What is acupuncture and what is it for

Acupuncture is an ancient therapy of Chinese origin, which consists of the application of very fine needles, in specific points of the body, to improve immunity and to treat emotional problems and physical diseases such as sinusitis, asthma, migraine and arthritis.

Acupuncture techniques are based on the idea that the body is made up of energy, accumulated in various regions, which are called meridians. If the flow of energy in these meridians is unbalanced, it causes inflammation in the body, causing symptoms such as pain, tiredness and weakness.

Therefore, the goal of acupuncture treatment is to restore the body’s balance, facilitating the circulation of energy, triggering analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. However, this type of treatment must be performed by trained professionals and under the guidance of a doctor.

What is it for

Acupuncture uses several techniques that can be used to strengthen the immune system and to treat problems and diseases such as:

  • Mouth problems:  pain after tooth extraction, gingivitis or pharyngitis;
  • Respiratory diseases:  sinusitis, rhinitis, common cold, asthma or bronchitis;
  • Ophthalmic diseases:  conjunctivitis and cataracts;
  • Neurological problems: headache or migraine;
  • Gastrointestinal problems:  excess acidity in the stomach, duodenal ulcer and constipation;
  • Orthopedic problems:  sciatica, low back pain or rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Sleep disorders: insomnia and restlessness.

In addition to these problems, acupuncture can also be used as a complementary treatment for allergies, such as rhinitis and asthma, nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy and emotional disorders such as anxiety, stress and depression, for example. See more about  other benefits of acupuncture .

Types of acupuncture

There are several techniques that define the types of acupuncture and that are indicated by an acupuncturist in partnership with a doctor, depending on a person’s illness or health problem. The most popular types of acupuncture can be:

1. Atrial acupuncture

Auricular acupuncture, also known as auriculotherapy, can be used to treat physical or emotional illnesses and can be performed with or without needles. This technique consists of applying different types of fine needles, or mustard seeds, to specific points on the ears.

The benefits of this type of acupuncture are scientifically proven and are highly recommended for the treatment of back pain, as already in the first sessions it is possible to verify the reduction in pain intensity. Check out what auriculotherapy is for and how it is done .

2. Aesthetic acupuncture

Acupuncture for aesthetic purposes is used to improve the elasticity of the skin, stimulating the production of collagen, and also helps in the recovery of muscles and the growth of support cells, fighting wrinkles and even localized fat.

This type of acupuncture is performed by applying small needles to the head, face and neck. And yet, the results of aesthetic acupuncture are more natural than Botox procedures, but take longer to work.

3. Acupuncture to lose weight

In Chinese medicine, it is believed that overweight and obesity causes an imbalance in the body, causing problems in the liver, spleen, kidneys, thyroid and hormonal changes. Therefore, acupuncture can be indicated to lose weight, as it increases metabolism and reduces appetite through the application of needles in strategic points of the body.

Acupuncture can also stimulate the body’s energy flow and change the levels of hormones that make you hungry, helping with weight loss. However, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and make dietary restrictions, as in combination with acupuncture, weight loss can be more effective.

4. Electroacupuncture

Electroacupuncture is used to relieve chronic pain caused by spinal problems and fibromyalgia, for example, and helps improve sleep by releasing substances linked to well-being by the brain. In this type of acupuncture, a device is used that has fine needles attached to electrodes that emit small electrical impulses through the body.

In addition to improving pain, electroacupuncture promotes relaxation, reducing stress and anxiety, and it can be performed by physiotherapy professionals and trained acupuncturists, so it is important to seek certified locations for this type of treatment.

How it is done

Conventional acupuncture involves the use of very thin, disposable needles with varying lengths and widths, for application to different points of the skin, based on the symptoms, diseases and health problems presented by a person.

Acupuncture sessions are done by an acupuncturist, who can be a doctor, physiotherapist or occupational therapist and does not need anesthesia, because the needles are extremely thin and the application is done with precise techniques.

Generally, the person is lying on a stretcher for 20 to 40 minutes depending on the type of acupuncture and the indication of the treatment and at the end of the applications, the place where the needles were inserted is not painful.

Where are the acupuncture points

The acupuncture points, better known as meridians, are the exact places that fine needles or laser must be applied for the energy flow to be released and the reduction of symptoms such as pain, for example, occurs. According to traditional Chinese medicine there are 12 meridians that are related to various organs such as lung, spleen, intestine, bladder and gallbladder.

The feet have several meridians, so it is very common that when performing acupuncture this region is stimulated with needles, however, the ear is the place where more applications are made because acupuncture in this region is usually linked to pain relief . See more where other acupuncture points are .

Who can do it

Anyone can do acupuncture, even in cases where the person has no illness or complaint, as this technique can be used only to improve well-being. It can also be done in children with health problems like pain caused by sickle cell anemia, hyperactivity and stress, and the most applied technique in these cases is laser or electroacupuncture.

Acupuncture can also be used by pregnant women, as it helps to reduce the effects of hormonal variations during pregnancy and also helps in relieving back pain and discomfort caused by the weight of the belly.

What are the risks

Acupuncture is a very safe technique and, generally, does not generate health risks or cause side effects, however, it must be performed by a qualified professional and in certified clinics that follow ANVISA standards. The needles used in acupuncture must be disposable, as their reuse increases the chances of contracting diseases, such as hepatitis, for example.

People who use blood-thinning medications should ask their doctor before performing acupuncture, as the application of needles can cause bleeding. In addition, if a person experiences severe pain, swelling, bleeding, and bruising at the needle application site, it is necessary to consult a general practitioner to assess these signs and indicate a more appropriate treatment.

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