Similar to reflexology, accupunture operates around the idea that the body has a set of energy meridians, and the complete system must be treated in a wholistic way to achieve balance. Accupuncture involves stimulating points along the meridians to encourage the flow of Qi (or energy force) that can be disrupted by illness which causes blockages and imbalance.
And yes... needles will usually be involved. However, before you start running, accupuncture needles are extemely thin, and in most styles of accupuncture, they're not inserted very deep (think a few milimetres).
Origins: China, from approximately 100BC.
Expect: Visiting an accupuncturist is a little like visiting a GP for a health evaluation, only the methods are vastly different. The main ways accupuncturist assess and treat patients are:
Tongue diagnosis: observing things like patchiness, colour and texture.
Interview: talking to you about your symptoms, bowel movements, sleep etc.
Palpating: taking your pulse before, during and after treatment.
Best for: fertility issues, chronic pain, circulatory disorders, gastrointestinal complaints, stress, insomnia, hormonal issues, kidney stones, chronic fatigue, allergies, anxiety, depression, arthritis or treating addictions. Another little talked about benefit of accupuncure, it is extremely relaxing and wonderful for stress.