Acupuncture is a traditional method of healing and forms part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is said to have been used as far back as 6000 years ago.
Special needles are inserted into the skin of the patient at various ‘acupoints’. How this produces a therapeutic effect depends on your point of view. TCM theory suggests acupuncture serves to restore the flow of qi (vital energy) along meridians (channels) that form a network in the body much like the nervous and cardiovascular systems. This then serves to treat symptoms and allows the body to heal itself. From a Western scientific standpoint, A flurry of research into acupuncture began in the 1970s with various theories for how it works being put forward. These include painkilling action through the promotion of endorphin release and the modulation of various physiological functions through stimulating the release of neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline, acetylcholine and cyclic AMP.
Acupuncture has become very popular over the past few decades and is often practiced by traditionally trained Western doctors. When acupuncture is practiced in isolation from the other components of TCM like this it is known as 'medical acupuncture.'
Acupuncture is used for a wide variety of ailments but seems to be particularly effective in the treatment of chronic pain conditions including but not limited to migraine headaches, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.