If there’s one alternative therapy that most conventional physicians recommend to their patients, that would probably be acupuncture. Currently, acupuncture is being covered by lots of medical insurance providers. But what exactly is acupuncture and how does patients benefit from it?
Over the last decade, acupuncture seemed to gain a lot of traction from both the media and the medical field as a treatment that can seem to aid in most minor medical maladies; from simple headaches to menopausal hot flashes—you name it; acupuncture can probably help with it. In fact, acupuncture has been around for over 2000 years and is being well-practiced especially in the Orient.
Acupuncture is medical treatment which originated in early China, during the era of Confucianism and Taoism. The procedure itself is created with big emphasis on nature, which is a key ingredient to both aforementioned philosophies. It delves into the theory of how human bodies should always be in harmony and balance with nature. Ergo, acupuncture establishes its beliefs and concepts in the entire yin/yang system and the five elements of nature (earth, wind, fire, water, metal and wood).
The acupuncture techniques of course have evolved over time, but at present, treatment involves pushing a number of very fine needles through a person’s skin. Insertion is believed to target the anatomical areas or organs of the body where the “imbalance” lies. In acupuncture, the body is said to contain a total of 365 insertion sites which are all following the “meridians” or the 14 channels that connect the entire body together.
How does this work?
Theories abound as to how this procedure work, but no one is really certain.
However, one proposed method involves the release of endorphins after needle-insertion. Endorphins are often referred to as the body’s “happy hormones”. These chemicals are being released by the nervous system and send a feeling of “high” into your brain. It is said that the release of these chemicals is what combats the sensation of pain during an acupuncture session.
Though a lot of clinical research and trials have shown that acupuncture results may very well be reproduced by doing “sham” acupuncture, which means any results gotten from actual acupuncture may partially or even completely be from a placebo effect.
What can acupuncture treat?
There are a variety of medical dilemmas where acupuncture is said to be of big help and some those include:
- Acute and chronic pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Menopausal hot flashes
- Elevated blood pressure
- Seasonal allergies
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
If you want to try the process of acupuncture, make sure that you are referred to a licensed practitioner. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) or the American Board of Medical Acupuncture (ABMA) are usually the ones licensing those who are trained in this field.
Also, make sure that your acupuncturist is willing to work with you and your physician to attain your medical goals and not work as a separate entity. Don’t forget the needles! Since this procedure is a bit invasive, you need to make sure that the practitioner uses a sterile technique during the treatment.
Acupuncture is a great adjuvant therapy, but is not recommended to replace the modern and conventional ones you are currently on. For some, the effect may just be placebo, but really, it doesn’t matter as long it produces the desired effect it was used for.