Acupuncture is regarded as alternative or complementary medicine and has stemmed from Chinese medicine. It involves using fine needles which are inserted in specific places in the body for healing purposes.
How It Works
In the west, acupuncture aims to stimulate muscles and nerves in the body. This then causes the body to produce endorphins which relieve pain.
How it is Performed
Usually a session of acupuncture lasts between 20 and 40 minutes. During this session a physical examination is performed, your medical health is reviewed and your general health is assessed. There are usually around ten sessions of acupuncture in a course of treatment.
Afterwards the acupuncture needles are inserted.
The needles are placed on the areas of the body that are known as acupuncture points. A person receiving the treatment will be asked to either lie down or to sit up. Clothes may need to be removed if the acupuncture practitioner needs to access specific parts of the patient’s body. The needles that are used are for single use only and are thrown away after use. The needles are only a few centimetres long and are fine.
Certain points are selected where the needles are inserted. This depends on where the issue lies for the patient. In a session, up to twelve points can be used, this all really depends on the symptoms.
Once the needles have been inserted they are left there for either a few minutes or they can be left for up to thirty minutes. The needles can be placed underneath the surface of the skin or they can be placed deeper so that they aim to touch muscle tissue. It’s not normal to feel any pain when acupuncture needles have been inserted.
The Health Benefits of Acupuncture
A great deal of research suggests that acupuncture does help to treat some conditions. A few of these include:
- Eases Migraines
Acupuncture has been used for headaches and migraines for quite a while. Acupuncture is believed to help both reduce the amount of migraines as well as the pain associated with them. We do not know exactly how acupuncture helps with migraines, even though the results are positive. It’s been stated that the side effects of acupuncture are far less than those related to taking standard medicine. Quite often neck pain has been noted as one condition that’s treated effectively through acupuncture. It is often neck pain that causes soreness, tense muscles and headaches in the first place.
- Relieves Sciatica
Acupuncture for sciatica has said to be effective. Sciatica is a condition where pain in the lower back radiates through the legs, buttocks and hips. Acupuncture is believed to be over 80% effective in reducing sciatic pain. When combined with herbal medicine, this figure increases to 95%. For this reason, a combined therapy is often preferred to acupuncture alone.
- Reduces Insomnia
Once again research has revealed that acupuncture can be very effective for sufferers of insomnia. Our bodies release a chemical known as nocturnal melatonin which stimulates and assists with sleep. Acupuncture helps to improve the secretion of this chemical.
- Decreases Chronic Pain
One of the main uses of acupuncture is chronic pain. Studies have highlighted that acupuncture can reduce pain up to 15% and especially for chronic back pain which is related to pregnancy, an old injury that’s never had the time to heal, bad sleeping habits, muscle tightness and physical stress.
Pain in the knee is also another reason for the use of acupuncture. Knee pain such as pain related to age, osteoarthritis or pain as a result of surgery.
- Stops Vomiting and Nausea
On our forearms, near our wrists, we have a pressure point. When this area is stimulated the feeling of nausea which can cause vomiting is reduced. Studies have highlighted that acupuncture was as effective as anti-sickness drugs. Additionally, acupuncture does not affect your body chemistry like anti-sickness medication would.
For cancer patients, chemotherapy can be a lifesaving form of treatment. There are however side effects to chemotherapy including nausea and vomiting. Acupuncture is believed to help prevent vomiting and nausea on the day that chemotherapy treatment took place. That said, it’s not sure to help nausea and vomiting that comes after chemotherapy has been given.
- Helps Arthritis
Arthritis affects millions of people across the world. The sad news is that standard medicine often fails to help with arthritis and sufferers end up resorting in having to take medicine to obtain relief from the pain. Thankfully acupuncture has been said to be very effective in treating the inflation and pain related to the different kinds of arthritis, so those that feel hindered by their condition can now feel some relief and get back to doing what they enjoy most. This is especially for those who generally love to be active such as enjoy training for ski season or for an athletics competition.
- Helps with Anxiety
A few studies have been conducted related to acupuncture and anxiety, specifically perioperative anxiety, anxiety neurosis and generalised anxiety disorder. Although the exact reasons for how acupuncture helps with anxiety is not known, these studies have found a positive correlation between the two. As always, the side effects of normal drugs which are taken for anxiety do have side effects including depression, mood swings and nausea and therefore a reduction in this medicine can only be a plus.
These are just a few of the conditions that can be treated and eased through the use of acupuncture and there are many, many more conditions that acupuncture can help. It is clear to see that not only does acupuncture help many people, it is also a way of treating illnesses/conditions without the burden of side effects which come with taking modern medicine.