Acupuncture is an ancient form of alternative medicine that involves the insertion of extremely thin, sterile needles through the skin at the various strategic points (acupuncture points) on your body. This traditional therapy is known to clear energy blockages and encourage the normal flow of Qi (energy) through the patient. Besides using fine needles, the practitioner may also stimulate the strategic points using other methods, including cupping, laser therapy, moxibustion, massage, and electrostimulation, in order for the Qi flow to return to normal.
Acupuncture therapy is used to get relief from chronic pain, arthritis, weight loss, anxiety, insomnia, depression, migraine, infertility, nausea, postoperative pain, and obesity.
Health Benefits of Acupuncture Therapy
Reduces Chronic Pain
This is perhaps the most celebrated use of acupuncture treatment on the human body, and as such, it has undergone the most scientific and clinical research to test its validity. Several studies have shown acupuncture therapy to reduce pain up to 25% when used for a variety of different types of acute as well as chronic pain. However, it primarily focused on the chronic back pain that may result from the tightness of muscles, pregnancy, physical stress, poor sleeping habits, old injuries that never fully healed, or other sources. Knee pain is another common problem that causes people to try acupuncture, and although clinical trials sometimes contradict each other, there are a fair amount of positive research results that make acupuncture therapy a legitimate way to decrease knee pain from surgery or the pain associated with osteoarthritis and aging.
Treats Insomnia (sleeplessness)
Studies have shown that acupuncture therapy can reduce the frequency of insomnia in many people. One study indicates that multiple acupuncture sessions increase the secretion of nocturnal melatonin, which is a chemical that helps induce sleep. The study showed that in less than four weeks, regular acupuncture sessions significantly reduced the effects of insomnia in the test study group. So if you cannot sleep, and you do not want to suffer through the potentially complicated side effects of pharmaceutical medicines, talk to an acupuncturist!
Recent scientific studies and clinical trials have shown a positive correlation between reduction of anxiety and acupuncture. In addition, when acupuncture therapy was added to a pharmaceutical regimen for the treatment of stress and anxiety, and the medication dose was reduced, the results were better than when acupuncture was not involved. On top of that, the harmful side effects of anti-anxiety medications can be very intense; including mood swings, nausea, and depression, so any dose reduction without a return of anxiety should be considered a wise choice!
It is stated that in certain cases acupuncture therapy has been shown to enhance reproductive medical techniques, including IVF (in vitro fertilization). Acupuncture may also stimulate blood circulation and egg production in young women. Women who get acupuncture treatments – whether to increase the chances of a successful IVF or to treat the conditions that interfere with getting pregnant (such as polycystic ovary syndrome) — have a higher rate of pregnancy and child births. It is noted that some fertility physicians recommend acupuncture therapy for their patients to help lower stress hormones because stress can decrease fertility hormones like progesterone.
The traditional acupuncture theory is that the outer ear (pinna of the ear) represents the entire body, so stimulating key points with needles around it will stimulate the metabolism and reduce appetite. Several studies have shown that when acupuncture therapy is combined with traditional methods of weight loss such as dieting, exercise, etc., patients lose more weight. Generally, one to three acupuncture weight loss sessions can be useful in helping people achieve reasonable weight loss goals.