Acupuncture has been used in China for some 2,500 years (1)! The oldest, and continuously used medical textbook is called the "Huang Di Nei Jing," or "Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic." In this ancient text, we learn that the key to a long and healthy life is through following the natural ways of the universe. Ill-health and disease are caused by an imbalance of the two basic forces, yin and yang, and the influence of the 5 elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) on our body and organ systems. The forces of this yin and yang manifest through what the Chinese call qi (pronounced "chee"), or life force, and blood. Through acupuncture, we aim to restore balance between yin and yang and influence the 5 elements in such a way that allows our qi and blood to optimally function. To perform acupuncture does not exclusively mean to treat using needles. In fact, modalities such as heat, pressure, cupping, vibration, and electricity can all be implemented to restore yin and yang.
It is beyond doubt that acupuncture is effective from both large and small sized randomized controlled clinical trials (2). In fact, acupuncture's efficacy has been proven to be effective for modalities such as migraines, knee and back pain, chemo-induced nausea, vomiting, hot flashes, and other aches and pains (3, 4, 5, 6). It is postulated that what the ancient Chinese referred to as manipulation of qi and blood through the channels, physiologically translates into activation of the nervous system through mechanical entanglement of local tissue.
Whether viewed through an Eastern or Western perspective, acupuncture has persevered through multiple millennia and continues to be validated both clinically and in current, randomized controlled clinical trials.
1. Lu GD, Needham J. Celestial lancets: a history and rationale of acupuncture and moxibustion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1980.
2. Yang E, et al. Ancient Chinese medicine and mechanistic evidence of acupuncture physiology. Pflugers Archive. 2011 Nov; 462(5): 645-643.
3. Endres HG, et al. Acupuncture for the treatment of chronic headaches. Dtsch Arztebl. 2007;104:A114–A122.
4. Ezzo J, et al. Acupuncture-point stimulation for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. J Clin Oncol. 2005;28:7188–7198. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2005.06.028.
5. Haake M, et al. German acupuncture trials (GERAC) for chronic low back pain. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:1892–1898. doi: 10.1001/archinte.167.17.1892.
6. Walker EM, et al. Acupuncture versus Venlaaxine for the management of vasomotor symptoms in patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28:634–640. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2009.23.5150.