Acupuncture gaining ground in Namibia

By By Jemima Beukes
October 2011
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Acupuncture, a treatment procedure which is an integral part of oriental medicine, has been accepted in Namibia as more people prefer it over conventional Western medical treatment for certain types of diseases.

It is administered by delicately pushing special alloy needles into identified special points on the human body to treat diseases.

This ancient oriental procedure is fast becoming a preferred treatment for afflictions to the bone structure or nervous system like arthritis, strokes, migraines and protrusion of lumbar vertebrae disc.

Although acupuncture originated from China and Japan where it is popular, the movement of doctors and people across the ”global village” has spread it across the world.

The Chinese Acupuncture Clinic at the Katutura State Hospital in Windhoek treats between 40 to 50 patients a day, the majority of whom are elderly and middle aged.

According to Dr. Zhu Cai Yin, a Chinese doctor practising in Namibia, acupuncture is very effective in treating nervous system diseases, and can provide mild relief over a longer period to respiratory ailments such as flu or bronchitis.

“Acupuncture is very effective, but when treating flu and respiratory illnesses, we might need to use it in combination with western medicine, because acupuncture will take too long and patients will become impatient,” he said.

He added that accupuncture and Moxibustion originated about 3000 years ago, before the Ching Dynasty in China, and must be administered by trained and qualified people.

Dr Yin says it takes an average of five years of training for one to master the concepts of acupuncture before one can treat patients skillfully and then gain experience through practise.

Moxibustion is a treatment that involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing as well as to promote the acupuncture treatment.

This method is, however, increasingly being replaced by the use of the Thermal Design Power (TDP) lamps. The lamps emit infrared rays which heat the area around the needles in order to speed up acupuncture treatment.

Dr. Yin said cupping is another treatment procedure used together with acupuncture. This is done by putting glass cups over the acupuncture needles to give a mild suction force to relieve pain and blockages in the body.

Dr Yin added that there are no risks of infections or inflamation during acupuncture treatment and despite the suction of the cupping which leaves temporary marks on the skin and the slight prick mark of the needle, acupuncture is a very safe and neat treatment procedure.

He said the brief pain experienced when needles are inserted into the body is nothing compared to the relaxing feeling induced by the needles, adding that some patients fall asleep while undergoing acupuncture treatment because of the soothing sensation.

On the other hand, Dr Yin said cupping does not induce any pain and is mainly administered to alleviate conditions like rheumatic diseases, hypertension, common colds and flu,insomnia, fever, constipation and diarrhoea.

Libet Alcock, a 49-year-old qualified nurse who is a regular to the clinic, believes that most illnesses come from the soul and must therefore be treated from the root.

“I believe most ailments orginate from childhood and the spiritual traumas you experienced. It is, therefore, important to treat it from where the real blockages are. I told my family it will really be struggle to get me away from this place, because I will come here for every ailment,” she said.

Some people who experienced acupunture have become adherents to the procedure such that they have almost lost all faith in western medication in preference of this mystic oriental treatment and often end up going for the procedure even for just the slightest pain or cramp.

Karin Brüggen, another regular to the Chinese Acupunture Clinic says, “ It is a million times better than the ordinary painkillers. Painkillers have side effects on the liver and kidneys and you can never get used to it. The healing mechanism of our body is stimulated by the acupunture treatment which speeds up healing.”

Brüggen, who could hardly use her right arm for several months after she experienced a severe whiplash, was referred to the Katutura State Hospital Acupuncture clinic by a friend.

“After I started with this treatment I regained 85% use of my arm, I must say it has increased the quality of my life significantly,” Bruggen said.

She further claimed that the treatment is very relaxing and ‘absolutely heavenly’ and that she would do it every day if she could.

Prospective patients must make an appointment with the doctor for a medical check-up which is done to determine the medical problem. After the initial check-up the patient pays a fee of N$ 30.00 to get 10 sessions of treatment.

This will enable them to undergo a 10-session treatment programme.

Patients are treated three times a week over a period of three weeks except for more acute illnesses like strokes whose treatment is administered every day of the week.

Most homeopaths in Namibia practice acupuncture because of the natural aspect of the treatment.