Western medicine has downplayed and even marginalized acupuncture as an acceptable medical practice for quite some time, but recent research and practice have drawn it into the realm of acceptable therapeutic practice. In recent decades, a greater understanding and use of acupuncture treatments has increased and many patients desire it to be used in their treatments. Let’s explore acupuncture therapy in more detail.
What is Acupuncture Therapy
Acupuncture therapy is based on a medical protocol for pain management which focuses on balancing the flow of energy (qi or chi), inside your body’s nervous system. Modifying the flow of chi is the traditional explanation for the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy, but modern research has been able to determine the actual physiological mechanisms in relation to pain management. Acupuncture needling for pain management influences the activity of an amino acid known as adenosine, which comes to the surface of the skin after an injury.
Acupuncture effects more than just pain management. It has been and continues to be used as a treatment for a number of disorders and conditions including:
There are numerous other applications where acupuncture is being used by making use of traditional Chinese medical (TCM) theory and practice along with modern theories and research. A full understanding of how the two merge together takes a great deal of time, but an Introduction to Acupuncture and How It Works can help fill in those greater details.
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Is Acupuncture Therapy Safe?
The first questions that people often ask concerning acupuncture therapy are related to whether or not it is safe. In decades past, when acupuncture treatment was relegated to back alleys and considered quack medicine it was a great deal less safe than it is in our modern age. Today, acupuncture needles are regulated as medical instruments by the FDA and are required to be sterilized under those guidelines. Besides sterile needles, always go to a qualified practitioner in a facility which insures proper sterilization of equipment.
Statistically, there has been a very low incidence of complications related to acupuncture therapy. Most uses of acupuncture treatments have a very low risk associated with them in any way as long as the needles used are sterilized and marked for single use only before being sterilized again. In general, the National Institute of Health (NIH) deems acupuncture to be a safe, complimentary treatment method.
How Does Acupuncture Treatment Work?
Acupuncture works by managing the flow of chi, or energy, in your body’s nervous system. Needles are inserted in specific points called acupuncture points or acupressure points. These points have a buildup of chi energy like water that is damming a stream. The needle, essentially, releases the buildup of energy and allows it to flow freely through channels known as meridians.
There are twelve regular meridians (see meridian chart here) in acupuncture and each is linked to the treatment of a specific vital organ of the body. Placing needles in various places along those meridians releases the energy to flow to and from those vital organs and brings about healing and/or pain relief.
How Many Acupuncture Treatments Will I Need?
It is difficult to determine how many treatments will be necessary to treat a specific condition. One condition might be symptoms of another condition, which might be symptomatic of a third condition. Complete relief might come in a similar form as peeling away the individual layers of an onion. For each condition treated, there are essentially 3 stages which include:
Relief stage. This stage is associated with bringing relief to primary symptoms like pain, stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and lethargy. 3 to 5 treatments per week for 2 to 3 weeks are typical during this stage.
Healing stage. There is a natural transition between the relief stage and healing stage which occurs when symptoms begin to disappear. The focus of this stage is on repairing the root of the problem. 2 times per week for several weeks is typical during this stage.
Maintenance stage. During this stage, patients have become symptom free and only make use of acupuncture therapy in order to maintain their healthy state. Treatments are reduced to once per week or once every two weeks during this stage.
What Are Some Acupuncture Benefits?
There are a number of common acupuncture benefits related to pain management and physiological conditions as well as psychological issues. Let’s examine some of the most sought after and most successful applications of acupuncture and their benefits.
Acupuncture for anxiety
Acupuncture is a drug free option that works more rapidly than most psychiatric therapies for severe stress and anxiety.
Acupuncture for fertility
Because stress has a tendency to lower the production of hormones necessary for fertility, many doctors are recommending acupuncture as a viable treatment for infertility.
Acupuncture for migraines
Research shows that acupuncture treatment has an ongoing effect of reducing both the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches.
Acupuncture for addiction
Research is mixed when it comes to acupuncture benefits associated with substance abuse addiction recovery. Treatments using acupuncture are reported to reduce both the positive and negative effects of substance abuse leading to recovery.
Acupuncture for back pain
Back pain and the sciatica, which is often associated with it can be relieved through acupuncture treatment as well.
Acupuncture for weight loss
Often utilized to assist with appetite reduction, many have successfully steadily lost weight over a long-term utilizing acupuncture treatments.
Acupuncture for stroke
Current studies show that many patients who experience chronic paralysis and spasticity caused from stroke have shown improvement, mostly in swallowing and speech, through acupuncture treatments.
There are numerous other acupuncture benefits for conditions like depression, arthritis, insomnia, chemotherapy recovery, cognitive decline, and chronic heartburn and indigestion. As research continues to grow and the safety of acupuncture practice increases, acupuncture continues to become a viable treatment option. Contact us if you would like to learn more about acupuncture therapy.
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