Acupuncture is gaining popularity as an alternative form of medicine. During an acupuncture session, needles are inserted to different depths to target specific points. Recent research has found evidence that these treatments can address a wide range of conditions, including chronic pain and anxiety.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture is based on concepts that come from traditional Chinese medicine. In traditional Chinese acupuncture, specific points are stimulated with needles to restore the balance between the yin and yang that allows life force to flow through the patient.
This life force is called ‘qi’ (pronounced ‘chi’), and an imbalance can result in symptoms such as chronic pain or anxiety. It is believed that qi flows through vertical pathways and there are 350 different acupuncture points along these pathways.
Patients can experience several symptoms such as pain, depression, and chronic illnesses if qi can’t flow freely through these pathways. This results in an internal imbalance between yin and yang that can affect several areas of their lives.
The purpose of acupuncture is to help energy flow freely along these pathways and to restore the internal balance between yin and yang. This is an approach that focuses on the patient’s overall well-being rather than targeting specific symptoms.
What Does Research Say?
Even though there is a connection between acupuncture and Chinese medicine, Western practitioners usually have a slightly different approach that is based on medical research.
Some studies claim that acupuncture works because it has a placebo effect on the patient. Some research supports the fact that using needles could stimulate nerve endings. This results in a healthier nervous system, which is tied to overall well-being.
Researchers have found that acupuncture is an efficient way to treat chronic pain, nausea and that it can help with asthma and allergy symptoms.
In fact, acupuncture is now a common addition to cancer treatment plans in China and in Europe since it helps with symptoms like pain and nausea. This practice is gaining popularity in the U.S. as well.
Acupuncture is often recommended for patients who need to take a more holistic approach and address a wide range of symptoms tied to a chronic condition affecting several areas of their lives. Dealing with a recurring issue like chronic joint pain can affect mood, sleep, and result in other physical symptoms that can’t be addressed with traditional medical treatments.
There are still medical practitioners who discourage their patients from seeking acupuncture treatments, but this practice is gaining recognition in the medical community and more doctors are encouraging their patient to supplement a treatment plan with acupuncture sessions.
Different Types Of Acupuncture
If you want to find an acupuncturist in your area, it is important to gain a better understanding of the different types of acupuncture. You can then decide which treatment would be a good match for your symptoms and start looking for a specialist with the right background.
Traditional Chinese Acupuncture
This is the most common form of acupuncture. The practitioner will insert needles in your skin to target specific points and restore the internal balance between yin and yang.
This is the form of acupuncture that is most commonly studied in medical research.
Five Element Acupuncture
There are five seasons in China; Summer, Harvest, Fall, Winter, and Spring. These five seasons are connected to five elements, including wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.
Five element acupuncture is based on the idea that there is a balance between these five seasons and five elements inside of the human body. There are acupuncture points associated with each season and each element that will be targeted during these sessions.
This approach is similar to traditional Chinese acupuncture, but the points targeted will be in different locations.
This is a type of acupuncture where a low electric current is used to stimulate acupuncture points. Needles are inserted, and electricity is then used to stimulate the area rather than manipulating the needles. The advantage of this approach is that electrical stimulation can target a much broader area.
Korean acupuncture is based on the belief that there are 14 meridians running through your hands. Practitioners will target some of the 300 different points located in your hands and it is believed that each point is connected to a different internal organ.
The needles are much smaller, and they are often warmed up by burning medicinal herbs. The practitioner might also use cups to apply warmth to the skin.
Japanese acupuncture is often called meridian acupuncture. It is somewhat similar to traditional Chinese acupuncture, but the needles are a lot thinner.
The insertion of the needles is very shallow, and the practitioner often uses pressure to target specific points rather than needles.
If you are hesitant about receiving acupuncture treatments because of the needles, you should look for a professional who specializes in Japanese acupuncture. You can ask them to only use acupressure and might feel more comfortable with thinner needles and shallow insertions.
What Is Acupuncture Used For?
There is a growing list of medical conditions and symptoms for which acupuncture has been proven to work. More research is needed to prove that acupuncture is an effective treatment for some other conditions, but this approach is worth a try if you want to combine it with a more comprehensive treatment plan.
Can acupuncture help with your symptoms? Here is a list of medical issues that can be addressed thanks to acupuncture:
- Lower back pain.
- Neck pain.
- Knee pain.
- High blood pressure.
- Low blood pressure.
- Peptic ulcers.
- Tennis elbow.
There is conclusive evidence that suggests acupuncture can improve depression symptoms, stress, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms. In fact, a study found that acupuncture could reduce depression symptoms faster than antidepressants.
The Benefits Of Acupuncture
The main advantage of this alternative form of medicine is that there are no side effects and no risks. The FDA regulates the needles used. They are single use and sterilized.
Acupuncture allows you to address medical symptoms without exposing your body to prescriptions that contain chemicals. It can be difficult to predict what kind of side effects you will experience when you start a new treatment, so exploring alternatives is always worth it.
Acupuncture sessions can improve your overall well-being and strengthen your immune system. It can also help you manage symptoms that are affecting your life, such as chronic pain. Acupuncture for joint pain is an efficient way to address this chronic condition and makes chronic pain less likely to come back if you receive treatments regularly.
You can easily incorporate acupuncture into a treatment plan. This could help you manage a medical condition, alleviate some symptoms, and help you recover or heal faster. You should talk to your doctor about adding acupuncture to your current treatment plan if some of your symptoms are not being addressed by the treatments you are received at the moment.
You will be able to tell if acupuncture is helping with your symptoms after a couple of sessions. In fact, some patients report feeling a difference after their first session. Depending on the symptoms you are experiencing, you might need between two and six treatments, but some patients receive treatments on the long-term to manage chronic conditions.
What Is An Acupuncture Session Like?
A typical acupuncture session varies from one professional to another since there are different techniques used and acupuncturist can have different backgrounds.
Your acupuncturist will probably start by asking some questions to find out more about your symptoms and your overall health. A physical examination might be needed.
The acupuncturist will then use needles to target different points. Acupuncture points are located along meridians that run vertically through your body, so needles won’t be concentrated in a specific area unless you scheduled an appointment with a professional who practices Korean acupuncture.
Guide tubes are used to help with needle insertion. These tubes usually dull the area, so you shouldn’t feel the insertions at all.
Your acupuncturist will then stimulate different points. This can be done by heating the needles or by gently twisting them back and forth. Some acupuncturists use a low electric current to target a broader area.
You shouldn’t experience any pain during this process. Some patient report feeling a dull ache in the areas targeted, but there is no pain. If you feel anything, you should tell your acupuncturist right away. They won’t target the sensitive point again or might switch to thinner needles.
The needles will typically stay in your skin for 15 minutes. The entire session shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes. You won’t have any marks from the needles after the session.
Acupuncture is becoming a more accepted form of alternative medicine in the medical community. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests it is a relevant way to address a wide range of conditions and symptoms. You should talk to your doctor about incorporating acupuncture into your current treatment plan if you want to manage some symptoms more efficiently.