Everything You Need To Know About Acupuncture (And Its Benefits)
Acupuncture is more than just sticking needles into the body. Sure, it does involve needles, but there is an intricate art to make sure it offers you all the potential benefits. Therefore you need to see a professional when you want to go through the process of acupuncture.
There are many questions that people have when it comes to the Chinese medicinal practice. Will it hurt? How long will it take? What’s it for?
Here’s a look at everything you need to know about acupuncture and just how you will benefit from having it.
What Is Acupuncture?
You will likely know that acupuncture is a holistic approach to many medical problems. It’s a Chinese medical practice, using absolutely no pharmaceutical drugs to treat conditions. A trained practitioner will place thin needles in certain pressure points within the body. They can be in the head, back, legs, and more.
The needles are usually placed where pain or problems are experienced. However, this isn’t always the case. It will depend on the reason for your pain or ailment.
Out of all Chinese medical practices, acupuncture is the most popular within the Westerns world. It’s a complimentary treatment, which means you can go through it while following other Western medical treatment plans. Over centuries acupuncture has developed into what it is today, and the Chinese continue to develop the treatment to make sure it is safe and beneficial.
While many people will think of acupuncture to treat pain, it isn’t just for this. It can help to relieve stress and treat some diseases. It’s often mixed with other types of Chinese or herbal therapies to make the most of the treatment.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
I can understand why you would ask this question. You have needles placed into your skin. When you go for blood tests, you will likely feel the needle breaking your skin. It can be a sharp pain, and for some people, the pain lasts for ages.
Isn’t acupuncture supposed to treat pain? Why would it involve something that hurts?
Well, the truth is that acupuncture doesn’t hurt. While needles are used, they don’t go deep enough to affect the nerves. They are also tiny needles that you will barely feel breaking the skin. Many patients share that they have no idea the needles have been placed until the practitioner leaves them to relax.
One of the biggest reasons people will get acupuncture is to treat chronic pain. The pressure from the needles on strategic points helps to boost the blood flow and reduce inflammation. Instead of experiencing more pain, you can feel the pain leave your body.
It’s not just the practitioners and patients that say this. Studies have shown that acupuncture doesn’t hurt. It helps to solve painful conditions instead.
Do Western Doctors Recommend It?
There is a common issue with holistic practices in the Western World. While many treatments can help, doctors will refuse to recommend them. There is a range of reasons for this, but one of those is linked to the lack of proof that the treatments will work.
This isn’t the case when it comes to acupuncture. This is an herbal treatment that is often highly recommended by doctors, depending on the condition. It can be highly recommended for those suffering from chronic pain, some chronic conditions, and inflammation. However, doctors will only recommend it when the studies have been positive or are looking positive.
There are still many studies into the treatment option. Scientists want to know if this can help with a range of mental disorders since it helps to reduce stress in patients. There are hopes that it can help cure depression, anxiety, and other conditions.
In most of cases, doctors will recommend the treatment. If they don’t recommend it, they will often back your idea to try it. There are no risks associated with the treatment, which makes it a safe option to test. However, doctors will often recommend it alongside your normal Western treatments.
While going through acupuncture, your doctor will also recommend other holistic methods of treatment. It’s all about a healthy lifestyle, which includes a good diet and exercise.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
As mentioned, there are no risks involved with acupuncture. However, this is only when you follow some guidelines. You will want to make sure that any practitioner is licensed and trained. There are many people who claim to be practitioners. Remember that you’re having needles stuck into your skin.
It’s essential that any place you visit is clean and reputable. The practitioners will have guidelines that they need to follow to ensure the workspace and needles are sterile.
If you are in doubt, you can always ask about how the needles are cleaned and cared for. If a practitioner is going to dodge your question, find a better person.
Because of the success of acupuncture, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does regulate the needles. They are classed as medical supplies, which means that they must be sterile and toxic free. This offers you some extra protection, as there are some limits on the type of people who can buy them.
Is It Safe During Pregnancy?
Most of treatments available aren’t suitable for expectant mothers. The great news is that this isn’t the case when it comes to acupuncture. The treatment is considered safe for pregnant women.
However, you will need to make sure you hire a professional practitioner. There will be certain pressure points that a licensed practitioner will want to avoid during pregnancy. They can cause problems for the baby and bring on pre-term labor.
You will need to do your research. Your doctor or health practitioner may be able to recommend a reputable place for your acupuncture. There are certainly some benefits during pregnancy to having this holistic treatment done.
What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture?
Now that you know about acupuncture and what it entails, it’s time to look at the benefits that the Chinese therapy is supposed to help with. Just how could you gain by going through the process on a regular basis. There are multiple benefits to going through acupuncture. Here’s a look at the biggest ways, with the scientific research that backs up patient and practitioner claims.
Reduce migraines and headaches. One of the biggest benefits is surrounding migraines and headaches. If you regularly suffer from migraines, you’ll know how debilitating they are. This isn’t just a headache that goes away after a couple of Tylenol. Migraines knock you for six, leaving you feeling exhausted, sick, and in agony. Just light makes it worse, and even the sound of breathing can make you feel bad.
Of course, you can also suffer from severe headaches. They’re not quite as bad as migraines, but they don’t go away easily. Tension headaches are among the worst offenders.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can help to get rid of headaches and migraines. These studies involved patients who had frequent tension headaches of a chronic nature. The patients didn’t need any pharmaceutical products to get rid of their chronic pain.
