Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles at specific sites on the body. These are called acupuncture points. These points are located along meridians, which run throughout the body. The meridian system connects the internal organs and allows for the flow of Blood and Qi, the body’s vital life force. When an acupuncture needle is inserted into one of these locations, the Qi can be stimulated and manipulated to enhance health and treat disease. There are almost 400 acupuncture points located along the meridians, with over 100 other points located on the ear, scalp and other parts of the body.

Historically, acupuncture was performed using shards of stone and slithers of bamboo. Today, acupuncture is typically performed with the filiform needle, which is solid and made from stainless steel. The width of a standard acupuncture needle varies, with an average gauge of 0.25 mm. In contrast, the typical size of a hypodermic needle, used to draw blood, is approximately 2 mm. The length of the needles range from 13mm up to 100 mm. In Australia, as with many other western countries, the needles are disposable and single use. They usually come in a blister pack and are often individually packaged. When performed by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is not painful, and is relatively safe.

Originating in China, it has become popular in neighbouring countries such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. It has spread to western countries, and is now commonly used in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As of July 2012, all acupuncturists in Australia are required to register with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA). Most major health funds now offer rebates and cover for acupuncture services.

Acupuncture is commonly known for its use in the relief of pain, and for local anaesthesia. It can be useful in the treatment of many other diseases, such as arthritis, headache, hypertension, morning sickness, stroke, and more complex illness’ such as depression. International research and studies have shown that women undergoing IVF can benefit from acupuncture treatments.

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