Does acupuncture work?
What is acupuncture
Acupuncture is the practice of inserting fine needles into the skin at specific points to treat disease or pain. Acupuncture is believed to have originated around 100 BC in China, which is similar to the time when The Inner Classic of Huang Di (Huangdi Neijing 黄帝内经) was published, but some experts believe it may have existed earlier. A body’s “rhythm” and the effect of lunar, celestial and earthly cycles on treatment effectiveness have been debated for years. It was aimed to balance the body’s energy, stimulate healing, and promote relaxation.
How it is done
Acupuncture points are said to be on meridians, which carry vital energy. This energy is qi or chi. In ancient Chinese medicine, Qi was believed to flow from the body’s primary organs (zàng-fǔ, 脏腑) to the “superficial” body tissues (skin) via meridians. In TCM, the disease is viewed as an energetic imbalance between the body and the environment. Acupuncturists will insert one or more thin, sterile, single-use needles and advise on self-care or other complementary therapies, such as Chinese herbs. For needle insertion, the patient is asked to lie in any position based on the desired part to treat. Each needle may cause a brief stinging or tingling sensation. After the needle is inserted, a dull ache at the needle’s base subsides. Acupuncture is generally painless. After insertion, the needles may be heated or electrically stimulated. The needles will stay in for 5-30 minutes. The number of treatments required varies. A chronic condition may require one to two treatments per week for months. Acute problems usually improve in 8-12 sessions.
How it is beneficial for health
No evidence exists for qi, meridians, or yin and yang. Acupuncture points are thought to stimulate our central nervous system. Acupuncture may trigger the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins. Acupuncture needle placement may affect breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. These biochemical changes may promote physical and emotional health.
Generally, acupuncture can help relieve pain, nausea, digestive issues, and stress. Studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have shown that acupuncture is effective alone or in combination with other treatments for nausea caused by surgical anaesthesia and cancer chemotherapy, dental pain after surgery, addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma, also helps people during stroke rehabilitation. In January 2020, David Gorski analyzed a synthesis of systematic reviews on acupuncture for chronic pain (“Acupuncture for the Relief of Chronic Pain: A Synthesis of Systematic Reviews”). Gorski concluded in Science-Based Medicine that acupuncture is “a theatrical placebo whose real history has been retconned beyond recognition.”
Acupuncture boosts your body’s natural melatonin production. This hormone regulates your sleep-wake cycles. Due to our modern lifestyle and poor sleep habits, it is often underproduced, resulting in insomnia, frequent night awakenings, or constant exhaustion. If this continues for a long time, it can lead to other health issues. Acupuncture can help you fall and stay asleep naturally again.
While acupuncture is not a miracle cure-all, it appears to be a worthwhile treatment for people with multiple conditions and illnesses.
An acupuncturist who uses clean needle technique and single-use needles is generally safe. It has a low rate of side effects, mostly minor. Accidents and infections do occur and are linked to practitioner negligence, particularly in the use of sterile techniques. The other risks in acupuncture include those with bleeding or coagulation disorders or regularly consuming blood thinners and over penetration of needles leading to organ damages and lung collapse, rarely.
Overall, acupuncture is good as complementary medicine, but not an excuse for escaping treatment when your condition is symptomatic and causes a dysfunctional routine. There are pros and cons. Therefore, you are encouraged to get some professional advice from health personnel who will assess your symptoms, medical history, and overall health to help determine if acupuncture is right for you before initiating this treatment series. Doctoroncall