Acupuncture is a technique of inserting and manipulating fine filiform needles into specific points on the body with the aim of relieving pain and for therapeutic purposes.
According to the theory on which this practice there is a sort of vital energy, named “qi”, that flows through the body in certain meridian lines. Needles are inserted into points on these meridians in an attempt to influence the flow of qi.
Acupuncture is thought to have originated in China but was adopted in several Asian cultures.
The effects of acupuncture are not well understood by Western medicine and it remains quite controversial in mainstream medical circles.
Most clinical evidence suggests that it is effective for some but not all conditions.
It is generally regarded as safe provided it is administered by a properly trained practitioner under hygienic conditions.
Acupuncture is well known for its use in pain relief but has also been shown to help diminish the symptoms of withdrawal for patients in a detoxification (detox) program.
This was a serendipitous discovery by a Chinese neurosurgeon in 1970 who was using acupuncture as an anaesthetic when his patient reported sudden relief from opiate withdrawal.
Acupuncture is said to relieve a number of physical symptoms. It is claimed that it can ease stress and tension.
Clinical trials have shown that it is able to treat certain symptoms but is not a panacea.
Other studies suggest that it is effective in reducing pain but does not address the underlying causes as pain reoccurs fairly quickly after treatment finishes.
Within the context of a drug addiction program in a drug rehab in South Africa acupuncture would be viewed as an adjunctive therapy and not a replacement for a medical detoxification (detox).
Drug rehab can be a stressful time for anybody and acupuncture could certainly help to relax and soothe patients.
Western medicine currently views acupuncture as being worth further investigation and inclusion into conventional medicine.
Whether it will be incorporated in main stream drug rehab in South Africa remains to be seen.