Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice based on the theory that your body has a natural flow of energy or chi. That energy travels along 14 pathways in the body to maintain good health. When the flow of chi is disrupted, pain or disease can occur. Blocking these paths through acupuncture provides relief through the restoration of normal flow. Acupuncture is performed by inserting very fine needles into your skin at specific points. These needles are usually rotated by hand. A mild electric current can be applied to the acupuncture needle. You generally should not feel discomfort related to the needle. Some technicians may apply heat, pressure, friction, suction, or electromagnetic impulses to further stimulate the acupuncture needles.
Acupressure is a technique in which the practitioner uses his/her hands to stimulate certain points on the skin. This procedure also can be self applied without a practitioner. Pressure is applied for 5 minutes at specific pressure points. It unblocks the pathways and restores the normal flow of chi.
Acupuncture and acupressure may cause the body to release hormones called endorphins. Endorphins help relieve pain. They also create a feeling of relaxation. Studies have shown that other hormones like serotonin may also be released by acupuncture.
There are specific acupuncture points used for sinusitis and upper respiratory allergies. However there are no studies showing the effectiveness of acupuncture and acupressure in the treatment of these diseases. One small study found that acupuncture was not useful for severe sinus sufferers. All participants eventually required surgery.
If you are considering acupuncture, choose a practitioner with proper credentials. Acupuncturists receive certification from a number of agencies:
The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture
The American Association of Oriental Medicine
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Some states also issue certification. New Jersey requires certification for acupuncturists through the Acupuncture Examining Board. Pennsylvania requires acupuncturists to register with the State Board of Medicine or State Board of Osteopathic Medicine.