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Animal Acupuncture

Acupuncture originated in ancient China to treat patients by manipulating thin, solid needles which have been inserted into acupuncture points in the skin. The general theory of acupuncture is based on the idea that bodily functions are regulated by an energy called qi which flows through the body. To fulfill its functions, qi has to steadily flow from the inside of the body to the "superficial" body tissues of the skin, muscles, tendons, bones, and joints. It is assisted in its flow by "channels" referred to as meridians. The meridians are believed to connect to the bodily organs, of which those considered hollow organs (such as the stomach and intestines) were also considered yang while those considered solid (such as the liver and lungs) were considered yin. Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. The goal of acupuncture is to correct imbalances in the flow of qi by stimulation of anatomical locations on or under the skin.

The precise start date of acupuncture's use in China and how it evolved from early times are uncertain. Sharpened stones known as Bian shi have been found in China, which may date to the Neolithic or possibly even earlier in the Stone Age. The earliest example of metal needles was found in a tomb dated to c. 113 BCE, though their use might not necessarily have been acupuncture. The earliest written record of acupuncture is found in the Huangdi Neijing, translated as The Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon, dated approximately 200 BCE.

Current scientific research indicates that traditional forms of acupuncture are more effective than placebos in the relief of certain types of pain and post-operative nausea. The mechanisms underlying pain relief from insertion of needles are unknown, but it has been suggested that it may involve the body's own pain reduction system, possibly attended by an increased release of endorphins, serotonin, norepinephrine, or gamma-aminobutyric acid.

Serious adverse events are exceedingly rare—on the order of five in one million and are usually associated with poorly trained, unlicensed acupuncturists. There is general agreement that acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners using sterile needles.