Anyone new to the acupunctural scene might wonder what tiny needles inserted into your muscles can do for your body.
Despite their confusion, there are numerous levels of care delivered through the practice of acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a great example of finding the source of relief and healing within the body rather than from external sources like pain medication. It makes the body release naturally occurring chemicals and painkillers to ease pain and speed up healing.
With roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this centuries-old healing technique has earned its place in the top tier of alternative health. It is now pushing even further into the mainstream with clinical studies supporting its benefits.
How exactly does acupuncture work?
This question typically comes with answers that include words like natural, self-healing, acupoints, and of course, needles. The use of strategically placed needles in acupuncture encourages blood flow to an area, stimulating function and triggering self-healing.
Modern medicine has acknowledged the effectiveness of acupuncture. Once a qualified acupuncturist determines where the precise acupoints on the body are, they can use the needles to stimulate them. Muscles will tighten and then release, creating a relaxing experience for the client.
Benefits of Acupuncture Are Numerous And Undeniable
The practice of acupuncture has become so mainstream that even some insurance policies now cover it for pain relief. Let's take a deeper look at just how beneficial acupuncture is to the body.
Treatment of Chronic Pain from Certain Diseases
Acupuncture for pain relief is easily the most popular use for acupuncture. The mechanism here is rather straight-forward. The insertion of these fine needles into the acupoints relieve pain by releasing endorphins – hormones that trigger a positive feeling in the body. They also stimulate the brain to release serotonin for happiness.
Dramatic results are mostly seen in patients with diseases that result in chronic pain, especially those related to the nerves.
While acupuncture might not exactly cure diseases, it has been known to alleviate the symptoms (especially pain) of several conditions including –
- Menstrual cramps
- Pain for peptic ulcers
- Knee pain
- Back pain
- Nausea sprains
- Tennis elbow
- Dental pain
- Postoperative pain
This shows that it will be well worth it to have an acupuncturist as part of a patient's medical team. That way, they can rest assured that their healing process involves a holistic approach. This is especially important for athletes with sports-related injuries, as acupuncture reduces the need for painkillers. In a 2020 article published in the British Medical Acupuncture Society journal, researchers found that acupuncture treatment was just as effective as NSAIDs for the treatment of lower back pain in athletes.
An Alternative to Opioids
Opioid addiction is a huge concern among health care providers for patients with chronic pain. As part of a safe and effective option for pain control in such conditions or after surgery, acupuncture can offer an alternative to conventional pain reducers. Acupuncture provides a non-addictive, much cheaper alternative to opioids, which ultimately reduces the chances of abuse.
One survey showed that family physicians who were trained in acupuncture prescribed fewer opioids than their counterparts and with good results. This is especially suited for people who cannot take another form of medication. Plus, it can be successfully combined with other treatments.
Additionally, it can be used to wean patients off opioids. And with acupuncture taking some of the pain away, they may be able to control their urges and have less of the terrible symptoms of withdrawal. It doesn't end there. In a 2019 review article published in the Chinese Medical Journal, researchers revealed that acupuncture before surgery could potentially reduce pain levels immediately after surgery, and thus the need for opioids.
Boosts the Immune System
The importance of a healthy immune system cannot be overemphasized, especially now that there's a pandemic on the loose. Everybody should ensure their body's natural defense is top-notch.
Acupuncture works great in this field, as it has significant effects on the immune system. It stimulates production of the body's immune cells, thereby enhancing the immune system to protect the body against various pathogens and infections.
Beyond protecting the body from the influx or effects of such pathogens, acupuncture can also relieve symptoms of such conditions and greatly reduce the number of sick days one has to take. Check out this research article on using acupuncture for the treatments of long COVID-19 symptoms.
The Energy Boost
When it's not a few needles in someone's body, most pictures that depict acupuncture feature someone standing at the top of a mountain with their hands spread wide – the hallmark of high energy levels.
It's rather fitting since acupuncture plays such a huge role in boosting energy. It can calm Yang energy (a fast and hot energy) while stimulating the opposite Yin energy. This successfully manipulates the energy levels of the body, resulting in the restoration of an adequate energy level to keep fatigue at bay.
Also, acupuncture works great against insomnia to promote better sleep. Adequate sleep and a well-rested body (and mind) help the body to conserve and restore energy. Ultimately, acupuncture can help to significantly increase one's energy levels.
To the layperson, the benefits of acupuncture end in pain relief. Yet, it goes way beyond that to improve sleep, increase energy and mental clarity, reduce stress levels and support a healthy immune system.
These important factors, when out of whack, can take so much away from a person's life. If you've got any conditions that cause you pain or just make you feel mentally and physically drained, then you should definitely give acupuncture a try.
To get started or for more information, reach out to our team or book an appointment today!