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On pins and needles

Acupuncture experts warn that though there are side effects of acupuncture treatment, it is very important to go to a qualified and experienced practitioner, writes Jaya Shroff. What acupuncture can cure?

health and fitness Updated: Jun 29, 2008 02:49 IST
Jaya Shroff

For almost 15 years, Archana Bohidar had been suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (irregular bowels), dysentery, constipation and diarrhoea. It made her feel low on energy and irritable.

Soon, she also started suffering from sleep disorders. She began to lose hair. “I tried out allopathy, homeopathy and ayurveda, but nothing helped. I also tried bottled water, home cooked food, and a low-calorie diet but to no avail,” says Archana.

A non-smoker, teetotaler and a vegetarian, she finally turned to an acupuncturist, who identified her ailment. “When we screened her on Acujing — a computer-aided machine which tests energy imbalance in the body— we realised that she suffered from severe energy flow problems. All her physical problems were inter-linked,” says Dr Raman Kapoor, head, centre for acupuncture at Sir Gangaram Hospital. “She was caught in a vicious cycle of multiple disorders and their real cause was actually lethargy. Her intestinal villi, which absorb food, were not responding, hence no amount of vitamin intake was showing any effect,” he adds.

When put on the Acujing, the patient is made to hold a probe in one hand and another probe is used to check the acupuncture points on the body, to record the energy flows through the 12 acupuncture channels in either side of the body.

“When we check these channels, we are actually checking the energy flow in each internal organs. All the organs have relating points on hands or feet,” says Kapoor.

Upon Archana’s examination, it was found that all her energy levels were below 20 on a scale of 100. There was severe energy deficiency in all her energy channels. So, the doctor administered general tonification treatment to build up the energy levels using needles. Acupuncture needles are metallic, solid, and hair-thin.

Experts say people experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pain when the needles are inserted. Some people feel energised by treatment, while others feel relaxed. A repeat test showed that her energy levels had considerably improved and she was more alert and less drowsy.

Experts say the therapy is no magic — it requires consistent sittings and patience and sometimes the treatment may take several years, but in most cases it provides relief after 5-10 sittings. Acupuncture is quite effective in the treatment of several diseases such as vision problems, namely, optic nerve atrophy, retinal degeneration or severe skin allergies like eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis, where traditional forms of medicines do not have a permanent cure.

Agrees Dr Surinder Chadha, a Delhi- based allopathic-turned-acupuncture practitioner, “Despite having practiced allopathic for over 20 years, I can say that acupuncture provides solutions to several severe ailments. I have seen miraculous improvement in patients of leprosy and severe paralysis.” He has been providing acupuncture treatment to patients at the Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. “I have treated patients who were discarded by families after all treatments failed. Not only have some of them recovered, but there are some cases where patients are back to work,” says Dr Chadha.

Acupuncture experts warn that though there are side effects of acupuncture treatment, it is very important to go to a qualified and experienced practitioner. Improper needle placement, movement of the patient, or a defect in the needle can cause soreness and pain during the treatment.