Do you know why acupuncture works effectively? ―the fundamental explanation of acupuncture―

These days the number of clinical studies is growing in terms of the acupuncture, and which is catching the public eyes more and more. Thus, the scientific evidence is clearer due to much exacter surveys. On the basis of these findings, this report will explain the list of indications which WHO permits, the differences of Western and Oriental medicine and the differences of the acupuncturist and doctor.

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What is ‘Acupuncture’?

Fundamentally, acupuncture stimulates the sensory nerves that the surface like skin and muscle has, and it is generally believed that it works on certain parts through the central nervous system, such as brain, brain stem and the spinal cord. Firstly, this stimulation operates on various faculties, pain modulator system, autonomic nerve system, internal secretion system and immune system, and then spontaneous healing is more enhanced.


What is ‘Spontaneous healing’?

Spontaneous healing means human originally has the power which cures the diseases without medication. However, the frequency that we get over physical and mental problems with it is lesser because of the development of the Western medicine. Therefore, the risk of easily getting diseases is rising unfortunately. Antibacterial goods, for example, are prevalent nowadays, so our barrier function (immune system) has lost. In fact, we instinctively have diverse functions that protect us from some physical and mental troubles.


Human is, of course, one of the creatures, whereas we have realized the comfortable lifestyle that physical activities, mankind originally has, and wisdom have been integrated for a long time. However, it’s ostensible that with continuously relying on medication, it would be difficult to get over naturally and the effects would wear off. There are a lot of people who desire the safer and more effective alternative medicine, since Western medicine is currently saturated. Then acupuncture which has assumed necessary role in Oriental medicine for more than 5,000 years is catching the public attention again.


The list of the indications of acupuncture by WHO

Recently a indication that WHO admits for acupuncture is much various and there are many researches that are still proceeding. In overseas, certain effects to AIDS and drug addiction is presented.

The indications are as follows:

Nervous Disease

Neuralgia, Neuroparalysis, Spasm, Aftereffects of Stroke, Autonomic Imbalance, Headache, Dizziness, Insomnia, Neurosis, Hysteria


Musculoskeletal Disease

Arthritis, Rheumatism, Cervicobrachial Syndrome, Aftereffects of Cervical Sprain, Frozen Shoulder, Inflammation of the Tendon Sheath, Low Back Pain, Aftereffects of Trauma (Fracture, Bruise, Whiplash, Sprain)


Circulatory Disease

Cardiac Neurosis, Arteriosclerosis, Hypertension/Hypotension, Palpitation, Breathlessness


Respiratory Disease

Bronchitis, Asthma, Cold


Digestive Disease

Gastroenteric Disease (Gastritis, Dyspepsia, Gastroptosis, Hyperacidity, Diarrhea, Constipation), Cholecystitis, Hepatic Dysfunction, Hepatitis, Gastroduodenal Ulcer, Hemorrhoids


Metabolic Endocrine Disease

Basedow’s Disease, Diabetes, Gout, Beriberi, Anemia


Urinary Disease

Cystitis, Urethritis, Sexual Dysfunction, Urinary Retention, Nephritis, Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, Impotence


Gynecologic Disease

Menopausal Discomfort, Mastitis, Leukorrhea, Menstrual Pain, Menstrual Irregularity, Feeling of Cold, Infertility


Otolaryngological Disease

Otitis Media, Tinnitus, Hearing Impairment, Meniere’s Disease, Nosebleed, Empyema, Pharyngitis, Tonsillitis


Ophthalmic Disease

Asthenopia, Pseudomyopia, Conjunctivitis, Eyestrain, Bleariness, Sty


Pediatric Disease

Childhood Neurosis (Crying at night, Convulsion, Night Terror, Dyspepsia, Unbalanced Diet, Insomnia, Lack of Appetite), Childhood Asthma, Allergic Eczema, Parotitis, Nocturnal Enuresis

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The acupuncture’s efficacy to symptoms that a lot of people have like stiff shoulder

There are a number of articles in terms of the effects of acupuncture to stiff shoulder that is a representative example people in this society have suffered from.

