Acupuncture - A Natural Therapy For You!
Acupuncture, a therapy that has been in practice for 2500 years now, has gained mainstream acceptance as an alternative medicine therapy. It's rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine and holds high-esteem among the Chinese because of its unconventional capabilities. As a medical modality, it's believed to have the power to cure a perennial disease's pain – arthritis.
Acupuncture is based on the theory of 'qi' (pronounced as chee). This refers to the vital life energy that controls bodily functions and flows through 12 principal meridians, also known as 'pathways of the body.' When the flow of this energy or qi in one's body is blocked, the body experiences pain. However, patients have mixed theories regarding why acupuncture helps cure arthritis.
Theory #1 - Acupuncture Relieves Pain
Patients who are experiencing chronic arthritis pain report that they feel the pain goes away instantly after the first session of acupuncture. This observation is not just surprising but also thought-provoking as to the mechanism behind this cure that works so effectively. This fact is even unknown to the researchers yet.
The only satisfactory explanations have been given by scientific studies that conclude that as acupuncture needles are inserted into the body, many physiological mechanisms occur that cause a decrease in the pain. Scientists have suggested that the needles set off a cascade of events traveling into the body from the spinal cord to the brain and releasing endorphins that are believed to reduce pain sensations. Furthermore, according to traditional Chinese medicine literature, this therapy can cure almost every pain in the body.
Theory #2 - Acupuncture Needles
Chinese believe that certain acupoints in the body intensify the pain during a bout of chronic arthritis. When acupuncture needles are inserted into these acupoints appropriately, this is said to bring the flow of imbalanced energy back. This is how acupuncture works its magic. Most studies suggest that acupuncture works for a variety of conditions.
Theory #3 - Acupuncture for Back Pain
Back pain is one of the foremost reasons why people seek medical treatment at some point in their life. Approximately 8 out of every ten people suffer from persistent back pain, and research suggests that acupuncture is one of the most effective tools for treating lower back pain.By placing the needles in the same acupoints that trigger it, lower back pain can be mitigated after even Twenty-two studies on acupuncture have found short-term relief from lower back pain, and 'sham acupuncture' works just as well.
Research implies that "real" acupuncture rewires the brain to produce long-term improvement in carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, while "sham" acupuncture can produce temporary results by tapping into the placebo circuitry in the brain.
Acupuncture for back pain involves inserting really thin needles to different depths into strategic points on your body. Scientific studies have proven that sham acupuncture works just as good as real acupuncture for back pain. The most interesting point observed though, is that in several studies both sham acupuncture and real acupuncture relieve low back pain much better than a patient having no treatment at all.
The research on acupuncture for back pain is growing, but interpreting it is still difficult at times. For the time being, most studies seem to show that, for most people, acupuncture results in some kind of beneficial effects. However, this is only found to be true when the treatment is carried out by a properly trained practitioner.
Theory #4 - Acupuncture for Menstrual Pain
Around 95 percent of women have experienced pain due to having their period. Some studies have shown that period pain can be reduced by up to 50 percent with simple use of acupuncture treatment.
It was found that the women who got treated with acupuncture more frequently experienced the most outstanding improvements in period pain intensity and related symptoms, as well as in general quality of life. Unlike painkillers it does not just treat the symptoms as they appear, but has an effect to minimize period pain for future cycles.
A lot of women experience mood swings during their menstrual cycle, but a high percentage of women experience significant feelings of depression, anxiety and irritability. Some symptoms associated with PMS include:
- Fatigue / Sleep Disturbance
- Weight gain / Weight loss
These symptoms happen as part of a whole body pattern. Your acupuncturist will not only focus on your mood, but also aim to reduce physical and mental symptoms as part of the same treatment procedure..
Even though the cause of PMS is unknown, we do know that it is influenced by fluctuations of hormones in the brain. Acupuncture can alter the brain’s mood chemistry, reducing serotonin levels and increasing endorphins, which can help to manage negative emotional states.
Theory #5 - Acupuncture for Depression
Depression, or major depressive disorder, is an illness that involves a continuous and persistent feeling of sadness and a loss of interest or pleasure. Some other symptoms could be but are not limited to:
- Sleeping too much or not sleeping enough
- Reduced energy levels
- Suicidal thoughts
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Mood swings such as irritability, anger and sadness
Depression is usually treated with medication, therapy or both if prescribed by a psychiatrist. However, some of those with depression do not improve with medication or therapy. Many people (15% to 50%) will also have depression again even if they are undergoing treatment. Quite a few people with depression are now giving alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, a try in hopes of finally seeing positive changes in their mental health.
After an 8-week acupuncture study of 151 men and women, researchers came to a conclusion that depressive symptoms improved significantly. Depression severity was found to be decreasing so those who received acupuncture, whether targeted or nonspecific, improved more than those who did not.
Another study has shown that acupuncture has very similar effects to the antidepressant drug called fluoxetine in those with post-stroke depression.
Theory #6 - Acupuncture for Allergies
An allergy is an excessive reaction by the immune system to a substance that is usually harmless. This substance is called an "allergen". The most common allergens are pollen, ragweed, dust, mites, pet hair, and certain chemical products. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), acupuncture is a simple, effective, safe, economical and scientifically proven method of treatment that has been practiced for centuries for many diseases.
