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Mechanistic Basis of Acupuncture

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Acupuncture is one of the oldest complementary and alternative therapies and one of the most commonly used medical procedures in the world. It originated in China more than 3,000 years ago. It is commonly practiced as a routine treatment in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Since the 1970s, its popularity has spread worldwide (Ernst “desktop guide”). The procedures in acupuncture involve stimulation of anatomical points called ‘acupuncture points’ on the body with thin needles by a variety of techniques which range from manipulation by hands to electrical stimulation. Acupuncture is effective for relieving dental pain, chronic pain in joints (osteoarthritis), chronic back pain, and recurrent headache. It&nbsp.reduces nausea and vomiting after surgical procedures and chemotherapy. Cancer patients on chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, who develop intolerable pain and nausea, may get relief from acupuncture. It also reduces nausea associated with pregnancy (Kaptchuk 374-383). The puzzle that is hunting the researchers is that how an unmedicated needle, inserted at a site remote from its desired application can produce desired results. A point on the lower leg produces desired effects on the gastric function and a point on the hand cures headache. It is not fully known as to what is the mechanism of action behind these effects. Various theories have been put forward by researchers.
The term acupuncture is used to describe a variety of treatments that differ in many important aspects, both theoretical and technical and hence there is difficulty in drawing the conclusion from existing literature (Langevin 167-75).
According to this theory, both wellness and illness result from an imbalance of yin and yang. ‘Yin’ refers to the feminine aspect of life. It is nourishing, lower, cool, deficient, inside, receptive, protective, soft and yielding. ‘Yang’ refers to the masculine aspect of life.