Used for more than 2,500 years all over the world to improve the body’s functions and stimulate natural self-healing processes, acupuncture is currently one of the most popular complementary treatment options in the US. Almost 40 percent of adults and children have used alternative therapies, according to an NCCAM study, and a large part of what was once considered alternative is now included in many holistic treatment regimens provided by hospitals and healthcare facilities in the US.
Most of the people who resort to acupuncture on a regular basis – about 3 million adults every year – do so to treat pain-related conditions and prevent disease. In reality, inserting needles into specific points along certain pathways in the body has been found to provide relief and correct a range of health problems that disrupt people’s lives. Here are 5 specific ways in which acupuncture can improve your daily life.
#1. Acupuncture can ease your throbbing headache.
Acupuncture treatments have long been used to relieve chronic pain, but it was only recently that this therapy has taken a foothold in medical communities, as more doctors and patients are looking to alternative solutions to migraine pain. With basically none of the risks and side effects associated with conventional care, acupuncture stimulates the release of neurotransmitters that decrease painful sensations and works to regulate pain centers in the brain.
As a result of receiving acupuncture sessions during a three-month period, migraine patients participating in a controlled, randomized study reported (compared to the control group):
- 22 fewer days with headaches
- 25% fewer visits to a doctor
- 15% fewer days off sick from work
- 15% less medication
In related studies, researchers found that acupuncture is not only effective for migraines, but also has positive effects for tension headaches, cluster headaches, headaches caused by trauma, and various disease-related headaches, such as those caused by sinus infections and sleeping disorders.
#2. Acupuncture can help prevent PMS symptoms.
Research shows acupuncture is highly effective at treating PMS and its wide range of nasty symptoms that include cramps, bloating, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, mood swings, appetite changes, acne, poor concentration, and acute headaches. Although further studies are needed to reveal exactly how it works, doctors believe acupuncture may increase circulation and stabilize hormonal fluctuations by removing energy blockages, in turn enhancing mood and alleviating pain. Most women who undergo acupuncture report PMS relief within 24 hours after a session, so you may schedule a visit once a month in the week before menstruation.
#3. Acupuncture can help you sleep better.
Certain acupuncture procedures have a nearly 90 percent success rate for the treatment of insomnia. Through a complex series of signals to the brain, acupuncture elevates endorphin levels, such as serotonin, which promote relaxation and sleep. Auricular acupuncture, in particular, has been found especially effective in reducing symptoms of insomnia, such as:
- Waking up easily during the night
- Waking up at a specific time during the night
- Having a dream-disturbed sleep
- Having difficulty falling asleep
- Experiencing persistent sleepiness despite adequate sleep
Acupuncture for sleep disorders can be used in conjunction with chiropractic care and wellness adjustments to improve the blood flow in the nervous system and improve the quality of sleep.
#4. Acupuncture can clear your seasonal allergies.
Symptoms of running nose, itching, watery eyes, wheezing, and sneezing that recur during specific periods of the year (especially spring and autumn) are a cause of much suffering for a large segment of the US population. About 26 million Americans suffer from chronic seasonal allergies, while the number of people who exhibit milder sensitivity to allergens may be as high as 50 million.
While conventional treatments for seasonal allergies including antihistamines, nasal steroids, and decongestants may provide varying degrees of relief, none is 100 percent effective, and most can cause unwanted side effects. In contrast, acupuncture relieves allergy symptoms immediately through the manipulation of trigger points around the nose, clearing nasal congestion and sneezing as soon as needles are inserted into the skin.
#5. Acupuncture can slim you down.
Using acupuncture to control weight is based on the premise that weight gain is often the result of disrupted energy flow to and from the hypothalamus, the regulating center of the brain responsible for the production of many of the essential substances that help maintain the functional balance of the body. This area of the brain regulates hormones and neurochemicals that govern physiologic functions such as body temperature, mood, sleep, thirst, and hunger.
By influencing hormone levels that regulate fat storage and metabolism, acupuncture can boost weight control by curbing appetite and cravings, speeding up metabolism, improving digestion, and enhancing the way nutrients are used in the body. The therapy also improves liver function, the organ responsible for producing chemicals critical for digestion and the breakdown of fats.
By balancing the flow of energy and stimulating nerves, muscles, and tissue to increase blood flow and boost the body’s natural painkillers, acupuncture can improve your health from head to toe. A certified and well-recommended acupuncturist can assess your current condition and create a customized treatment plan that addresses the underlying cause of disease as well as the symptoms. He may also assist you in the prevention against illness and disease, as well as in maintaining overall health and wellbeing.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.