What does Acupuncture Benefit?
Acupuncture is often effective with a wide range of complaints, including chronic fatigue, depression, back pain, joint pain, infertility, asthma, addictions, and stress. Acupuncture is also helpful for many chronic illnesses and health concerns that have no clear origin or cause. Patients committed to a healthy lifestyle who receive ongoing acupuncture treatment for maintenance and health promotion often experience:
- Being sick less often and recovering more quickly
- Improvement of vitality and stamina
- Being able to take care of their own health
- Relationships with others deepening and becoming more harmonious
- Reductions in long term health care costs
*A survey of people who receive acupuncture, conducted by Claire Cassidy, Ph.D., indicates that they see their physicians less frequently and use fewer medications. In addition, over two thirds of those surveyed reported having avoided recommended surgery.
The World Health Organization recognizes the ability of acupuncture and traditional Oriental medicine to treat over 43 common disorders including:
- Addiction-alcohol, drug, smoking
- Back Pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue
- Chron’s disease
- Common cold
- Dental pain
- Digestive disorders
- Elbow pain
- Emotional problems
- Eye problems
- Facial palsy/tics
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Knee pain
- Menopausal symptoms
- Menstrual irregularities
- Morning sickness
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Smoking cessation
- Sore throat
- Tennis elbow
- Tooth pain
- Urinary tract infection
Does Acupuncture hurt and is it safe?
The sensations that patients experience during acupuncture range from nothing at all to a brief ache or heaviness in the area being needled. Some points are more sensitive than others. By and large patients describe the sensations as fleeting and the treatment experience as deeply relaxing.
There is general agreement that acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners using sterile needles. Because acupuncture needles penetrate the skin, they are required by law in the U.S. to be sterile, disposable, and used only once, identical to the regulations for similar needles used in hospitals and clinics. There is no risk of bacterial or viral infection when sterile one-time-use needles are applied.
Adverse effects to acupuncture are exceedingly rare and are usually associated with poorly trained and/or unlicensed acupuncturists. The majority of side effects reported are minor, mainly slight bleeding at entry site (2.9%), hematoma (2.2%), and dizziness (1%). The use of acupuncture has become increasingly popular and endorsed by the United States National Institutes of Health, the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, the World Health Organization, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (a sub-division of the NIH).
Why would I see an Acupuncturist?
Many patients begin acupuncture treatment to find relief from a wide range of physical conditions. Some patients have lived with their condition for years believing they must live with pain. Still others believe that taking a pill, which masks their physical or emotional symptoms, is the answer. Acupuncture provides gentle healing on a deep level, and can succeed where other treatments have not. Many who are not experiencing ailments also seek treatment to maximize their wellness and maintain balance. Acupuncture awakens the senses and offers the possibility of deep healing of the body, mind and spirit as an inseparable whole. Patients report increased clarity, creativity and deeper meaning in their day-to-day lives. Frequently, patients come for regular treatments to achieve increased effectiveness and enjoyment at work. Others come to help deepen their relationships with others. Acupuncture can be used as a preventative measure to keep you healthy throughout the year.
Many women are seeking acupuncture for OB/GYM concerns: infertility, PMS, endometriosis and menopause. Acupuncture is uniquely suited and has been used to treat woman’s health issues for thousands of years. From an eastern viewpoint, the body's sense of balance will be reflected in her menstrual cycle, fertility, postpartum and menopause. Chronic worry and stress, overwork, grief, anxiety, and poor nutrition can effect the balance of a woman’s body.
Symptoms that women accept as normal such as cramps and heavy bleeding are a sign of an imbalance. When in balance menstrual cycles should be regular with no “PMS”, cramps, migraines. Conception should come naturally, and menopause should have no symptoms other than the cessation of menses.
