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Acupuncture is an ancient system of medical treatment that is based on the principle of applying small needles to specific points (acupoints) on the surface of the body, which penetrate the skin, to open the flow of qi (pronounced “chee”) in the body. (1)

Acupuncture translates to “needle penetration.” The origins of this treatment system are grounded in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

According to acupuncture and TCM theory, health stems from the alignment of qi which means "vital energy" and encompasses the yin/yang balance that flows through all of the physical worlds. Balancing the qi restores the interconnectedness of the body, thus restoring wellness. (2, 3)


Qi is arranged into meridians or channels throughout the body that allow the flow of qi.

Acupuncture is a nonpharmacological treatment option that is highly versatile since it can be applied in multiple different diseases and symptoms.

Acupuncture has reported benefits in the treatment of the following:

  • acute and chronic pain

  • headaches and migraines

  • nausea and vomiting

  • allergies

  • hot flashes

  • anxiety and depression

  • other mood disorders

  • insomnia

  • breathing difficulties

  • dyspepsia

  • discontinuing tobacco use and other substance abuse (1, 4)

Acupuncture is mainly safe with low risk of side effects/complications. Local side effects (small bruising or slight pain/discomfort) can occur, but they typically resolve reasonably quickly after removing the acupuncture needles or soon after the needles have been inserted.

Given the overall positive patient response, low side effect risk, and little to no cost on the healthcare system, acupuncture is an essential alternative treatment modality, practiced by many healthcare practitioners across the world. (5)

  1. Acupuncture. [Updated 2021 Jul 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-.

  2. J Altern Complement Med. 2019 Mar;25(3):288-295.

  3. Curr Med Sci. 2018 Dec;38(6):1109-1116. 

  4. JAMA. 2005 May 04;293(17):2118-25.

  5. Am J Med. 2001 Apr 15;110(6):481-5.

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