Why Acupuncture May Be Right For (Nearly) Everyone
Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine used most commonly for pain relief, though studies have shown that acupuncture is effective for a variety of conditions.
How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. A key component of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain. Increasingly, it is being used for overall wellness, including stress management.
Acupuncture is part of the ancient practice of Traditional Chinese medicine.
Practitioners believe the human body has more than 2,000 acupuncture points connected by pathways or meridians. These pathways create an energy flow (Qi, pronounced “chee”) through the body that is responsible for overall health. Disruption of the energy flow can cause disease. By applying acupuncture to certain points, it is thought to improve the flow of Qi, thereby improving health.
In contrast, many Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. Some believe that this stimulation boosts your body's natural painkillers.
Researchers don't fully understand how acupuncture might work, but some theories include:
- Acupuncture may stimulate the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain-relieving chemicals.
- Acupuncture may influence the autonomic nervous system, and needle placement may impact breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate.
How Acupuncture is Done
Prior to getting acupuncture, your acupuncturist will ask about your health history and may give you a physical examination.
During the acupuncture session, thin needles are placed in specific areas to address your concern or condition. The acupuncturist may gently twist the needles for added effect. The needles are often left in for 15 to 20 minutes, with the total session lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
Your acupuncturist may use additional techniques during your session including:
- Moxibustion: This involves the use of heated sticks, made from dried herbs, held near the acupuncture needles to warm and stimulate the acupuncture points.
- Electroacupuncture: An electrical device is connected to several needles, providing a weak electrical current that stimulates the acupuncture needles during the treatment.
- Cupping: Glass or silicone cups are applied to the skin so that there is a suction effect, which aims to help stimulate blood flow and balance your energy.
After the treatment, some people may feel relaxed, while others may feel energetic.
Benefits of Acupuncture
If you're considering acupuncture for the first time, here are some of the health benefits you may enjoy if you receive an acupuncture treatment:
1. Reduced Stress
One of the primary reasons people seek acupuncture treatment is to reduce their stress levels. Restoring energy balance and triggering nervous system responses is a key factor in lowering the body’s stress reaction. According to Healthline, research has found that acupuncture lowers stress hormone levels and improves mood to help reduce feelings of anxiety and increase feelings of happiness.
Whether chronic stress, real-life worries, or imbalanced hormonal causes are behind your fluctuating mood and possible depression, acupuncture can offer significant relief. During and after the application of acupuncture needles, your central nervous system becomes stimulated and releases endorphins and other chemicals that lift your mood. The process helps you to think more positively and support your body to fight off the damaging effects of the state of prolonged anxiety.
2. Reduced Back and Joint Pain
Pain relief is one of the top benefits of acupuncture. The technique can reduce tension in the back and neck and alleviate pain in the joints. This is a drug-free way to address common pain complaints. It can also reduce inflammation in these affected areas.
3. Headache Relief
The careful and exact placement of acupuncture needles near specific nerves have a wonderful pain-reductive effect. The endorphins released also support the feeling of the total loss of discomfort, leading to a breakthrough in your headaches and recurring migraines.
4. Enhanced Mental Clarity
Brain fog occurs when stress and other concerns rob an individual of mental clarity, making it difficult to think well. Acupuncture treatment can enhance mental clarity and reduce the risk of problems with brain fog.
5. Reduce Symptoms of Neurological Disorders
Neurological disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, can have a huge impact on a patient’s life. Acupuncture is an alternative medicine option to help treat these diseases. Clinical studies have shown improvement in language and motor function of patients with many neurological diseases and conditions who seek acupuncture treatment.
6. Improved Digestive Health
By supporting the healthy functioning of the digestive system and its organs, as well as the rebalancing of the potentially faulty energetic fields, acupuncture can treat virtually all problems of the digestive system. Whether it be acute gastrointestinal problems, or severe manifestations of long-term ongoing issues that have not been addressed properly, such as gallstones, Crohn's Disease, or inflammatory bowel disease, acupuncture can help.
7. Increased Energy
Whether you are in need of a physical or mental energy boost to combat fatigue, acupuncture can offer tremendous benefits in fighting off exhaustion or brain fog. By thoroughly balancing the body's energetic field, an optimal set-point can be reached and all organs can function correctly. As a result, you can experience a state of ease that allows for better quality of rest and becoming pain-free. Stimulating the appropriate neural pathways leads to increased physical stamina and capacity for clear and productive thinking.
8. Improved Sleep Quality
Acupuncture increases your body's natural ability to produce more melatonin. This hormone — when present in optimal amounts — regulates your sleep- wake cycles. Today, largely thanks to our modern lifestyle and poor sleep habits, it is often underproduced, leading to insomnia, frequent awakenings at night, or being exhausted all the time. If this is ongoing for a prolonged time, it is a breeding ground for other future health problems. Acupuncture will help restore your natural ability to fall — and remain — asleep easily, once again.
9. Allergy Reduction
Regular acupuncture sessions are very capable of fighting seasonal and other common types of allergies. Boosting our bodies' natural immunity and self-healing abilities, allergens are less likely to wreak havoc, and the frequency of attacks can be greatly diminished, as well. Acupuncture also treats the symptoms of allergies, such as a runny nose, puffy eyes, or scratchy throat, very effectively.
10. Controlling Blood Pressure
Rising blood pressure levels are a problem in modern society, especially with high-stress jobs and overall obesity levels on the rise. Regular acupuncture treatment combined with medical treatment for the cardiovascular system can help reduce blood pressure levels. The practice helps support proper heart function and blood flow, and at times it is more effective than medication at controlling blood pressure.
Acupuncture is Recognized as an Effective Treatment
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for more than 43 conditions under nine major health categories, including, but not limited to:
- Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Allergies and respiratory problems like asthma
- Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia
- Tennis elbow, sprains, and injury related pain
- Hypertension and hypotension
- Knee, low back, and neck pain, as well as sciatica
- Headache and migraine
- Nausea, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and morning sickness
- Postoperative pain, facial pain, and dental pain
Acupuncture is making waves in the world of complementary and alternative health care, and for good reason. Many patients experience incredible results when they see a professional acupuncturist and receive the appropriate treatments.
So, what does acupuncture do for your body? Acupuncture stimulates the body’s healing processes, making it a valuable component of an integrative health care plan.
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