1 Acupuncture is a powerful natural painkiller

There is more medical research about how and why acupuncture so successfully treats pain than any other condition. Numerous studies describe how acupuncture boosts your body’s production of natural painkillers, such as endorphins[1]  that are 200 times more potent than morphine. And many researchers agree acupuncture is just as effective as pharmaceutical drugs for treating pain[2].

2 Traditional acupuncture gives the longest lasting pain relief

Using fMRI scans, researchers have found that when patients have traditional acupuncture the part of the brain associated long-term pain relief is activated[3]. Traditional acupuncturists are trained to use needles to work with your body’s qi (pronounced chee), or vital energy. Other types of acupuncture - when a needle is inserted without affecting qi - do not activate the same area of the brain or achieve the same long lasting results. So to get the best pain relief for sciatica, check that your acupuncturist is fully trained in the complete system of traditional acupuncture.

3 Acupuncture can help regenerate nerves

Exciting new research has shown that acupuncture can help to heal damaged nerves[4]. This is especially helpful for sciatica because one of its causes is damage to the sciatic nerve, which can become irritated by injuries, such a herniated disc in the lower back.

4 Acupuncture helps repair injured muscles

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It starts at the pelvis, in the lower back, and travels through the deep muscles of the buttocks and legs to the feet. If these muscles get inflamed or spasm, they squash or pinch the nerve which results in pain, numbness and tingling. Traditional acupuncture has been shown to help promote faster recovery from injuries[5]  and to reduce muscle inflammation[6]. Which is just what you need to treat sciatica.

5 Traditional acupuncture gets to the root of the problem

When you see a traditional acupuncturist for sciatica, they will ask you to describe in detail the route the pain takes from your lower back down your leg. Traditional acupuncture is a part of Chinese medicine which is based on balancing qi for good health. The way qi moves around the body has been mapped on pathways called meridians. The route your sciatic pain takes tells your traditional acupuncturist which meridians are affected and how to place the needles to help you. They will also take a full medical history to understand how your sciatica relates to your overall health and what caused the pain to start. Traditional acupuncture can help you to relax, improve your sleep, mood and energy levels, as well as relieve sciatic pain[7].  

If you suffer from sciatica, don’t just put up with it. Enter your postcode in the box on the right to find a traditional acupuncturist near you and try acupuncture for yourself.


[1] Acupuncture and endorphins. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15135942
[2] http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/acupuncture-as-effective-as-drugs-in-treating-pain-trial-shows-20140329-35qec.html
[3] Harris, R.E., Zubieta, J.K.,Scott,D.J.,Napadow, V., Graceley, R.H. & Clauw, D.J. (2009). Traditional Chinese acupuncture and placebo (sham) acupuncture are differentiated by their effects on μ‐opioid receptors (MORs). NeuroImage, 47(3), 1077‐1085.
[4] Gh, He, Ruan Jw, Zeng Ys, X. Zhou, Y. Ding, and Zhou Gh. "Improvement in acupoint selection for acupuncture of nerves surrounding the injury site: electro-acupuncture with Governor vessel with local meridian acupoints." Neural Regeneration Research 10, no. 1 (2015): 128. http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1428-acupuncture-regenerates-nerves
[5] Effects of acupuncture stimulation on recovery ability of male elite basketball athletes http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19606508
[6] Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture  http://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2003/807126/abs/
[7] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3170176/How-acupuncture-really-ease-pain-Ancient-Chinese-art-genuine-benefits-reduce-stress-potentially-depression-research-suggests.html

Chinese medical theory did not develop from anatomical considerations, rather, Chinese physicians found that it was more useful for them to develop a systematic understanding of the major organs rather than be concerned with their anatomical structure or arrangement in the body. Although traditional acupuncture does give them approximate locations in the body, as well as having its own meridian or acupuncture channel, and each of the organ functions or, to give them their correct collective name, the Zang-fu, have a specific relationship with qi.

Sciatica can be understood from a traditional acupuncture perspective as a condition in which the trauma that gives rise to the inflammation and pain, causes stagnation of both qi and blood, which in turn arises from an underlying condition of deficiency in the body. The treatment administered will need to address both the trauma and its resulting stagnation, and the underlying deficiency.

The deficiency can be addressed by selecting systematic points to needle, based on the diagnosis discussed earlier, and which will address the general overall imbalances in the qi and any specific imbalances in an organ function's qi. The trauma and stagnation of blood and qi in the area of the inflamed nerve can be addressed by needling local points in the back, especially in the sacral area; and the pain further down the nerve pathway can be treated by needling points along the meridians where they travel down the sides and back of the thigh.


Chen M-R, et al. The warming acupuncture for treatment of Sciatica in 30 cases. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2009; 29(1): 50-53.


Monday, 09 June 2014 00:00

What is Qi

In the many articles and news items which proliferate in the media about acupuncture and Chinese medicine, the word which crops up again and again is qi. This short piece will seek to reveal a little of the nature of qi and how the acupuncturist works with it to provide treatment.

The concept of qi pervades much of Chinese medicine and philosophical thought. The Chinese character for qi has no English word into which it can be translated. The character has 2 parts or radicals, which together convey the picture of vapour rising from a container of boiling rice; so it gives a sense of a vital substance which is an inherent part of something that nourishes and sustains life.

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