Acupuncture is increasingly being used alongside drugs like antihistamines to fight allergies. Acupuncture shows excellent results in combination with medication and also as a substitute for them.
The initial idea of acupuncture for the treatment of allergies is to unblock the condition in the meridians in order to re-flow energy through them. This means that acupuncture expels antibodies that lead to the allergy from the mucous membranes. Acupuncture is not harmful and has no negative side effects, so it is an exceptional choice in the fight against allergies.
Theory #7 - Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain all over the body (also referred to as widespread pain), trouble sleeping, fatigue, and often emotional and mental damage. People who have fibromyalgia could be more sensitive to pain than people without fibromyalgia.
Most studies show that acupuncture may have a beneficial role in easing the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia can be tough to treat, and a combination of treatments might be necessary to control your symptoms. If you are having trouble finding relief for your fibromyalgia pain, it could be worthwhile trying out acupuncture. However, if your symptoms do not start to improve within 6 to 8 weeks, acupuncture may not be the perfect treatment for you.
A study published by the Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows that acupuncture can relieve fatigue and anxiety in patients with fibromyalgia for up to seven months after their treatment. This means that not only is acupuncture effective in treating fibromyalgia but it is also more cost effective than the drugs you would probably have to buy on a weekly or monthly basis. One treatment by acupuncture provides you with more security than the more frequent use of drugs as a solution.
Theory #8 - Acupuncture for Toothaches
Toothache can become a serious problem if it is not being treated, especially for a long time. It can range from mild irritation to severe and agonizing pain. The pain could be constant, or it can come and go. Either way, people should seek proper medical treatment to address the cause of a toothache and prevent further complications. In the meantime, the ancient Chinese practice of acupressure might help ease the tooth pain.
It is believed that acupressure can help relieve toothache by:
- changing the way the brain perceives and processes pain signals from the nerves
- decreasing heart rate, blood pressure, and epinephrine within the body
- releasing the key chemical adenosine, which works to relax the central nervous system
- releasing molecules named anti-inflammatory cytokines, that help decrease inflammation
- increasing blood circulation, that can decrease swelling
- increasing the release of endorphins that play the main role in pain threshold
Acupressure does not address the cause of toothache, but it could possibly help temporarily alleviate tooth pain. If the case is that you are not finding the regular medication to be helpful, you might want to give acupuncture a try.
Theory #9 - Acupuncture for Asthma
Bronchial asthma is a chronic airway inflammatory disease, which is characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness that can lead to airflow blockage. Some of the common symptoms are coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. The treatment of acupuncture was proven to be effective for many different disorders and diseases, including airway disorders like bronchial asthma.
Overall, acupuncture treatment has led to a significant elimination of airway obstruction, chronic lung infection and mucus production in animal examples of asthma. It has also slowed down airway remodeling, reduced airway resistance and helped with lung dynamic compliance, since acupuncture treatment resulted in an outstanding decrease of the smooth muscle thickness and the airway wall thickness.
Lots of randomized, controlled, clinical trials in patients with asthma have proven acupuncture's clinical effectiveness in terms of symptom remission, as well as respiratory functional status. Patients with allergic asthma who received acupuncture treatment in combination with their standard medication showed significantly improved disease-specific and health-related quality of life, compared to patients who received standard medication alone.
What Type of Acupuncture is Suitable for you?
Some people might not find traditional acupuncture treatments to be suitable for them. Luckily, there is an electronic version of acupuncture. Electroacupuncture is a modern type of acupuncture. It uses electricity to encourage the benefits of this traditional therapeutic treatment.
Electroacupuncture uses needles that are placed in the same spots. After that, a small electrode is attached to the needles. A small amount of electricity runs through the electrode and gives out a slight vibration or soft hum during the treatment. The electrode gives off the effect of your acupuncturist activating the acupuncture point manually with their hands. This ensures you get the correct amount of stimulation during your entire treatment. The treatments are also a lot shorter because of the electrodes activating your acupuncture points more quickly than the practitioner doing it manually.
Electroacupuncture has shown to help in increasing your blood flow. This might help to relieve any pain you are feeling. In addition, this type of acupuncture warms up your muscles. It could also help with poor circulation and potential blockages.
Another condition that electroacupuncture has been shown to be effective in reducing is chronic stress. Studies have shown that this type of therapy can help you decrease long-term chronic stress through stimulation.
Electroacupuncture can be used as a part of your acupuncture treatment and it may help with conditions such as:
Where to go for Acupuncture?
If you are experiencing severe arthritis or back pain and considering acupuncture, there are many places to go to experience this fantastic therapy. There are many establishments and centers set up by acupuncturists that take in arthritis patients and perform acupuncture. However, if they are not close to your residence, you may need to drive a short distance to find one that will meet your needs.
While some people believe that more research is required to understand the acupuncture cure and its effectiveness, it is hard to argue with millions of satisfied patients worldwide. Who wouldn't like to experience natural pain relief without any side effects? It is worth a try.