A recently concluded translated Chinese soap opera running on Rwanda TV’s late night slot, whose heroine is a young multi-talented court lady who ruffles the traditional royal powerhouses with her exceptional medical skills, had been keeping many on the edge of their seats.
More so, was the skin-tingling method of treating ailments by sticking needles into specific points on the body.
Acupuncture is a technique of inserting and manipulating needles into specific points on the body with the aim of relieving pain and for therapeutic purposes.
It is an ancient Chinese health practice that involves puncturing the skin with hair-thin needles at particular locations, called acupuncture points, on the patient’s body to restore the body’s life energy and balance and bring about healing and health.
According to Holac Hospital website, in China, acupuncture is at least 2,000 years old. In recent years acupuncture has spread to various parts of the world including Africa, as treatment for various ailments.
The ancient Chinese thought that energy circulated in the body via meridians. The balance and transmission of energy in the body is dynamic.
A change in this balance resulted in a destabilisation in the physiology of the body. Through the doctrine of Yin and Yang, (everything is an amalgam of opposites) Yang was associated with activity, fire, the sunny side of a hill or the male principle and Yin was associated with physical substance, water, the dark side of the hill or the female principle.
If one was out of balance, in the energetic sense, the principle of treatment would be to re-establish that balance.
In 1972 when President Nixon visited China, James Reston, who was covering the Presidential trip for The New York Times, was stricken with appendicitis, and operated on by Chinese doctors using conventional Western methods.
In the postoperative period he developed severe pains, which the doctors relieved by using acupuncture.
Also during a visit to China in 1978, cardiologist Doctor Isadore Rosenfeld claims to have witnessed open-heart surgery on a patient, anaesthetised only with acupuncture!
“She remained wide awake and smiling throughout the operation even though the only anesthesia administered was an acupuncture needle placed in her ear.”
Acupuncture has gained popularity tremendously over the last decade and is now recognised and used in many clinics and sports facilities as an alternative form of medication.
According to Traditional Acupuncture Treatment for Whiplash Syndrome, a research paper, acupuncture has been used increasingly in the west as a tool for pain relief for a variety of syndromes, and its effectiveness is no longer questioned.
Kathy Addison (M.Ac) says that acupuncture can be quite successful in eliminating or reducing the symptoms affiliated with many disorders. Some of the most common are: headaches, digestive disorders, back and neck pain, fibromyalgia, muscle and joint injuries, mental depression and insomnia.
In 2006, a research published in The Lancet Neurology reported that 960 migraine patients responded to acupuncture and conventional drug therapy more significantly than they did to sham therapy.
In Africa, the Pan-African acupuncture project has been working to train Uganda medical workers to relieve symptoms of HIV/Aids.
A Boston Globe report says that even if the native workers do not understand the philosophies behind why the needles relieve chronic insomnia and diarrhea (two symptoms frequently associated with the disease), the alternative healing techniques can still be effective.
The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) research found that acupuncture can actually aid the conception process. During treatment, patients commonly experience heaviness in the limbs or a pleasant feeling of relaxation.
Its benefits include more than just relief from a particular condition. Many people find that it can also lead to increased energy levels, as well as better appetite and sleep, and an enhanced sense of overall wellbeing.
The fact that acupuncture does not obey the fundamentals of western medicine has been a cause for alarm in the west, especially considering that acupuncture’s Yin and Yang theory which completely rewrites the geography of the body does not make much scientific sense in the conventional biology except in a few cases (e.g. homeostasis).
However the benefits of acupuncture have passed various clinical trials for different ailments, although not in the full sense as the Chinese claim or have proved acupuncture to go.