Acupuncture is thought of as an ancient Chinese practice and rightly so. Laser acupuncture, however, shows the old and new can mesh.
Modern technology is impacting virtually every area of our life and so it is no surprise to learn that it has reached the ancient practice of acupuncture. Laser acupuncture is a relatively new addition to this timeless healing art. A concentrated laser beam can penetrate into the skin for a certain distance without burning or harming the skin. This allows a laser to stimulate certain acupuncture body points. This stimulation is not exactly the same as the stimulation of a needle, but it does trigger reactions in the points.
The practice is still considered to be in an Investigational type of treatment, and in that status no claims of cures are permitted in the United States. The procedure is not being viewed as a replacement for the use of needles in acupuncture treatments. The idea is that the lasers will be used as just one of the tools in the overall regime of treatment offered by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The other tools such as herbal concoctions, acupressure, moxibustion, and advice on lifestyle choices will continue to be applied in a complete treatment package.
Currently, laser acupuncture is limited by the strength of the laser beam itself. The normal range used is between 5 and 500 mW of power. When the level goes over 500, there is a possibility of burning the skin. This power level limits the depth of the beam and therefore its ability to stimulate the acupuncture point.
The process is so new and is being used in a practice that has taken centuries of study and trial and error to perfect. It is not unexpected that much experimentation and clinical studies are being done to attempt to understand the benefits and limitations of laser acupuncture. The beams can also be used only in certain areas. For example, points on the foot can be stimulated except for the points on the heel. The laser can not attain enough depth here to stimulate the point.
Laser acupuncture is a technical change in the practice of acupuncture that will take some time to completely understand. Its use does say something about attitude of professional acupuncturists. While many view acupuncture as a foreign and very culturally different type of activity, the use of lasers shows that it is actually very much like any other body of knowledge. It is constantly seeking to improve. The great body of knowledge that is contained in the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine has always been growing and evolving.