In a few weeks I will be attending the annual symposium of one of the national professional acupuncture groups I belong to. I belong to several organizations because there are always new developments emerging, even though this method of treatment is as ancient as any.
This group will be meeting in St. Louis and will feature a very prominent and well respected Japanese acupuncture lecturer and practitioner Kiiko Matsumoto.
Acupuncture was introduced to Japan from China roughly fifteen centuries ago. However, Japanese acupuncture has since developed in some particularly unique ways that differentiate it from the Chinese approach.
In particular, Japanese acupuncture uses finer, thinner needles that are generally inserted to more shallow depths and is a much gentler approach compared to Chinese methods. That is why I prefer certain aspects of the Japanese approach in my own practice.
Japanese needles are so fine and the treatment is so delicate that the patient rarely feels anything other than my hands as I palpate for proper insertion points.
Many people are surprised to learn that Japanese and Chinese styles of acupuncture are so divergent. They are also surprised to learn that there are innovative styles that have originated in Korea, Vietnam and other Asian countries as well as in Germany and France.
As I began to study acupuncture several decades ago I was surprised to learn how popular acupuncture is in Germany, France, Great Britain and other European countries.
One of the first texts I read about acupuncture was written in the 1970's by a medical doctor in Great Britain, Dr. Felix Mann. I now use his latest text in the classes I teach.
Another early text that I found very useful was written by a German medical doctor named Gabriel Stux. Dr. Stux has produced several excellent books that illustrate the scientific research being done in Germany and other countries on the effects of acupuncture. This type of research has brought this ancient method of healing into the modern age of physiological understanding.
One of the more interesting statements in Dr. Stux's most recent book, Basics of Acupuncture 5th edition, illustrates that acupuncture is much more accepted and widely practiced in Europe than in the United States.
Stux states: "In a recent study of German pain clinics, it was found that 90% of the physicians use acupuncture."
Think about that for a minute. Has your physician ever mentioned acupuncture?
Whereas in Germany, one of the most advanced scientific nations in the world, according to Dr. Stux 90% of physicians in this study use acupuncture in the treatment of patients in pain, it is still very seldom used by physicians in the United States.
Recently, however, more medical physicians are beginning to learn more about acupuncture's potential and take it more seriously. The facts that acupuncture can often bring about results when other methods such as medication have failed and that acupuncture is virtually free of side effects is being noticed.
In this month's edition of The Hospitalist, a journal for hospital based physicians, John C. Charles, MD, FACP, assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Arizona wrote: "This threefold increase since 1998 demonstrates the growing use of and demand for acupuncture services in hospitals. This trend is driven by patient demand and clinical effectiveness. Acupuncture is a safe treatment modality hospital physicians should be familiar because it can benefit patients in the inpatient setting."
In my office we are fortunate to have regular referrals from local physicians because many local doctors know me personally or know me by reputation. Many are physicians have learned about the value of acupuncture in addressing sub-acute and chronic pain as well as dysfunction.
This growing popularity of acupuncture among physicians is echoed in the increasing use of acupuncture among patients. Patients are seeking acupuncture on their own in growing numbers. Patients that come to our office seeking acupuncture cite the fact that there are no side effects and the expected effectiveness of acupuncture as their reasons for making this choice.
Acupuncture is used to treat a wide range of conditions. The World Health Organization has published a list of more than 40 conditions that are treatable using acupuncture, including most painful conditions, neuralgia and other nerve disorders, sleep disorders, hormonal and metabolic disorders and others.