Table of contents:


Video: Acupuncture

Video: Acupuncture
Video: What Happens During an Acupuncture Session? 2023, March


The term “acupuncture” is made up of the Latin word acus (= needle) and punctura (= stitch) and means “therapy with needles”. Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Grave finds suggest that this method could have been used as early as 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. Back then stone needles, bamboo splinters and fish bones were used. Acupuncture was first mentioned in Europe in the 17th century. Acupuncture has been recognized in Austria by the Supreme Sanitary Council since 1986 as an "official healing method" for certain indications.


  • Continue reading
  • more on the subject
  • Advice, downloads & tools

What is the background?

As part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture is based on the philosophical concept of the Yin-Yang theory. In TCM, health means a dynamic balance between Yin and Yang. The aim of the acupuncturist is to recognize and compensate for the resulting imbalance.

How does the method work?

After a detailed conventional medical and TCM anamnesis in combination with tongue and pulse diagnosis and, if necessary, further diagnostic methods, acupuncture points are selected that lie on a three-dimensional network, the so-called meridians. According to TCM, life energy ("Qi") flows through the meridians. They run through the whole body as longitudinal lines, but also connect the internal organs with the body surface. By sticking needles, the trained acupuncturist tries to influence the flow of energy in the meridian via the acupuncture point in order to balance Yin and Yang and to create a harmonious balance of body functions.

Sterile single-use needles made of steel are used, which are left in place for 20 to 30 minutes. Alternatively, the acupuncture points can also be treated with lasers, magnets, cupping heads or massage. In addition, a special heat therapy, moxibustion, is sometimes used.

Various physiological models have been proposed to scientifically explain the effects of acupuncture. For many of these models, however, the data were either too inconsistent or insufficient to draw robust conclusions. In various models, effects on cytokines, hormones (e.g. cortisol and oxytocin), biomechanical or electromagnetic effects are described, which influence the immune system as well as the vegetative and somatic nervous system

What areas of application are there?

According to its proponents, acupuncture is used for a wide range of ailments.

Areas of application in which the effectiveness of acupuncture can be assumed to be certain are:

  • Migraine prophylaxis,
  • Pelvic and back pain during pregnancy.

Further indications for which the effectiveness of acupuncture has not yet been confirmed are:

  • Tension headache,
  • Back pain in the lumbar spine,
  • Osteoarthritis,
  • Neck pain,
  • Menstrual problems (dysmenorrhea),
  • Pain management during labor,
  • Chemotherapy-related nausea or vomiting.

What evidence is there?

The WHO recommends the use of acupuncture for 108 indications. Relevant specialist societies also recommend acupuncture for a wide range of applications. The results of an overview study conducted in 2014 with a total of 55 Cochrane Reviews ("Overview of Cochrane Reviews"), however, show that the effectiveness of acupuncture can only be assumed to be certain for two indications. The effectiveness of acupuncture could be given for seven other indications The “Overview of Cochrane Reviews” indicates the ineffectiveness of acupuncture for four indications (epilepsy, irritable bowel syndrome, vomiting and nausea during pregnancy as well as artificial insemination). No statement could be made for 42 indications due to lack of or insufficient evidence.

Note In the field of acupuncture, new studies are constantly being published that deal with a wide variety of clinical pictures and complaints.

Whom can I ask?

In Austria, acupuncture is exclusively reserved for doctors; specially trained midwives are only allowed to do acupuncture in the field of obstetrics.

Four acupuncture training societies are recognized by the Austrian Medical Chamber (ÖÄK): Doctors for Acupuncture, Austrian Society for Acupuncture, Austrian Society for Controlled Acupuncture and TCM and the Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine and Complementary Medicine at Danube University Krems. Each of these societies has a list of therapists who have completed their training with the ÖÄK diploma for acupuncture. Acupuncture is also offered in some pain clinics.

How are the costs going to be covered?

The costs for complementary medical treatments are usually not covered by the health insurance carriers and in a few cases with the approval of the chief physician. In the spa and rehabilitation sector, at least partial cost coverage is provided for individual services. In any case, it is worth checking with the responsible health insurance company.

Popular by topic