As for a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to relieving pain from stiff shoulder, assessment of pain with Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire was conducted for four times (pre, second week, sixth week and ninth week) and quantitatively compared among all periods. According to these findings, a group who took acupuncture presented less painful than others who did not take it; it means acupuncture is effective to stiff shoulder.

Further, another study with meta-analysis reported that a group who took this medicine has more efficacy than control group by placebo. Moreover, acupuncture benefits not only relief of shoulder’s pain, but also stress. The number of the articles regarding acupuncture on database, ‘Cochrane Library’, covering the medical researches is continuously growing.


Why is acupuncture effective?

The reason of acupuncture’s efficacy is β-endorphin. Taking this medicine helps it pervade the body.

β-endorphin works on relieving pain, improving  immunity and feeling comfortable. It also links to the relief of physical burden and stress, the normalization of organs and muscles and the enhancement of metabolism.


The adjustment of autonomic nerve system

Another is that acupuncture is good at adjusting autonomic nerve system. Factually, this system assumes the organs’ function, thus unconsciously the body can work properly with sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve.

As a matter of fact, autonomic nerve works well or badly in accordance with emotion, in other words, it does not work subconsciously. The respiration, digestion and absorption is assumed, hormone is also secreted by it, then human can keep the metabolism correctly. It is the key in order to maintain physical and mental condition.

This is, however, invisible, and to unconsciously accumulate daily stress arises physical and psychological troubles gradually. Besides, the majority of people currently basically spend tired lifestyle, so we don’t have enough time to relax. Although it’s better that we are awake to our condition before deteriorating, we don’t notice some disorders in mind and body until too late.


‘Mibyochi’ means disease is treated before presenting symptom

There’s a word ‘Mibyochi’ in Orient medicine, which means it heals worse condition before getting disease. Acupuncture is one of these ways to maintain human’s body and mind with this concept. After pervading Oriental medicine from China to Japan, it had improved uniquely while Japan restricted to the interaction with foreign countries. When it comes to the original way in Japan, ‘Shinkan’ developed by Waichi Sugiyama is an exemplar to take acupuncture. It contributed to the mitigation of pain which occurs during pricking these, hence they can utilize finer needles. In addition, moxibustion that has warmness is willingly utilized, it also helps patients to relieve the fear and pain of needles.


What is different between acupuncture and Western medicine?

In Western medicine, a doctor, for example, prescribes the certain medicine to symptoms. While, as for acupuncture, the acupuncture point is pricked by needles, or it gives massage to affected part coming from stiffness. Sometimes patients are instructed to improve the lifestyle as long as the need arises.

The main feature of the differences from Western is that it directly approaches the causes of diseases and pain. Another is that it can take longer time to one patient; approximately 40-50 minutes.


What is the crucial difference between a doctor and an acupuncturist?

In clinic and hospital, there’re many staff, such as receptionists, nurses, pharmacists and so on, while only an acupuncturist basically carries out all duties from reservation to after follow. Automatically they have more chances to communicate with patients, so the main difference is ‘time’ which they and patients spend together.

Although acupuncture clinics appear everywhere in Japan, the majority of people don’t know exactly what these clinics are. Fundamentally, these places are for taking acupuncture, what is more that we’re able to take assessment and treatment with sufficient communication.

When it comes to acupuncture, the communication between an acupuncturist and a patient with body contact and verbalization is enough. Through this conversation, it is possible to treat each patient entirely, including illness itself and background. This occupation which gives treatment from the viewpoint of Oriental medicine is one of the nationally accredited certification, and it assumes the important role to support human’s life with doctor’s diagnosis and judgment.


I hope that people keep mind that acupuncture and Oriental medicine help them relieve the pain and problems and maintain their conditions well.

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