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Acupuncture and Pain Control


Acupuncture is an ancient system of healing developed over thousands of years as part of the traditional medicine of China, Japan and other Eastern countries. Acupuncture's origins lie in China and date back to over 5,000 years ago; today there are over 3,000,000 practitioners worldwide. The majority of these 3,000,000 practitioners practice in the East; however, during the last half of the 20th century the number of persons studying acupuncture in the West has been steadily growing.
The practice of acupuncture began with the discovery that the stimulation of specific areas on the skin affects the functioning of certain organs of the body.

It has evolved into a system of medicine that restores and maintains health by the insertion of fine needles into acupuncture points just beneath the body surface. These points are in very specific locations and lie on channels of energy.

Moxibustion, the warming of acupuncture points through the use of smoldering herbs, is often used as a supplement and the needles may also be stimulated using a small electric current.

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture Diagram


Acupuncture needle insertion

Acupuncture needle being inserted on the hand of the patient at point LI3: SAN JIAN

Indications: Ophthalmalgia, lower toothache, sore throat, trigeminal neuralgia, redness and swelling of fingers and back of hand.

It is based on the belief that health is determined by a balanced flow of Qi, also referred to as "Chi." Qi is circulated through the blood stream via fourteen energy ducts called meridians. Each one of these pathways or channels through which Qi flows is linked to an internal organ system. There are over 1,000 acupoints within the meridian system that can be stimulated to enhance the flow of Qi. Acupuncture diagnoses illness by seeking blockages in the body's meridians.

Special needles are inserted into the acupoints, which are located just beneath the epidermis. In theory, inserting these needles helps correct the flow of energy within the body and thus relieves pain and restores health.

When placed on the face, acupuncture points promote sinus drainage and open up nasal passages. Most patients of acupuncture will need several sessions, which cost about $75 to $100 per session. Acupuncture practitioners work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and private offices. Acupuncture needles are usually inserted to a depth of about a quarter of an inch into the skin. The therapist gently twists or twirls them for up to 10 minutes, leaving them in five to 20 minutes longer; or stimulates them with a weak electrical current; or heats them with a burning herb such as mugwort (see moxibustion).
Mini-feature: Auriculotherapy (Ear Acupuncture):

While the earliest use of ear acupuncture dates back to ancient China, auriculotherapy did not develop until the 1950's in France when Paul Nogier,M.D., discovered that the placement of tiny pins on the external part of the ear, specifically the auricle, could stimulate the immune system to restore health to the many parts of the body (not just the ear). These needles have the effect of rebalancing the flow of energy and affecting acupuncture points everywhere on the body. Shortly thereafter, he devised a list of thirty auricular points that could neurologically affect different layers of skin tissue. He captivated the Chinese peoples' intellect so much so that he was proclaimed the "father of modern ear acupuncture" in China.

Acupuncture reflex points on the ear are often stimulated electrically, or by lasers, magnets, or acupressure (ear massage). The ear is a very suitable location for acupuncture needles to be placed because of its strong connection to the central nervous system and because several meridians run right through the ear.

Auriculotherapy is popular in drug treatment/rehabilitation programs because it helps patients deal with the problem of withdrawal. It is used in methadone programs, and to help drug addicts (especially cocaine addicts), alcoholics, and cigarette smokers break the habit. Its main benefits, however, are its abilities to alleviate pain and to cure dyslexia.

Although ear acupuncture has blossomed in China and Japan, it has been slow to catch on in the U.S.A. Virtually every week new research studies are being made public in Asia, solidifying Dr. Nogier's findings and adding more information to the discipline. Yet, despite the growing popularity of Acupuncture in America, auriculotherapy has failed to gain notoriety. Perhaps the declaration by the World Health Organization in 1989 that auriculotherapy is a viable medical therapy will help gain followers in North America.

Common cures:
  • Migraine and other headaches
  • Trigeminal neuralgia and other face pains
  • Bell's palsy (face paralysis)
  • Anxiety
  • depression
  • fears
  • claustrophobia
  • Meniere's disorder
  • Post herpetic (Shingles)
  • Neuralgia
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Travel sickness
  • Tiredness
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Paralysis of leg or arm persisting after a stroke (cerebral thrombosis)


  • Neck and low back pains
  • Whipla
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Tennis elbow
  • Painful joints of rheumatoid
  • arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis of knees, or hips or other joints
  • Heel spurs
  • Acute sports injuries
  • Wound healing


  • Pain after operations
  • Painful prominent scars


  • Menstruation pains
  • Other pelvic pains
  • Flushes especially menopausal
  • Painful nodular breasts
  • Endometriosis Preparation for childbirth
  • Irregular or excessive menstruation


  • Wrinkles or bagginess of face
  • Acne
  • Psoriasis
  • Boils
  • Eczema
  • Various other skin disorders
  • Aching varicose veins
  • Cramps
  • Restless legs
  • Intermittent claudication (pain on walking)
  • Hemorrhoids


  • Hay fever
  • Rhinitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Asthma


  • Cystitis (especially in the elderly)
  • Early prostate enlargement
  • Non-specific urethritis
  • Bedwetting


  • Bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Recurring tonsillitis
  • Mouth ulcers


  • Colitis or other bowel inflammations
  • Stomach ulcers


  • Persisting weakness after a severe illness
  • smoking
  • Tired eyes
  • Pterygium Retinitis
  • pigmentosa
  • High blood pressure
  • tinnitus
  • palpitations
  • excessive perspiration
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • vaginal pain
  • itch
  • obesity
  • impotence
  • infertility (especially after an illness)



Herbs are used in the acupuncture technique known as moxibustion.

Modern medicine's perspective:

Here in the West, acupuncture has been misleadingly publicized as being helpful in only specific conditions, such as the relief of pain. It is, in fact extremely effective in a wide variety of conditions through its power to stimulate the mind's and body's own healing response.

Recently western medicine has become less skeptical of the benefits of this ancient Chinese holistic therapy in recent years. More and more doctors are acknowledging its effectiveness in treating a variety of chronic conditions (see Common Cures), despite their lack of knowledge about how it actually works.

Case Studies:

#1: This acupuncture case history occurred about 20 years ago at the University of Shanghai. A 28-year-old woman was preparing for open-heart surfery when she was placed on the operating table, wide awake and smiling. The woman's only "anesthetic," as the surgeon proceeded to open her chest, was an open acupuncture needle in her right earlobe that was connected to an electrical source. The woman never flinched. There was no mask on her face, no intravenous needle in her arm. This account proves the effectiveness of acupuncture in pain relief.

Links & Resources:
Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide; Compiled by the Burton Goldberg Group; Future Medicine Publishing, Inc.; Puyallup, Washington; copyright 1994.

i Journal. "Interactive Acupuncture Chart" Internet. 1998. (Jun. 1998). Once you find the acupoint you want on the virtual body, click on it, and it's location, indication, and name are displayed. <>

Acupuncture College 2230 Fifth Avenue San Diego, CA 92101 (619) 231-0161 Home Page

Newsday's PARADE Magazine; Sunday, August 16, 1998; article entitled "Acupuncture Goes Mainstream (Almost)," by Isadore Rosenfeld, M.D.


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