Acupuncture: What It Is and What are its Benefits

Has your doctor ever prescribed acupuncture as a medicine for any condition? Probably not. Generally, alternative treatments receive little attention because some doctors are not aware that science proves that they really are effective alternatives to drugs and medications. Keep reading and know more about acupuncture.

What is acupuncture?

The acupuncture is a group of ancient Chinese medical procedures involving stimulation of anatomical locations on or in the skin by a variety of techniques, in most cases, thin metal needles. These needles are inserted anatomically into defined locations in the body, which affects the function of the same. Acupuncturists claim that these points correspond to the areas on the surface of the body that have a greater electrical conductance.

Western acupuncture incorporates medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea and other countries. The most studied mechanism is the stimulation of acupuncture points, which, as previously mentioned, uses the penetration of the skin by means of metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.

Benefits of Acupuncture

Chronic pain is certainly one of the most common reasons why people seek acupuncture therapy, but here are other reasons scientifically studied that this technique can alleviate.

Increases fertility

Acupuncture seems to be a useful tool to improve the pregnancy rate. This technique can reduce stress hormones that promote infertility, increase blood flow to the uterus (this helps to have a thick uterine wall, making fertility easier), regulate the menstrual cycle making family planning easier. The acupuncture also helps women suffering from a hormonal imbalance called polycystic ovary syndrome and also strengthens the immune system, preventing disease and weakness that can reduce the chances of fertility.

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Relieves back pain

The use of acupuncture therapy to relieve chronic back pain is one of the main reasons why people visit the clinics that perform this method. Acupuncture not only causes the body to release natural painkillers, it can also change the perception of a patient’s pain, thus relieving symptoms.

Relieves stress, anxiety, and depression

Acupuncture treatments targeting different parts of the body can relieve different types of stress, anxiety, and depression by increasing the efficiency of medications.

A study in China found that a low dose of fluoxetine (Prozac) combined with acupuncture therapy was as effective in reducing anxiety in patients receiving treatment for depression as the same full dose of medication. The addition of acupuncture also reduces the side effects of the drug, which may include nausea, weight gain, difficulty maintaining the erection, delayed ejaculation and a decrease in sexual appetite.

Improves digestion

According to research in Brazil, acupuncture therapy relieves heartburn and indigestion in pregnant women. The researchers combined acupuncture and medicines in a group of pregnant women, and another group changed their diet and medications to administer if necessary. In the course of the study, 75% of women in the acupuncture group who had intense heartburn noticed great improvement, while only 44% of women in the standard treatment group saw these same effects.

Counteract the side effects of radiation

Patient’s cancer undergoing radiation treatment is prone to a variety of side effects, depending on the body part being treated. However, it has been found that acupuncture may have some effect on the perception of the severity of these effects, particularly for nausea and dry mouth, common conditions in some patients receiving radiation therapy.

On the other hand, the American Cancer Society found that people receiving radiation treatment perceived fewer negative side effects of radiation, although side effects may still be there. Acupuncture does not relieve symptoms, but it does help improve the patient’s quality of life after treatment.

Counteract the headaches

Regular acupuncture therapy is effective to prevent or reduce the intensity of tension headaches (tension headaches) and migraines. This technique is also an effective treatment for existing or persistent headaches for days.

According to studies, the needles seem to send signals to the brain to adjust the levels of these neurotransmitters. Studies in people with frequent tension headaches found that almost half of the patients who received acupuncture had a 50 percent decrease in the number of days they had headaches, compared with 16 percent in the participants Receiving analgesics and other routine care.

Improves overall health and well-being

Instead of visiting a spa and/or getting a massage, you can choose to use acupuncture to improve your overall well-being and as a preventive health measure. With this technique, it strengthens your immune system while giving you a sense of wellbeing helping you in times of stress at work or with the family, to continue with your life and enjoy it much better.

Calms injuries to the body

One study found that people with chronic tendinitis or arthritis who had acupuncture sessions 20 minutes twice a week for 6 weeks had less pain and disability. In addition to these two conditions, acupuncture also treats ankle sprains, muscle pain, tendinitis, etc.

Could end up with obesity

The influence of acupuncture therapy on obesity is not well documented (there are not enough studies) like the other previous points, so there is not enough evidence to suggest that it could be an effective treatment to help lose weight.

After analyzing 31 studies with a total of 3013 people, some research in Korea found that acupuncture therapy led to a greater decrease in body weight than lifestyle changes or medications. However, they noted in their findings that flaws in many of the studies made it difficult to accurately see the efficacy of acupuncture therapy on obesity in the long run. However, for people who want to try it, adding a weekly acupuncture session, daily exercise, and a nutritious diet, could lead to healthy gains.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the risks associated with acupuncture are minimal, as long as the acupuncturist who performs the procedure is a qualified professional. Not everyone is a good candidate for the procedure, if you have pacemakers or have coagulation disorders you may want to find an alternative treatment.

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