One of the alternative methods of treatment gaining traction today is acupuncture. Many people have used it and reported positive results. 

Think about it…

If it wasn’t effective, it wouldn’t have made it into the mainstream. 

Although many people have claimed to see results with acupuncture, it is usually used in combination with other treatment methods. That aspect makes it difficult to determine how much credit acupuncture deserves for the healing.

Many people have used acupuncture, yet not many people fully understand it. Perhaps because it’s still a taboo topic.

We were fascinated with this concept and wanted to explore it further, so we delved into the world of acupuncture to find out what it’s all about.

What is Acupuncture?

Medical treatment has always been expensive. People are continually looking for cheaper and more effective methods of health care.  

Invented by the Chinese, acupuncture is a form of treatment that entails inserting needles to various depths and specific points into a person’s skin.

It can be traced back to more than 2,500 years. This alternative method of treatment is based on the premise that the body contains patterns of energy flow, which is essential for health. The theory behind acupuncture is that disease forms when this energy flow is disrupted.

Acupuncture became a popular practice in the United States to treat identifiable pathophysiological conditions since 1972. Studies have concluded that it helps to relieve pain. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has stated that it found limited evidence of acupuncture’s effectiveness in other areas than pain.

Let’s find out what it entails?

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Chinese health practitioners claimed that health is the result of a harmonious balance of ying and yang of the life force known as qi. They claimed that qi flows through pathways in the human body. The body’s acupuncture points provide access to these pathways and energy flows.

How it scientifically works remains uncertain. Some people believe that it has a neurological effect while others think that it’s effective by balancing vital energy.

Numerous approaches to treatment and diagnosis exist, but the most common one involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needs—these are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation. 

The aim of inserting the needles is to balance a person’s energy, which boosts well-being and can cure some illnesses. 

Acupuncture points are considered to be places where muscles, nerves, and connective tissue can be stimulated. The stimulation triggers the body’s natural painkillers and increases blood flow. Scientific proof doesn’t exist that acupuncture points are real, but it’s also difficult to prove that it doesn’t. 

Evidence also suggests that acupuncture releases opioid peptides and analgesic effects are partially explained by their actions. Acupuncture stimulation can also activate the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. 

The Procedure

The first step is that the acupuncturist will examine the patient and determine their condition. The acupuncturist will ask the patient to lie down, whether on their side, back or stomach so that he or she can insert the needles.

For best-practices, the acupuncturist needs to use disposable, sterile, single-use needles. The patient will feel a tingling or stinging sensation when the needles enter his or her body.

In most cases, acupuncture is painless. Some acupuncturists choose to heat or stimulate the needles with electricity after inserting them. The needles will remain in the body from 5 to 30 minutes. The number of treatments necessary depends on the condition and the individual. Somebody with a serious condition might need up to two treatments a week for a few months.

Most people who have undergone acupuncture treatment have said that the needles cause very little to no pain when inserted. 

After the Procedure

The results of acupuncture vary from one person to another. Some people have reported feeling energized, while others feel relaxed after the treatment. You’ll know that acupuncture wasn’t successful for you if it hasn’t gotten rid of your symptoms within a few weeks after the treatment.

It can be difficult to measure the results, but many people have found it to be beneficial. One of the beliefs that some people have is that acupuncture works best for people who expect that it will work. In a way, the treatment is like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Acupuncture offers extra pain relief when people use it in conjunction with other therapy methods such as massage and pain medication. 

What Can it Help With?

Studies have shown that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of vomiting and nausea in adults after surgery. It’s also effective post-chemotherapy and operative dental pain. It can also relieve tension headaches, and migraines.

Here is what else it can help with.

  NCCIH has indicated that acupuncture can also help with: 

  •   Neck pain
  •   Knee pain
  •   Low back pain
  •   Osteoarthritis

  The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that it’s been effective with: 

  •   Painful periods
  •   High and low blood pressure
  •   Facial pain
  •   Dysentery
  •   Sprains
  •   Tennis elbow

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Development Program stated that acupuncture could be useful as an adjunct treatment with addiction, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma.

Studies have shown that 8 out of 10 people will suffer from back pain. That’s the number one reason that people seek acupuncture treatment. Research has found that acupuncture is an effective treatment for chronic low back pain. 

After 22 acupuncture studies, researchers proved that it provided greater pain relief than sham treatment. American Pain Society and American College of Physicians guidelines stipulate that doctors should consider acupuncture as an alternative treatment method for patients with lower back pain who didn’t see results from conventional methods.

Some people have claimed that acupuncture has helped them to get rid of their acne. Medical professionals who studied acupuncture and the results of patients who underwent the treatment stated that it mostly helped people who suffered from insomnia, migraine headaches, back pain, and anxiety.

How Acupuncture Helps 

Acupuncture practitioners believe that the effects of the treatment come from stimulating the central nervous system. These trigger the release of chemicals into the spinal cord, brain, and muscles. 

The chemicals are responsible for producing bodily changes that promote well-being or alter the experience of pain. 

Some of the other theories about how acupuncture works is that it triggers the release of natural opioids — chemicals in the brain that promote sleep or lessen pain.

What are the Risks?

Regardless of what treatment method you pursue, it contains risk. Acupuncture is not an exception. Always consult your doctor before deciding to pursue acupuncture as a treatment method.

Here are some of the risks associated with acupuncture.

Patients who have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinners might be putting themselves in harm’s way if they undergo the treatment. If an acupuncturist uses an unsterilized needle, it may negatively affect a patient.

During the insertion of the needles, some patients suffered from bruising, bleeding, and soreness. Although rare, it’s possible for the needle to break after the insertion and damage an internal organ. Another rare case is the risk of a collapsed lung when the acupuncturist inserts the needle too deep into the upper back or chest.

Another risk is that some types of acupuncture can stimulate labor, resulting in premature labor.

There have been a few cases of infections reported such as viral hepatitis—a serious liver infection. Some of the other reports were bacterial infections. In most cases, the reason for the infections was due to poor hygiene and training of the acupuncturist. 

That’s just one of the reasons it’s crucial to find a professional acupuncturist. 

How To Find an Acupuncturist?

Although many people consider acupuncture to be an alternative form of treatment, it is a serious procedure. That’s the reason a professional needs to deliver the treatment.

People who are interested in undergoing acupuncture should choose a licensed acupuncturist. The easiest way is to visit the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) website.

Many in the U.S. have made it compulsory for acupuncturists to be licensed by this board. The NCCIH stated that some insurance policies cover acupuncture, but individuals must check if it also covers the cost of the treatment.

Should You Do It?

As we’ve mentioned, acupuncture isn’t for everyone. People with certain conditions are at higher risk than others and can experience side effects.

Since the Chinese have practiced this treatment for more than 2,5000 years, that means it has worked for numerous people. We should note again that acupuncture is an alternative form of treatment and works best when combined with other therapy methods.

Acupuncture proved to be the most effective on patients who believed that it would work. Anybody who considers undergoing this treatment should consult their doctor about it and find a licensed practitioner. 

Research has shown that many people have experienced results, so it might work for you. The important thing is to find a professional who is hygienic and well trained to perform the treatment.

It might be worth looking into since it is cheaper than most conventional methods of getting rid of back pain, insomnia, and migraines. 

Most people have claimed that the needles going into their body don’t hurt and that this treatment triggers a tingly sensation when the needle touches the pressure points.

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