial Asthma, Mental retardation, have yielded to an implant of a set of needles in the correct acupuncture points for varying periods of time. According to some physicians Migraine, Spondylo Arthritis, Piles, Hyper acidity, Peptic ulcers, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, smoking, and many other ailments have responded considerably to acupuncture.
It may however be stated that the longer the duration of the disease, the greater would be the time taken to bring about alleviation of the condition. The basic principle revolved around the idea of Yin and Yang, a concept of two dynamically opposite yet harmonising energies in the universe which wax and wane rhythmically in the body. These two concepts could also be symbolic of male and female, of positive and negative source of energy.
The method of diagnosis is often through the pulse. The feel of the 12 main Meridians reflected in the radial artery which act as energy pathways. By reading the pulse correctly any excess or depletion of energy would be reflected in the meridian and the nature of the disease also identified.
According to an ancient Chinese belief certain areas of the skin develop an increased sensitivity as the result of a disease and the impairment of the organ affected. Hence the existence of a series of points could be linked to an organic dysfunction during a specific illness. The number of such points have been estimated to range from 800 to over 1,000, as per different practitioners. The meridians acts as energy pathways through which flowed the energy. Health remained in good shape as long as energy flowed from the acupuncture points in the body. When this balance was disturbed, disease and illness set in.
The actual method of treatment is the insertion of needles of different metals like stainless steel, silver, gold etc, for periods ranging from 10 to 30 minutes at a time. The procedure is entirely painless and is in no way akin to an ordinary injection administered intramuscularly. There is no pain nor any physical or mental reaction thereafter. All normal activity can be resumed except that it is advisable to rest for a while after the session and avoid exposure to the sun for some time. As per the theory, the pricking action of the needles stimulates specific nerves which in turn send electrical impulses to the spinal column, the lower centre of the brain and then to the diseased area concerned. If the disease requires stimulation gold or stainless steel needles are used, and if sedation is needed, silver needles are used.
What has been a feature of still greater bafflement, has been the application of acupuncture in the operation theatre for major surgeries, which should normally be done under total anaesthesia. Doctors in the U.S have witnessed first hand diverse operations ranging from the removal of Ovarian cysts to Thyroid tumors, all in the waking presence of the patients, whose age groups ranged from 25 to 65 yrs, while cheerful conversations were carried on with the surgeons who went about their jobs. It was all ever so comfortable, informal and relaxed. According to modern scientists acupuncture needles activate ‘Encephalin’’, which acts as a natural anaesthetic in surgery.
There are many specialised branches in acupuncture therapy, namely Auricular acupuncture in which, the diseases of any part of the body would be treated by puncturing the set of only auricular or ear points. Cosmetic and Laser acupuncture are the recent developments in the practise of acupuncture therapy. In cosmetic acupuncture, tiny needles called press needles are used and in Laser acupuncture, Laser rays are used along with the needles on the points.
In my own experience as an acupuncturist, various diseases like Bronchial Asthma, alcohol addiction, Spondylo arthritis, hair fall and other stress related problems, have yielded very good results. Specially in the case of alcohol addicts who crave for alcohol, recovered fully without any withdrawal symptoms of addiction after a course of treatment for nearly three months, with a gap of 5 to 7 days per month. Of-course the willingness, co-operation and patience of the patient is of utmost importance, otherwise there will be negative results. Chronic cases like Bronchial Asthma also need longer duration of acupuncture therapy, ranging from 3 to 6 months.
Hence Acupuncture therapy is also known as ‘Drugless therapy’ where no drugs are used and there is no fear of un-toward or dangerous effects, which are commonly associated with modern medicine.