Clinical trials have even compared real acupuncture to a placebo-type version. The clinical trials also included those who received absolutely no treatments. Throughout the trials, it was those who received the real deal that saw an improvement in their lifestyle. They had a reduction in their symptoms and suffered fewer migraines and headaches daily. Those who had the placebo method saw no changes at all.
During follow up assessments, the benefits continued in those who had the real acupuncture. It’s not clear if these patients continued to seek the treatment or stopped after the clinical trial.
The great news from this is that chronic headaches daily can be a thing of the past. The study hasn’t explained just why it happens, but it may be linked to the reduction in stress, which is a benefit within itself.
Improve chronic pain elsewhere in the body. It’s not just your head that benefits from acupuncture. Studies have also found that acupuncture can help to reduce chronic pain in other parts of the body. This has been especially the case in those who have neck or back pain or have arthritis in the joints.
This benefit was noted in an earlier study than the headache benefits. The initial tests were in patients with lower back pain, and patients found that they didn’t have as many symptoms after going through eight weeks of acupuncture.
There have been more studies over the years, considering all the other types of chronic pain patients can face. Studies show results in those with arthritis, shoulder pain, and even upper back or neck pain. Almost 20,000 patients were involved in the most recent studies showing the benefits.
Like with the studies involving headaches, the patients would either get a placebo type or the real acupuncture. Those who receive the placebo type didn’t see the same results, making it clear that this isn’t all in mind.
Because of the studies, many more doctors are recommending acupuncture to their patients. There is nothing to lose when it is a complimentary treatment.
Slowing down cognitive decline. A major benefit that has been noticed in the past is the ability to prevent and slow down cognitive decline. Acupuncture has proven beneficial to slow down the development of Parkinson’s disease. Acupuncture has even shown the ability to reverse some of the conditions. In fact, 85% of patients in the trials showed that some symptoms were relieved. Not all the same symptoms were relieved in every patient, due to the development of the disease. It is a good sign, though.
Scientists have found that acupuncture can help to generate a neural response within the brain. It’s the decline of the neural responses that can lead to diseases like Parkinson’s disease. Patients found that they lost their tremors and found it easier to sleep or walk. They didn’t have as much pain, and their mental health improved since their symptoms did.
The best news is that acupuncture showed now negative effects. Doctors are more likely to recommend it since there is nothing to lose but a lot to gain.
One of the downsides to the study is the lack of information on the Parkinson’s stages before and after the trial. Those who are in later stages may not see the same benefits.
While the neural response was improved, there are no signs that acupuncture can help with other mental and cognitive problems yet. There are still ongoing studies to see if it can help treat depression, anxiety, and more.
Improve postpartum health. Pregnant women are often recommended acupuncture, if they think carefully about their practitioner. It’s not surprising that the treatment can help to relieve the pain from pregnancy, especially as the joints start to loosen off.
However, it’s not just pregnant women who can benefit. After giving birth is a painful and stressful time. Acupuncture can be extremely useful then.
The treatment helps with the balancing of hormones. It reduces the stress, which can also help ease anxiety. This is something that can even be used during labor to help naturally deal with the pain and reduce anxiety surrounding giving birth. It is best used before labor to prepare.
After the birth, it is possible that it can help reduce the onset of postpartum depression. There are no full studies into this just yet.
Reduce your stress levels. One of the most powerful things about acupuncture is that it balances your hormones. It can help to get rid of anxiety and stress from your body. You may have stress without even realizing it. This is a problem that will affect your overall health.
Stress will upset your digestive and immune systems, prevent you from sleeping, and cause pain in your neck and shoulders. It can increase your blood pressure and put you at higher risks of developing various diseases and conditions.
While there are medications that you can take, acupuncture has proven more successful. After all, the medications treat the symptoms of stress. The acupuncture treats the stress itself. This is best with a good diet, exercise, and focus on managing your stress levels yourself.
Can Acupuncture Help Prevent Cancer?
There are some theories that acupuncture is good for preventing and treating cancer. This isn’t quite the case. While studies have considered it, they’ve mostly focused on how acupuncture can help with the recovery process.
The treatments don’t affect your cancerous cells. Patients have still been through chemotherapy and other treatments to kill the cancer cells. What the acupuncture does is make the side effects from the treatments easier to handle.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can leave patients to feel less nauseous after their treatments. They feel like they have more energy and are more themselves. Their stress levels aren’t as affected, which means their immunity is better.This then helps to prevent other diseases affecting the body, making it harder to fight against cancer.
Acupuncture can help to protect the healthy cells, preventing cancer from spreading. However, it doesn’t quite remove cancer from the body. The treatments do that, but they get to work more effectively because of the acupuncture.
Remember that this is a complimentary treatment. There have been no side effects shown by using acupuncture with other treatments.
Are You Going to Opt for Acupuncture?
You may be surprised at all the ways this Chinese treatment can help. There’s a reason why the Western World has opted for it more. Doctors have noticed that this is something that offers a range of benefits and not just of a placebo nature. More and more chronic pain patients are finding pain relief without medications.
This doesn’t mean you should just jump right into treatments. It’s worth discussing your condition with your doctor and finding out more about how acupuncture could help. You should also discuss getting the treatment alongside your current medication.
When you do decide to opt for this treatment, find out more about the practitioners in your area. You want one that is fully licensed and trained. While there are no adverse effects noted, this is based on using a professional. There are still many risks involved with using unsterile or toxic needles in the skin.