Just to add to Webster 1913
Acupuncture is an ancient technique that involves the insertion of hair thin needles into specific points on the body to prevent or treat illness. It has been practiced for over 2500 years in China and is part of a holistic system of traditional Chinese medicine that views health as a constantly changing flow of energy or "qi",(pronounced chee). In traditional Chinese medicine, imbalances in this natural flow are thought to result in disease. Acupuncture aims to restore health by improving this flow.
One might ask, "How does this work?". Well........
According to the principles of tradional Chinese medicine, qi flows through the body via 14 primary meridians or channels. Here's a listing of them:
The Lung Meridian
The Large Intestine
The Small Intestine
The Urinary Bladder
The Triple Heater (I need more info on this)
The Gall Bladder
The DU or Back Midline
The REN or Front midline
To strengthen the flow of qi or to remove blockages, the acupunturist inserts a number of tiny, sterile, flexible needles just under the skin at certain specific points (acupoints) along the meridians. There are thousands of acupoints along the meridians which are associated woth specific internal organs or organ systems.
For example, if your suffering from nausea, needles might be inserted on your wrist. If your suffering from vision problems, needles might be inserted in your foot. The most popular points of insertion during acupunture are the ear, scalp, and hand.
The needles may feel uncomfortable but they rarely hurt. Once the needles are inserted (usually one to 15 are used), the acupunturist may twist them or send a weak electrical current through them to increase the energy flow. They are left in from anywhere between 15 to 40 minutes depending on the type of ailment being treated.
In Asia, acupuncture has been used to treats scores of illnesses and ailments. In the United Sates, acupuncture has been primarily used to relieve chronic pain from arthritis, headaches, PMS and back pain. Its also been used to assist withdrawal from alcohol and drug addiction and is sometimes used as an analgesic to reduce pain during surgery.