Acupuncture is a treatment that has been in practice for thousands of years and one many will swear by.
It is based on ancient Chinese theories of the constantly changing flow of energy called "qi", through distinct pathways or "meridians".
These pathways cover the body somewhat like the nerves and blood vessels. The belief is that acupuncture will aid and improve this flow, thereby bringing relief from pain.
Some have much faith in this practice and will swear by its effectiveness, some think it is crazy and others, remain completely neutral.
The process of acupuncture requires a trained acupuncturist. Here in the United States we have more than 10,000 trained acupuncturists, 40 acupuncture schools and many medical schools teaching acupuncture.
One should be careful in choosing a acupuncturist because there are many out there who are self-proclaimed acupuncturists when in fact, they aren't trained at all. In some states doctors are the only persons allowed to be practicing acupuncture should they choose to do so.
If you think this procedure is something you'd like to try, ask your doctor for a referral or contact the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture at NCAAOM.org.
The Acupuncture Procedure
The acupuncture procedure itself involves short, thin needles that are inserted into specific points on the body known as acupoints that are meant to treat or prevent illness. The acupoints are associated with specific internal organs or organ systems.
Studies have shown that when needles are inserted into the skin at the nerves in the underlying muscles are stimulated, leading to the release of chemicals in the brain that block pain signals. The needles can sting some, but will not hurt. They are left in the skin for about ten minutes to an hour, depending on the ailment.
In Asia, many illnesses are treated with Acupuncture whereas here in the United States it is mainly used to relieve chronic pain caused by the following ailments:
- Back problems
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Dental Surgery
- Withdrawal from addictions such as drug and alcohol dependency
- Eye, ear, nose, throat, respiratory, gastrointestinal and muscular disorders
- Problems with the nervous system
- Relief of nausea caused by morning sickness
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society tested acupuncture on people with painful knee osteoarthritis who also had trouble sleeping. Since pain often interrupts sleep causing a vicious cycle that causes more pain, the researchers wondered if acupuncture could kill two birds with one stone. They set out to find out - and the study revealed that acupuncture improved both disturbed sleep and helped ease pain.
Acupunture Health Benefits Backed by Science
- Deep sleep. By revving neurotransmitters linked to sleeping, acupuncture can mean less time tossing and turning at night.
- Brighter outlook. Weekly sessions can ease depression within three months. This is similar to the effect of counseling.
- Weight loss. Obese adults shed up to nine pounds after getting acupressure for two weeks or more. It helps regulate hunger.
- Milder menopause. Acupuncture eases the frequency and severity of hot flashes for up to three months after an average of two months of treatment.
- Steady heart rate. Regular sessions can decrease markers of stress andreduce blood pressure.
- Less aches and pains. Half of one study's subjects found lower back pain relief for six months after five weeks of treatment, twice weekly.
Acupuncture facials, also called acufacials, use a combination of acupuncture, genle microcurrents, and facial techniques to lift muscles while improving your health from the inside out. The insertion of the hair-thin needle creates a microtrauma that increases collagen production and reduces the look and depth wrinkles.
Is this for you? Only you can determine that, however, if you decide you'd like to try this treatment, talk to your doctor first. Work with him or her and an acupuncturist together to get the best results needed for you.
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