Is acupuncture a hoax?

There is a lot of debate about the quality of treatment provided by acupuncture and many studies are simply inconclusive. The studies often show a slight increase of symptom relief, which isn’t enough to leave a conclusive answer, but it is enough for today’s medicinal practitioners considering acupuncture treatment alongside ‘regular’ treatment when faced with specific illnesses (National Center for Contemporary and Integrative Health).

The acupuncture persist of pointing fine needles into specific spots on the human body. The treatment originates from China and became an important part of Chinese medicine imagesabout 2000 years ago (Acupunture, Cancer Research UK).


Initially the thought of sticking needles into your skin doesn’t really sound appealing to most people, but still the treatment has become more and more popular. It is now a part of today’s modern medicine and people use acupuncture for a number of reasons.


The use of acupuncture

First and foremost acupuncture can help with physical problems suck as pain and nausea. Acupuncture is often used as a relieving treatment for the sickness and pain one feels when undergoing cancer treatment (Acupunture, Cancer Research UK).

Acupuncture can also help to reduce symptoms such as anxiety, but other than that there is not much evidence to indicate that acupuncture can help in the treatment of psychological diseases.


How does it work?

In ancient China they believed that Qi was a vital force or energy, which flowed through the human body along channels called meridians  Acupuncture could alter this flow to either restore or optimize good health in a person.

Today the modern medicine has a different view on it. Medical research has shown that acupuncture works by stimulating nerves to release different substances that can reduce symptoms such as pain or nausea. Serotonin is an example of these substances, which is a pain reliever and can promote a general feeling of well-being (Acupunture, Cancer Research UK).

imagesThe acupuncture practitioner puts fine, stainless steel and disposable needles in though your skin, where they are left in place for about 10-30 minutes. Depending on the symptoms you are having the number of needles will vary. Often the treatment will only include a few needles, which should not be causing you any pain but might leave a tingling sensation on your skin.


During the treatment the practitioner may gentle flick or turn the needles to stimulate them and in some cases the practitioner can leave a special type of very small needle in the skin to give ongoing symptom relief.

The practitioner will often give the client advise and techniques they can use themselves when they are home.


Types of acupuncture

There are different types of acupuncture and what method the indivual practitioner uses may vary.

Once the needles are in the practitioner can attach a very weak electrical current to the needles. This method is called ‘electro acupuncture’. A similar technique to this is called ‘transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation’, or TENS, which uses electrodes that are taped to the surface of the skin instead of needles being inserted. A great advantage of this method is that it can be used by people, who has a fear of needles or a condition that images-1prohibits them from being needled (Acupuncture today).

Ear acupuncture – also called auricular acupuncture -is when the practitioner puts needles or small beads – called acupressure beads – onto the outer part of the ear. The practitioner may leave them in place for a few days.

Acupuncture seems to only hold a short-term relief and the people using acupuncture is often advised to come back for more treatments, when a few months had passed.


It is highly unlikely that acupuncture will be able to replace any other medical treatments, but there is no reason why treatment from acupuncture shouldn’t be used for people already undergoing another sort of treatment. Acupuncture can result in great pain relief, which can only be beneficial for those people living with extreme pain or – as with cancer patients – experience pain due to the treatment they are currently undergoing.



Acupuncture. Cancer Research UK. Seen Feb.8.2017

Acupuncture today. Seen Feb. 8.2017

Acupunture: In Depth, National Center for Contemporary and Integrative Health. Seen Feb. 8.2017

Vickers. A.J.2014. Acupuncture for chronic pain. JAMA





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