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Does Acupuncture Work? Look Beyond What Western Medicine Tells You

chinaAs you might know, acupuncture is a big part of the Eastern medicine and was established as means of regulating the flow of body energy called Qi (chee). By stimulating specific points on human body through the use of thin needles, acupuncture helps move Qi, which in turn helps relieve pain and solve many other health issues.

If you are skeptical about trying acupuncture, we understand why you might be unsure about how acupuncture works. Highly respected and practiced in the East for thousands of years, acupuncture has been introduced to the Western world less than a century ago and is mostly misunderstood and misinterpreted by Western doctors who have no frame of reference of Qi or acupuncture points.

When you do your own research, consider both sides of the story

There is plenty of information about acupuncture on the web. However, most articles you’ll find are written by Western scientists or researchers and describe acupuncture from the point of view of the Western medicine, trying to measure and evaluate it scientifically. To see both perspectives, you would have to dig a bit deeper. Here are a few resources to help you better understand Eastern medicine in general and acupuncture in particular:

What you might not know about acupuncture in the U.S.

  • Acupuncture has been practiced in China for several centuries and in U.S. for over 50 years, but only in 1997 was it formally recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a mainstream medicine.
  • Today, there are over 60 acupuncture schools in the U.S. accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).
  • A Master’s Degree is a must and the first step for every professional acupuncturist in the U.S.
  • U.S. Military uses battlefield acupuncture (BFA) to treat anything from injuries to PTSD.

What studies of acupuncture tell us

Acupuncture doesn’t heal all known diseases and doesn’t have the same effect on every person, but there are many relieved people and scientific studies that prove that acupuncture works for many health conditions. We’ve put together a list of a few most recent studies and their findings.

Acupuncture is effective for treating chronic pain

Whether it’s lower back pain, migraines or arthritis caused by the old age, injury or a chronic disease, many studies have shown that acupuncture is able to provide both short and long-term pain relief.  Although the specific effects of needle insertion along the Qi channels can only be speculated about, many patients report a noticeable drop in chronic pain levels, with pain episodes becoming less frequent over the course of several treatments.

Use acupuncture to reduce nausea and vomiting

Acupuncture is often recommended as a complementary therapy to help reduce nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.  The evidence gathered from over 20 years of clinical studies has shown that acupuncture and acupressure help better control nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Other studies have also indicated that acupuncture may be beneficial for managing postoperative nausea and vomiting, as well as morning sickness during pregnancy.

Acupuncture as infertility treatment

Acupuncture doesn’t reverse infertility, but, as proven by several studies, short acupuncture sessions conducted immediately prior to and after the IVF (in vitro fertilization) procedure can help increase the likelihood of pregnancy.  Although not extensively researched beyond the IVF procedure, acupuncture may also help improve sperm production in men and ovarian function in women.

Get relief for carpal tunnel syndrome with acupuncture

Acupuncture is just as effective in relieving certain unpleasant carpal tunnel symptoms as steroids, according to this study.  In patients with mild to moderate carpal tunnel, acupuncture treatments helped minimize pain and weakness and improve motor function. Especially consider acupuncture for CTS if you experience unpleasant side effects from medication and surgery is not an option.

Acupuncture treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee

Knee osteoarthritis is a rather unpleasant condition that causes stiffness, pain and reduced knee function. It is also very common, especially in people 65 and older. There have been multiple studies on benefits of acupuncture for patients with knee osteoarthritis, and all of them, including the most recent one, showed some data in favor of acupuncture. Just one month of acupuncture treatments has been found to both reduce pain and improve knee function in most patients. After the first month of frequent sessions, patients switched to one treatment every six weeks and kept experiencing benefits.

About the Placebo Effect

The effects and efficiency of acupuncture have been studied by the Western scientists for a while now, but not all studies are conclusive. Scientists claim that placebo effect may play a role in the success of the treatment for some acupuncture patients. Some patients who received “sham acupuncture,” which usually involves insertion of needles in random spots or incomplete insertion, also reported relief of their symptoms.

Besides the placebo effect, this can be explained by the belief that the whole body (not just the meridians and commonly used points) is made of energy.  All energy, both inside and outside of the body, is connected, so when energy is moved anywhere, we notice a difference.

Placebo effect means that you should never underestimate the power of the mind when it comes to healing your body. Directly or indirectly, acupuncture can help (and has helped) many people reduce pain, improve their quality of life and cut down the number of medications they have to take.

What is stopping you from trying acupuncture?

The fact is, no matter how well you research, you won’t know for sure until you try it. We invite you to attend one of our Pain-Free Sundays and witness in person how acupuncture works before making a commitment. You’ll get a chance to experience acupuncture, as well as have all your questions answered by Cara-Michele, a licensed acupuncturist with years of experience.

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