Acupuncture can ease:
• Mood swings, depression, irritability, anxiety
• Menopause-related issues:hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, bone loss, anxiety, moodiness, sleeplessness
• Menstrual cycle regulation
• Ovarian cysts
• Menstrual Cramps
• PMS (headaches, fatigue, bloating, irritability, sadness)
• Pregnancy-related issues:nausea, indigestion, fatigue, back pain, swelling
What can I expect?
Most people are surprised at the depth of relaxation and the sense of well being and healing which occurs from the rebalancing of the body’s energy. Often relief from symptoms is felt immediately, although relief may occur over the course of days or weeks depending on the severity of symptoms. You will find you will look forward to treatment for the many benefits that are received from acupuncture.
Acupuncture and stress?
We all are exposed to stressful situations in our lives. If we are healthy, the stress is short lived and not too severe, we can usually recover without developing any major symptoms. However, when the stress is extreme, or if it lasts a long time, our emotional health and ultimately, our physical health begin to suffer.
Some common stress related illnesses are: irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, hypertension, stroke, myocardial infarction, migraine, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and even auto-immune diseases.
In ancient times, our reaction to stress (“fight or flight",) enabled us to run or defend ourselves during real threats such an animal attack. In modern times our stressors are much different. Working on a computer all day, cell phones, a stressful job, traffic, being overweight or watching the nightly news is more frequent and more consistent than our ancestors experienced. As a result we find ourselves in a constant state of “fight or flight”…what we call stress. The body's response to stress is to elevate insulin and cortisol levels, increase blood pressure, shut down the digestive system and suppress the immune system.
Even if the stressors are no longer present, the body continues to keep the stress response active. This can deplete our kidneys, and adrenal glands and decrease our white blood cells, which defend out body against disease. In order to reduce stress we must eliminate as much as we can through lifestyle changes (nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques) and treating the physical body in order to release the emotions. This can help to reprogram the body’s response to stress.
How can Acupuncture help?
Typically when we get stressed we tense up. This tightening causes our body’s energy (Ch'i) to get stuck. Ch'i enables our food to digest, our legs to move and our lungs to fill with air. Think about how your body responds when you are under stress perhaps you find it hard to breath, or swallow, maybe your stomach aches or your ears ring. Stress, acts like a traffic jam, blocking the free flow of energy in the body. Many people who are very stressed suffer from upper back, shoulder and neck pain. This is because stress is causing tension in those areas, blocking the free flow of energy, causing pain, tightness, and often leading to headaches.
Acupuncture effectively treats disorders caused by stress, by unblocking stuck Ch'i, allowing it to flow properly throughout the body. We feel more relaxed and can sleep better at night. Our food is digested smoothly and moves through the bowels properly. As our tension is relieved, so are our symptoms. Since we are more relaxed our temper becomes more even and we are less reactive. Acupuncture also releases stress reducing, natural pain-killing, chemicals in the brain, called endorphins.1 In addition, acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body, which brings oxygen to the tissues and clears out cortisol and other waste chemicals. The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles
Acupuncture and endorphins. Neurosci Lett. 2004 May 6;361(1-3):258-61.
Is there scientific evidence that Acupuncture works and where else can I find information about Acupuncture?
Over the last few decades much research has been conducted to explain how acupuncture works. The 1997 National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported, “Acupuncture can cause multiple biological responses, mediated mainly by sensory neurons to many structures within the central nervous system. This can lead to activation of pathways affecting various physiological systems in the brain as well as in the periphery”(1) and “acupuncture activates the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, resulting in a broad spectrum of systemic effects. Alteration in the secretion of neurotransmitter and neurohormones and changes in the regulation of blood flow, both centrally and peripherally have been documented. There is also evidence of enhancements in immune functions produced by acupuncture”(2)
1,2National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture, Program & Abstracts (Bethesda, MD, November 3-5, 1997). Office of alternative Medicine and Office of Medical Applications of Research, Bethesda.
- National Institutes of Healthhttp://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture
- World Health Organizationwww.who.int/topics/traditional_medicine/en/index.html.pubmed.gov
- Acupuncture efface MRI
- Back pain