Through its origins, acupuncture has been embedded in the concepts of Traditional Chinise Medicine(TCM). Its general theory is based on the premise that bodily functions are regulated by the flow of an energy-like entity called qi. Acupuncture aims to correct imbalances in the flow of qi by stimulation of anatomical locations on or under the skin called acupuncture points, most of which are connected by channels known as meridians.
Scientific research has not found any physical or biological correlate of qi, meridians and acupuncture points, and some contemporary practitioners needle the body without using a theoretical framework, instead selecting points based on their tenderness to pressure
The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that bodily functions are regulated by an energy called qi which flows through the body; disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease.
Traditional Chinese medicine distinguishes not only one but several different kinds of qi. In a general sense, qi is something that is defined by five "cardinal functions“:
Actuation ( 推動 , tuīdòng) - of all physical processes in the body, especially the circulation of all body fluids such as blood in their vessels. This includes actuation of the functions of the zang-fu organs and meridians.
Warming ( 溫煦 , pinyin: wēnxù ) - the body, especially the limbs.
In a modern acupuncture session, an initial consultation is followed by taking the pulse on both arms, and an inspection of the tongue. Classically, in clinical practice, acupuncture is highly individualized and based on philosophy and intuition, and not on controlled scientific research.In the United States, acupuncture typically lasts from 10 to 60 minutes, with diagnosis and treatment for a single session ranging from $25 to $80 in 2011. Sometimes needles are left in the ear for up to 3 days
Clinical practice varies depending on the country. A comparison of the average number of patients treated per hour found significant differences between China and the United States. Aucpuncture is used to treat various type of pain, neurological problems and stroke rehabilitation.Studies conducted in China and Brazil found that the majority of patients were female, though in one study the majority of Chinese patients using acupuncture for stroke rehabilitation were male.
Acupuncture has been the subject of active scientific research both in regard to its basis and therapeutic effectiveness since the late 20th century, but it remains controversial among medical researchers and clinicians. Research on acupunture points and meridians has not demonstrated their existence or properties.
Positive results from some studies on the efficacy of acupuncture may be as a result of poorly designed studies or publication bias. Edzard Ernst and Simon Singh state that the "more that researchers eliminate bias from their trials, the greater the tendency for results to indicate that acupuncture is little more than a placebo. Also complicating reseach on acupuncture is the possibility of a strong publication bias from certain countries; a review of studies on acupuncture found that trials originating in China, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan were uniformly favourable to acupuncture, as were ten out of 11 studies conducted in Russia.