Acupuncture – what is it?

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Acupuncture originates from China from around 100BC to 100AC. It is just one of a host of techniques that encompass Traditional Chinese Medicine, however acupuncture is arguably the most popular technique to have been adopted in the West from this medical system. Other techniques include cupping and moxibustion.

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles at points on the body that have been clinically and in some cases scientifically proven to help the body to heal itself. Much research has been done to understand why this is the case and so far the evidence shows that acupuncture releases pain-killing endorphins in the blood and promotes neurohumoural responses. In short, this means we experience relaxation, reduction in pain and inflammation and improved balance in overall health. Much more research into acupuncture is underway and with time and intense, dedicated research the complexity of acupuncture mechanisms are being unravelled.

Patients should be aware that acupuncture is used to treat most conditions in private practice. It is now recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) for a number of pain syndromes. This means that the evidence is conclusive in some areas and is as yet unsupported by research in others. This leaves other documented clinical evidence at the scrutiny of ongoing trials and lab investigation, a process that takes time and considerable funding. The NHS provides acupuncture treatment according to NICE guidelines and for other conditions that are as yet unacknowledged by NICE, private treatment is readily available by over 3000 registered practitioners under the auspices of The British Acupuncture Council.

Acupuncture is covered by most private insurance groups, including Aviva Health, Pru Health, Simply Health, National Friendly, Groupama and CS Healthcare among others. Check your policy adviser for cover.

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