In recent years acupuncture has become more popular, but what exactly is it? How does it work? And are there any real benefits? The thought of someone sticking needles into my skin doesn’t fill me with joy, but like many others you may be very interested to learn more about this fascinating concept.
In today’s article, we are going to answer all these questions and find out about this interesting ancient medical practice. Chances are you’ll want to locate your nearest acupuncture clinic and experience this treatment for yourself.
Acupuncture is a form of medical treatment that involves inserting tiny, thin needles into certain points in a person’s skin. This can be done all across the body. The depth the needle is inserted will depend on the treatment you receive.
It’s most commonly used as a treatment to help relieve pain, but it can also be used for a wide range of other complaints.
How Does it Work?
This question is tricky to answer. There isn’t that much scientific understanding of acupuncture. People that use the treatment claim that it works by balancing vital energy, while others believe it has a more neurological placebo effect. The topic is very controversial among Western medical doctors and scientists.
Traditional Chinese medicine claims that the positive results are the result of a harmonious balance of the “yin” and “yang” life force, otherwise known as the “chi”. They believe that illness is caused by an imbalance of the forces. Qi flows through meridians in the human body. The energy flows are accessible through 350 acupuncture points located on your body. There are said to be more than 2,000 acupuncture points connected by pathways.
Inserting needles into certain points brings the energy back into alignment, therefore making the person being treated feel better. This might sound a bit like a fairy tale to some people and there is no scientific proof that these meridians exist. Still, those that use the treatment swear by it.
What can You Treat with Acupuncture?
There are several ailments that acupuncture can be used to treat. The most common use is for tension headaches and severe migraines. Other treatments include:
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
- Knee pain
- High blood pressure
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- Allergic rhinitis
- Dental pain
- Tourette syndrome
What to Expect
During the first treatment, the acupuncture therapist will examine and assess the condition of the patient. Once the proper treatment has been established, they will insert one, or more, thin, sterile needles into relevant points. The needles they use are disposable to prevent cross-contamination.
Once the needle is inserted the patient may feel a dull ache at the base of the needle. This should quickly subside, and the treatment should be relatively painless. In some instances, the needles are heated or stimulated with electricity before being inserted. The needles will be left in place for between 5 and 30 minutes before they are removed.
The amount of treatment you require will depend on the individual. A person experiencing chronic pain may need regular treatments over a period of a few months. A migraine or minor ailment could see an improvement after the first few sessions.
Instead of needles, other forms of stimulation are sometimes used over acupuncture points. These include:
Surprising Benefits of Acupuncture
There are many surprising benefits that patients have reported when using acupuncture as a form of treatment, such as:
- Mood enhancement: The treatment helps alleviate stress and anxiety, because during the treatment your body releases endorphins and other chemicals that improve your mood.
- Improved sleep quality: Acupuncture increases your body’s natural ability to produce melatonin. This is the hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle.
- Immune system support: It helps strengthen the immune system and fight infections.
- Boosts energy levels: Stimulating the appropriate pathways leads to increased energy and physical stamina.
Are There Any Risks Involved?
All therapies carry an element of risk because every person can react differently. For example, improper placement of the needle can result in pain during the treatment. But as long as you follow precautions, acupuncture is as safe as any other medical treatment. Still if a patient has a bleeding disorder this treatment isn’t recommended.
Always ensure that the person performing the treatment is qualified and uses the correct techniques and equipment. The disposable needles should be opened in front of you and disposed of correctly after use.
There is still a lot of controversy surrounding the use of acupuncture as a treatment, but many patients have an improved quality of life and put their faith in this alternative medical practice. There are many benefits that far outweigh the risks involved.
Would you be brave enough to try acupuncture? Let us know in the comments