Acupuncture is a time-tested, natural healing treatment that originated in China more than 5,000 years ago. It is an entire system of health and healing predicated on the concept that energy or the vital life force (Qi or chi) flows throughout the body via 12 major energy pathways or meridians.
The philosophy of acupuncture is based on the concept that disease emanates from troublesome — excessive or inadequate — energy flow through a meridian. This problematic energy flow causes disease and/or dysfunction of organs and tissues along that meridian.
What Are Meridians?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the term meridian refers to a pathway in the body in which a small electrical current or energy flows.
Each pathway courses through specific organs and tissues and is named accordingly; for example, there is a heart meridian and a kidney meridian. A disturbance of the energy flow in one organ along a pathway alters the energy flow to every tissue and organ along that pathway.
Is Acupuncture Effective?
Acupuncture has long been recognized as an effective treatment for chronic pain and other illnesses. There is nothing magical about acupuncture. Like other alternative treatments, Acupuncture works by activating the body’s own self-healing mechanisms. In 2012, a study found that acupuncture was effective for the treatment of back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain.
In light of the nationwide opioid crisis, doctors and patients are turning to acupuncture as a drug free alternative to traditional pain management.
Benefits of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is used to treat many conditions and illnesses:
- Chronic and acute pain
- Chronic headaches
- Various ulcers
- Athletic injuries
- Stroke paralysis
- Illnesses associated with environmental toxins
- Women’s health (menstrual problems, menopausal issues, fertility, prenatal and postnatal care)
- Emotional issues (stress, anxiety, insomnia)
- Mental disorders (depression, schizophrenia)
- Addictions (work, sex, smoking, alcohol, drugs, food) have been treated successfully with a type of ear acupuncture called auriculotherapy
Acupuncture for Cancer:
Recent medical research has shown that acupuncture can help manage some symptoms of cancer and side effects of cancer treatment. Acupuncture for Cancer can be helpful in managing symptoms such as mental fatigue, physical pain, anxiety, depression and side effect such as nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy, xerostomia related to radiation therapy, hot flashes related to hormone treatment, joint pain related to aromatase inhibitor therapy, and overall physical pain.
Acupuncture for Anxiety:
Managing anxiety can be difficult. Therapy can take months to see results and medication can have serious side effects. This has led anxiety suffers to seek out alternative treatments for their anxiety such as Acupuncture. According to Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, LAc, a certified acupuncturist, a physiologist, and the assistant director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at the School of Nursing & Health Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., when acupuncture for anxiety is effective, symptoms lessen after the first few visits.
Acupuncture for Fertility:
A group of German researches recently found that adding acupuncture to traditional IVF treatments substantially increased pregnancy success. But you don’t have to be participating in IVF treatments to reap the benefits of acupuncture for fertility. Acupuncture also stimulates egg production in women that can’t or don’t want to take fertility drugs.
Acupuncture for Depression:
1.75 Million people suffer from depression. Although traditional medication has helped a lot of these people there are a large group that are still suffering and looking for alternative ways to treat depression. These people are turning to acupuncture. A recent UK study concluded that acupuncture had a positive effect on depression, lowering the depression scale from an average of 16 out of 27 at the start of the study to 9 out of 27 at the end of the study. Results of acupuncture for depression lasted 3 months after treatment.
Acupuncture for Migraines:
According to the American Migraine Foundation there is evidence that acupuncture reduces the frequency of migraines or headaches in general. The effect acupuncture had on migraines is similar to the effect observed with preventive medication. With acupuncture frequency of headaches are dropped by 50% or more in up to 59% of individuals receiving acupuncture for migraines. This effect can persist for more than 6 months.
Acupuncture for TMJ:
For TMJ acupuncture is one of the most effective drug free treatments. Acupuncture for TMJ has been found to relieve inflammation, pain, and tension commonly associated with the condition. A recent British study indicated that 85% of patients benefited from acupuncture for TMJ with an average reduction in pain intensity of 75%. Patients with acute symptoms can experience relief after a few treatments. Chronic conditions may take a series of treatments over several weeks to find relief.
Acupuncture for Allergies:
Allergy suffers are faced with uncomfortable symptoms or medication that can make them drowsy and feel out of it which is why they are starting to turn to acupuncture to treat their symptoms. In a recent study 71 percent of patients who received acupuncture to treat their allergies reported improvement in their symptoms and less use of antihistamines.
What Does Acupuncture Treatment Involve?
During your first visit with our acupuncturist, you will be asked about your overall health, any conditions you have, lifestyle and other topics. Our goal is to put together a holistic picture of your treatment needs. We also try to understand the factors that contributed to your condition. Always inform us about all of your medical conditions, treatments and any medications you are taking.
Pre-treatment diagnosis also includes inspecting the tongue and face and checking the pulse in the radial or wrist area. This determines where the acupuncture needles will be placed.
Thin, flexible acupuncture needles are placed at particular points along a meridian, normalizing the energy flow to the diseased or dysfunctional organs and tissues along that meridian and healing the problem areas. Treatment may take place over a period of several weeks or more.
Most patients don’t feel the placement of the needle at all, while some have varying pain sensations ranging from minimal to moderate. Patients who find this painful are usually toxic and need detoxification prior to a full acupuncture treatment. Those who do find needle placement painful often report that any initial pain quickly subsides.
Other Aspects of Acupuncture Treatment
At Gentle Wellness Centers, we may recommend acupuncture as adjunct therapy to other treatments. Treatment of the immune system and many other therapies (even surgery) can be enhanced when combined with acupuncture.
In combination with acupuncture, your clinician may also prescribe Chinese herbs and diet and lifestyle changes, including increased physical activity.