What is Medical Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a very old Chinese medical art. It is a technique of inserting and manipulating fine needles into specific points on the body with the aim of relieving pain and for therapeutic purpose. There are many approaches to learning and practicing it. Medical acupuncture is the term used to describe acupuncture performed by a doctor trained and licensed in Western medicine that has also had through training in acupuncture as a specialty practice. Such a doctor or health professional may use one or the other approach, or a combination of both, to treat a dysfunction or illness.

How Medical acupuncture Evolved

Study of traditional Chinese Medicine takes lot of time. That is the reason Medical acupuncture was created for western practitioners who wants to use the techniques of acupuncture along with other medical approach. Medical acupuncture was created for medical doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths. The person when learn about acupuncture is known as acupuncturists. The term alternative medicine is usually used in the modern western world encompasses any healing practice that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine. Acupuncture is considered to be one of such alternative medical technique. Medical acupuncture is an attempt by evidence-based medicine to understand the effects of acupuncture from a western, scientific perspective rather than within the paradigm of Chinese traditional medicine.

How Medical acupuncture different from Classical acupuncture

Medical acupuncture is a contemporary form of acupuncture that was developed by Medical Doctors in the western world. In medical acupuncture the traditional theory of points and meridians is either ignored altogether or is radically reinterpreted because there is supposedly no physically verifiable anatomical or histological basis for the existence of acupuncture points or meridians. Also in case of medical acupuncture the concepts of disease are derived from modern western pathology instead of Chinese medical theory which predates use of the scientific method. Lastly the medical acupuncture is understood to work via the western biomedical understanding.

World Health Organization (W.H.O.) recommendation

Following are the conditions for which Acupuncture is recommended by W.H.O.

  • Respiratory Diseases such as acute sinusitis, acute rhinitis, common cold, acute tonsillitis.
  • Bronchopulmonary Diseases such as acute bronchitis, bronchial asthma.
  • Eye Disorders such as acute conjunctivitis, cataract (without complications), myopia, central retinitis.
  • Disorders of the mouth cavity such as toothache, pain after tooth extraction, gingivitis, pharyngitis.
  • Orthopedic Disorders such as periathritis humeroscapularis, tennis elbow, sciatica, low back pain, rheumatoid arthristis.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders such as spasm of the esophagus and cardia, hiccups, gastrophosis, acute and chronic gastritis, gastric hyperacidity, chronic duodenal ulcer, acute and cronic colitis, acute bacterial dysentery, diarrhea, paralytic ileus.
  • Neurological Disorders such as headache, migraine, trigeminal   neuralgia , facial paralysis, paralysis after apoplectic fit, peripheral neuropathy, paralysis caused by poliomyelitis, meniere’s syndrome, neurogenic bladder dysfunction, nocturnal enuresis, intercostal  neuralgia .
  • Modern explanation

    There are two attempts at western medical explanation about the mechanism of acupuncture.

  • The gate theory of pain by Patrick Wall and Robert Melzack which postulates the existence of gates or filters in the spinal cord that can modulate transmission of pain information within the nervous system.
  • The second explanation is based on the existence of natural opiatus in the central nervous system and elsewhere in the body. It is the pain relieving substances such as endorphins and enkephalins.