Chinese acupuncture (.zhenjiu) has received enthusiastic reviews from its many satisfied patients. It is of genuine therapeutic value in the treatment of chronic back pain, migraine headaches, arthritis and other ailments.
Acupuncture is a technique employing needles which are inserted into various points of the body. In former times, needles were probably made from bamboo, gold, silver, copper or tin. These days, only stainless steel needles of hair-like thinness are used, causing very little pain when inserted. Dirty acupuncture needles can spread disease rather than cure, so good acupuncturists sterilize their needles or use disposable ones. As many as 2000 points for needle insertion have been identified, but only about 150 are commonly used.
One of the most amazing demonstrations of acupuncture’s power is that major surgery can be performed using acupuncture alone as the anesthetic. The acupuncture needle is inserted into the patient and a small electric current is passed through the needle. The current is supplied by an ordinary torch battery.
The exact mechanism by which acupuncture works is not fully understood by modern medical science. The Chinese have their own theories. Needles are inserted into various points of the body, each point believed by the acupuncturist to correspond to a particular organ, joint, gland or other part of the body. These points are believed to be connected to the particular area being treated by an energy channel, also translated as a ‘meridian’, but more likely it has something to do with the nerves. It seems the needle can block pain transmission along the meridian. No matter how it works, many report satisfactory results.
Acupuncture is practiced in hospitals of traditional Chinese medicine, which can be found all over China. Some hospitals in major cities like Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai also train westerners in the technique. And if you need some emergency acupuncture, even hotels (upmarket ones, at least) provide such services at their in-house clinics.
If you are (justifiably) concerned about catching diseases from contaminated acupuncture needles, you might consider buying your own before undergoing treatment. Good-quality needles are available in major cities in China. Needles come in a bewildering variety of them; if you decide to receive acupuncture treatment, just let your favorite doctor determine what are the appropriate ones to buy.