Medical acupuncture can be used to treat a host of conditions, from a general sense of feeling unwell to chemotherapy-related nausea. While research has specified its effectiveness for a laundry list of ailments, there are even more that are yet to be uncovered. Some people even schedule a few acupuncture treatments per year as a “tune-up” to cultivate balance and ward off illness. As a form of preventative medicine, acupuncture is highly effective. It’s also effective for treating or alleviating the symptoms associated with acute and chronic conditions such as:
- Pain and Musculoskeletal Disorders: Migraines and headaches, injuries, tendonitis, neck pain, bursitis, back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, post-surgical pain, post-dental pain, inflammation and swelling, shingles, muscle tension and dysfunction, arthritis, including osteoarthritis, etc.
- Neurological Issues: Stroke-related conditions, Bell’s Palsy, movement disorders, trigeminal neuralgia, peripheral neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, paralysis, etc.
- Upper-Respiratory Conditions: Asthma, cold, flu, sore throat, sinusitis, allergies, bronchitis, laryngitis, emphysema, etc.
- Gastrointestinal Issues: Irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, colitis, acid reflux, gastritis, food allergies, including lactose intolerance, peptic ulcers, digestive tract bleeding, bacterial infections, hiatus hernia syndrome, etc.
- Urinary Difficulties: Urinary incontinence, neurogenic bladder, frequent urination, urinary tract infections, cystitis, painful urination, incomplete urination, difficult urination, chronic prostatitis, etc.
- Reproductive Disorders: Irregular menstrual cycles, infertility in men and women, menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms, heavy periods, menopausal symptoms, etc.
- Immunity: Chronic infections, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, thyroid disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, supportive treatment for those with cancer and AIDS, etc.
- Addiction: Alcohol, prescription medications, illegal drugs, nicotine, pornography, sex, food, etc.
- Eye and Ear Problems: Earaches, nerve deafness, tinnitus, Meniere’s disease, dizziness, red and itchy eyes, vertigo, cataracts, infections, impaired vision, etc.
- Emotional and Psychological Conditions: Depression, bipolar, anxiety, phobias, postpartum depression, insomnia, schizophrenia, restlessness, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.
- Miscellaneous: Low energy, fatigue, weight loss, restoring balance, general unease, cosmetic issues, discomfort related to pregnancy, bloating, immunity boost, stress, enhanced sports performance, skin problems, such as acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and heat rash, etc.
Considering medical acupuncture is a comprehensive practice, the conditions and issues it can treat are boundless. Discuss wellness concerns with a licensed acupuncture practitioner and they can likely work out a treatment plan. By balancing the mind, body, and spirit, acupuncture is the ideal way to enhance your quality of life.
What Does Medical Acupuncture Do?
Aside from finding that medical acupuncture is an effective alternative treatment, researchers have also tried to answer the question, “How does acupuncture work?” Each condition and individual requires the stimulation of different acupuncture points. The mechanisms for treating back pain may not be the same as those for treating infertility. However, there are general ways in which acupuncture works on the body as a whole.
From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture works by bringing the body, mind, and spirit into balance. Thin needles are inserted into various acupuncture points that are directly related to conditions and body functions. Everyone has a stream of life energy, known as qi (pronounced chee), that courses through their body. Qi flows along channels called meridians. When a blockage disrupts the flow of qi along the meridians, or the qi is imbalanced, it can lead to various ailments. The meridians encompass all of the internal organs, which is why the body is so sensitive to disruptions. A blockage in one organ can cause illness in another, because all aspects of a human are connected. In order to develop an unrestricted flow of qi, there must be a balance between the opposing yin and yang energies.
By needling very specific acupuncture points, the qi can be manipulated. It may move from areas of excess to balance areas that are deficient. When balance is achieved, there is a general sense of wellbeing and health is improved. The needles unblock any areas of obstruction. This allows for an optimal flow along the meridians to nourish all of the organs. Imbalances can affect the way the organs produce energy and absorb nutrients, oxygen, and fresh blood, while also hindering digestion. Balance encourages the body to heal itself naturally, which improves functioning. For example, because each aspect of the body is connected, a kidney imbalance could manifest itself as anxiety and insecurity, fatigue, or even infertility. When treated, needles are inserted along the kidney meridian to bring the flow of qi back into harmony. If left untreated, other organs will suffer the effects as well. Not only does acupuncture alleviate the symptoms of a condition, but it addresses the underlying root cause to manipulate the energy thus creating overall wellness.
Acupuncture is looked at from a more scientific angle in the Western world. It is believed that the insertion of needles at certain areas of the body either stimulates or inhibits the central nervous system. This in turn influences the internal organs via nerve reflex pathways. The nervous system also releases chemicals, opioids and endorphins, which can dull pain and decrease symptoms of a variety of conditions. Acupuncture is thought to cause a discharge of chemicals and hormones that affect the body’s internal mechanisms, promote a natural healing response, and bring about biochemical balance. Stimulating the adrenal gland by way of the pituitary gland, can trigger a cascade of anti-inflammatory chemicals, which further promote healing for pain and chronic conditions.
Other theories have been developed in an attempt to definitively answer the question: What does medical acupuncture do? As research progresses, more information may be available as to how acupuncture truly works. Regardless of its underlying mechanism, it is agreed upon that the ancient system of medicine brings about good health, a balance of mind, body, and spirit, and a sense of wellbeing.
Benefits of Acupuncture
When undergoing a treatment with Western medicine, the doctor typically asks “are the benefits worth the risks?” Those who have acupuncture performed to treat an issue, don’t need to ask that question. Acupuncture has virtually no side effects or risks. Instead, it only offers potential benefits. It is always worth trying acupuncture prior to anything more invasive or drastic. Acupuncture benefits include:
- Acupuncture improves or prevents a variety of health conditions and promotes overall wellness. People have seen acupuncture benefits when having sessions for headaches, weight loss, pain, fatigue, infertility, labor induction, allergies, asthma, depression, anxiety, osteoarthritis, sciatica, tennis elbow, eye problems, strokes, nausea from chemotherapy and operations, acne treatment, and more.
- It’s cost-effective. Issues such as infertility cost thousands of dollars to remedy in Western medical practices. Acupuncture is much more wallet-friendly.
- It’s painless and carries virtually no risks or side effects, like those inherent in medication or surgery.
- Acupuncture is holistic and treats the entire being, not just the symptoms.
- It can have a positive effect on mind, body, and spirit.
- Acupuncture balances the flow of energy, or qi, in the body.
- The ancient form of healing has over 2,000 years of clinical history, unlike new medications and procedures.
- One of the major benefits of acupuncture is that there is no downtime or long period of recovery.
- Acupuncture can be used as a form of preventative medicine.
- Acupuncture can treat general feeling of being unwell, which can’t be diagnosed or treated by conventional medicine.
- Sessions can strengthen the general constitution.
- Acupuncture can enhance immunity.
- Acupuncture treats illnesses that strike nearly every system in the body. Psychological, neuromuscular, neurological, general physical, respiratory, and reproductive issues have been successfully alleviated or eliminated.
- Acupuncture increases your overall energy and vitality.
- It is a potent stress reliever and leaves you with a feeling of relaxation.
- It increases mental clarity.
- It is extremely effective when used as an adjunct therapy to strengthen the effects of both treatments.
- Many individuals who do not respond to mainstream pain medications or treatments find relief with acupuncture.
The list of acupuncture benefits could fill volumes. This collection is by no means comprehensive. Medical acupuncture is a proven way to treat your being as a whole and restore feelings of wellness.