Acupuncture is an ancient system of healing that predates recorded history. According to the history of acupuncture, acupuncture practice began during the Stone Age when sharp-edged tools and stones were used to puncture and drain abscesses.
Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in which thin needles are inserted into the body.. There is a range of acupuncture variants which originated in different philosophies,and techniques vary depending on the country in which it is performed. It is most often used to attempt pain relief, though acupuncturists say that it can also be used for a wide range of other conditions. Acupuncture is generally used in combination with other forms of treatment.
In traditional acupuncture, the acupuncturist decides which points are to be treated by observing and questioning the patient to make a diagnosis according to the tradition used.
In TCM, The four diagnostic methods are:
- Auscultation and olfaction
- Inspection focuses on the face and particularly on the tongue, including analysis of the tongue size, shape, tension, colour and coating, and the absence or presence of teeth marks around the edge.
- Auscultation and olfaction involve listening for particular sounds such as wheezing, and observing body odour.
- Inquiring involves focusing on the “seven inquiries”: chills and fever; perspiration; appetite, thirst and taste; defecation and urination; pain; sleep; and menses and leukorrhea.
- Palpation is focusing on feeling the body for tender “A-shi” points and feeling the pulse.
Acupressure, a non-invasive form of bodywork, uses physical pressure applied to acupressure points by the hand or elbow, or with various devices.
Acupuncture is often accompanied by moxibustion, the burning of cone-shaped preparations of moxa (made from dried mugwort) on or near the skin, often but not always near or on an acupuncture point. Traditionally, acupuncture was used to treat acute conditions while moxibustion was used for chronic diseases. Moxibustion could be direct (the cone was placed directly on the skin and allowed to burn the skin, producing a blister and eventually a scar), or indirect (either a cone of moxa was placed on a slice of garlic, ginger or other vegetable, or a cylinder of moxa was held above the skin, close enough to either warm or burn it).
Cupping therapy is an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing. Tui na is a TCM method of attempting to stimulate the flow of qi by various bare-handed techniques that do not involve needles
- Electroacupuncture is a form of acupuncture in which acupuncture needles are attached to a device that generates continuous and sustained electric pulses
- Fire needle acupuncture also known as fire needling is a technique which involves quickly inserting a flame-heated needle into areas on the body.
- Sonopuncture is a stimulation of the body similar to acupuncture using sound instead of needles. This may be done using purpose-built transducers to direct a narrow ultrasound beam to a depth of 6–8 centimetres at acupuncture meridian points on the body. Alternatively, tuning forks or other sound emitting devices are used.
- Acupuncture point injection is the injection of various substances (such as drugs, vitamins or herbal extracts) into Acupoints. This technique combines traditional acupuncture with injection of what is often an effective dose of an approved pharmaceutical drug, and proponents claim that it may be more effective than either treatment alone, especially for the treatment of some kinds of chronic pain.
- Auriculotherapy, commonly known as ear acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, or auricular acupuncture, is considered to date back to ancient China. It involves inserting needles to stimulate points on the outer ear. The modern approach was developed in France during the early 1950s.
- Scalp acupuncture, developed in Japan, is based on reflexological considerations regarding the scalp.
- Hand acupuncture, developed in Korea, centers around assumed reflex zones of the hand. Medical acupuncture attempts to integrate reflexological concepts, the trigger point model, and anatomical insights (such as dermatome distribution) into acupuncture practice, and emphasizes a more formulaic approach to acupuncture point location.
- Cosmetic acupuncture is the use of acupuncture in an attempt to reduce wrinkles on the face.
- Bee venom acupuncture is a treatment approach of injecting purified, diluted bee venom into Acupoints.
- Veterinary acupuncture is the use of acupuncture on domesticated animals. Rigorous evidence for complementary and alternative techniques is lacking in veterinary medicine but evidence has been growing.