If you are considering acupuncture as a treatment, it is helpful to understand how acupuncture benefits the body. Acupuncture is not a new treatment modality, in fact, it is rooted in thousands of years of traditional Chinese medicine. Recently, acupuncture is gaining momentum in the Western world as a popular alternative medical intervention, helping countless people manage painful and troubling symptoms.
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Acupuncture involves the strategic placement of very thin, almost hair-like needles through the skin at strategic points on the body. Traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as chi or qi (chee) — believed to flow through pathways, or meridians, of the body.
Today’s practitioners use acupuncture to promote healing for a variety of conditions that impact people every day. Here are some of the top ways that acupuncture benefits the body, and helps people manage physical and emotional challenges:
10 Ways Acupuncture Benefits the Body
Acupuncture Benefit #1: Stress Relief
Acupuncture can stimulate the release of endorphins which are known as the natural “feel good” chemicals of the body. The treatment can also impact breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure by affecting the autonomic nervous system. This is where our “fight or flight” response lives, so utilizing acupuncture for stress relief can nurture a calmer, more stress-free state of being, by slowing down our sympathetic responses. Many patients find that after treatment, they feel more relaxed and stress-free.
Acupuncture Benefit #2: Headache Relief
Acupuncture benefits include a decrease in the frequency and intensity of headaches. Regardless of whether headaches are of a migraine or tension origin, acupuncture can prompt pain relief, muscular relaxation, and an improved sense of well-being.
Acupuncture Benefit #3: Improved Sleep
When the body’s energy is balanced and flowing, many people find that they can fall asleep better and stay asleep longer. Scientific studies show that acupuncture has a beneficial effect on insomnia as compared to western medicine interventions. Participants treated with acupuncture had significantly better sleep duration and quality than those with no treatment.
Because sleep is such a critical component of our overall health, enhancing sleep quality and duration can have a subsequent positive impact on other health conditions.
Acupuncture Benefit #4: Increased Energy
Acupuncture is associated with elevated energy levels, particularly post-treatment when the biochemical release is at a maximal level. Historically, the energy life forces, yin and yang, course within the meridians. Yin is more aligned with passivity and absorption, where yang is activity. The belief that acupuncture helps move Qi through the body is deep in the roots of Chinese medicine. Certainly, many people today report feeling more energized and active after treatment.
Acupuncture Benefit #5: Enhanced Healing
Treating acupuncture points stimulates the central nervous system, which in turn releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. This cascade of biochemicals may help stimulate the body’s natural healing. Also, the needle itself initiates some increased blood flow to the localized area, as noted by a slight increase in redness around the insertion. Because blood carries the nutrients needed to heal injury, and flush out the painful areas of the body, acupuncture promotes a positive response in injured tissue.
Acupuncture Benefit #6: Relief from Muscle and Joint Pain
Acupuncture can effectively manage pain associated with sore muscles and joints by promoting the release of the body’s natural painkillers. The needles can also help to decrease muscle tightness by relaxing tender points and increasing localized muscular blood flow. In acute injury, such as a sprain, acupuncture may help promote a healing response in the tissues.
Acupuncture Benefit #7: Chronic Pain Management
Patients dealing with chronic pain often feel discouraged when traditional treatments fail to bring adequate relief. Chronic pain patients are more prone to depression and reliance on pharmaceuticals for day-to-day functioning. It is also shown that acupuncture and regenerative medicine benefit patients dealing with chronic pain, creating a clinically relevant effect that is long-lasting.
Acupuncture Benefit #8: Nausea Relief
Acupuncture has proven positive impacts on nausea by decreasing acid secretion in the upper GI tract and increasing endorphins in certain areas of the brain. Treated patients tend to experience less severe nausea no matter what the underlying cause of nausea: morning sickness associated with pregnancy, motion sickness, post-op nausea, or chemotherapy-related nausea.
Acupuncture Benefit #9: Management of Labor Pain/Menstrual Cramps
Most women report a decrease in the intensity of labor pains, or menstrual cramps when treated effectively with acupuncture. There is also a growing body of evidence that acupuncture is an effective means of stimulating labor in full-term pregnant women, by softening and dilating the cervix. The mechanism may be related to hormonal release and nervous system changes.
Acupuncture Benefit #10: Dental Pain Management
Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective adjunct to pain control for patients in acute dental pain. The treatment stimulates the nervous system, creating a release of endorphins and serotonin into the body, promoting natural analgesia. Acupuncture can be helpful in cases of dental nerve pain, TMJ disorders, and to address dental anxiety.
Acupuncture: Benefits of a Typical Session
A typical acupuncture session begins with a comprehensive evaluation of your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle. Most practitioners will inspect any specifically painful body parts, and areas related to your symptoms. An acupuncturist may want to check your tongue or pulse and gather information on somebody’s systems like digestion, emotions, or sleep.
Before initiating treatment, the practitioner will explain what to expect during the session and answer any questions you might have. Treatment usually involves 5-20 needles inserted with little to no discomfort. Some patients do feel a mild aching when the needle reaches its target depth. Needles may remain in place for 10-20 minutes or be intermittently manipulated depending on the specific treatment goal. Manipulation includes twirling, gently moving, or applying mild electrical impulses to the needles.
A common treatment plan for a targeted complaint would include 1-2 sessions per week, with a duration of care dependent on the severity of the symptoms and other factors. You will likely need a few weeks of treatment, although each case is unique. While many people experience symptom resolution quickly, others seek acupuncture as part of a long-term care plan, for example, to keep stress levels down over time.
Comprehensive Acupuncture Benefits of Today
The good news is that because acupuncture and alternative medicine are becoming increasingly available, more people can benefit from these advanced treatments. The best advice is to find a trusted, experienced professional, who can be your partner in symptom management and treatment.
If you are struggling with pain, or any issues listed above, you may want to have any in our Functional Medicine team or Chiropractic Care to help you. Take the first step in your journey towards optimal health and wellness, by scheduling a consultation to find out our alternatives can help, comfortably, and for the long term. Of course, if you’re in the New York City area, we invite you to visit Physio Logic in Brooklyn, NY. To schedule your visit, give us a call or start by filling out the form below.