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					               DISA Health Care                       www.safersex.co.za                           Fact Sheet Number 703


                 CHINESE ACUPUNCTURE        Because acupuncture deals with energy            (cupping). The suction stimulates
WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture is a healing technique          balance, there are not specific                  the flow of energy. If the cups are
used in traditional Chinese medicine.       acupuncture points used to treat HIV.            left on for a long time they can
Very thin needles are used to stimulate     Instead, your acupuncturist will use             leave a red mark.
specific points in the body. These points   your pulses and will probably look at
lie on energy pathways called               your tongue to find out how your energy      Some practitioners use small beads or
“meridians.” Acupuncture treatments         flows are out of balance.                    tiny needles held in place with adhesive
are designed to improve the flow and                                                     to keep pressure on an acupuncture
balance of energy along these               Acupuncture does not cure HIV                point for a few days.
meridians.                                  infection. Many people, however,
                                            believe that it has helped them improve
Traditional Chinese medicine is at least    their overall energy, or deal with the
2,500 years old. It views the human         side effects of antiretroviral medications   WHAT ARE THE RISKS AND
body as a system of energy flows.           (ARVs). Some people have used                SIDE EFFECTS?
When these flows are balanced, the          acupuncture to reduce the upset              Some people feel slight pain, numbness
body is healthy. Practitioners take their   stomach or diarrhea caused by their          or tingling when acupuncture needles
patients’ pulses and examine their          medications. Other people find that it       are inserted. In rare cases, people will
tongue to diagnose energy imbalances.       helps ease the pain caused by                feel dizzy or nauseated during
In Chinese medicine, pulses can be          neuropathy (See Fact Sheet 555 for           acupuncture. There may be a drop of
taken at three positions on each wrist,     more information on neuropathy).             blood when a needle is removed.
and at three depths at each position.                                                    Acupuncture has far fewer side effects
                                                                                         than most western medicines.
Illness is not defined by symptoms or
the name of a disease like “HIV             HOW   IS            ACUPUNCTURE              You should not go for an acupuncture
infection.” Instead, a practitioner of      USED?                                        treatment if you have had any alcoholic
Chinese medicine will talk about energy     Based on your energy imbalances, your        beverage within an hour, or if you are
imbalances. The language can sound          acupuncturist will select acupuncture        using any recreational drugs.
very strange, like “yin deficiency” or      points to stimulate. You will lie on a
“liver heat rising.” The Chinese words      table, either on your stomach or on your     Be sure your acupuncturist knows if you
yin and yang refer to opposing energies     back. Needles will be inserted at the        are pregnant. Some acupuncture points
that should be in balance, and Qi           selected points. You may feel a little       should not be stimulated during
(pronounced “chee”) can be roughly          pain, tingling or numbness as the            pregnancy.
translated as energy or life force.         needles are inserted. The needles are
                                            left in place for up to 30 or 45 minutes,
In traditional Chinese medicine, there      depending on what the acupuncture is
are many ways to improve the balance        intended to accomplish. During that          HOW DO           WE      KNOW        IT
of the body’s energy flows. The most        time, many people fall asleep.
common techniques used in the
                                                                                         WORKS?
western world are exercise techniques                                                    Research on acupuncture shows that it
                                            You might receive additional treatments      is effective in treating some kinds of
such as Qigong or Tai Chi, or               during acupuncture to increase the flow
acupuncture or herbalism. Fact Sheet                                                     pain and nausea. This led the National
                                            of energy:                                   Institutes of Health in 1997 to issue a
704 has more information on Chinese         • The needles might be stimulated
herbalism.                                                                               statement supporting the value of
                                                with a very mild electric current        acupuncture for certain conditions. The
                                                (electroacupuncture)                     World Health Organization lists over 40
Many practitioners of Chinese medicine      • Moxa is soft material prepared from
specialize in either acupuncture or                                                      conditions that may be helped by
                                                dried mugwort, an herb. Moxa may         acupuncture.
herbalism. Very few use both methods.           be put on the top end of
                                                acupuncture needles or (rarely)          A recent study on acupuncture to
                                                right on the skin. Moxa is burned to     relieve the pain of neuropathy did not
                                                provide penetrating heat. This is        show any benefits. However, the study
WHY DO PEOPLE WITH HIV                          called moxibustion.                      design has been criticized for using the
USE ACUPUNCTURE?                            • Round glass cups can be used to            same acupuncture points for everyone
                                                create suction over specific points      in the study, and for using fake
DISA Health Care (011) 787 1222
acupuncture points for comparison.
Many people with neuropathy believe
that acupuncture has helped them.




DISA Health Care (011) 787 1222