Have you been curious about acupuncture but never tried it? During World Acupuncture Week, from Nov. 16-22, and beyond, you can learn about the array of benefits that this ancient Chinese practice offers.
Acupuncture has the potential to reduce pain, mitigate arthritis, soothe indigestion, dull headaches and many more benefits. It has been gaining momentum in mainstream Western culture, too. Even Harvard Medical School said, "Acupuncture is worth a try for chronic pain."
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves inserting hair-thin metal needles superficially through the skin at certain points on the body to relieve pain or bodily function. This is thought to correct imbalances in the flow of energy in the body, called qi (pronounced "chee"). Scientifically speaking, acupuncture is believed to ease pain by affecting neurotransmitters, the immune system and the hormone levels.
Without a doubt, the main reason people visit an acupuncture clinic is to try to lower the amount of pain they have. While the effectiveness of acupuncture has been widely debated, scientific literature suggests its benefits are real.
What Science Says
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, patients reported that acupuncture lowered chronic pain by 15 percent compared to sham (fake acupuncture) and no acupuncture. Their symptoms lessened for back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache and shoulder pain.
The researchers concluded, "Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option."
A separate study from Brazilian researchers showed the acupuncture therapy alleviated heartburn and indigestion in pregnant women. While one group of pregnant women was given a combination of acupuncture and medications, another group received classes on dietary changes and medications if needed. The results highlighted that 75 percent of the women in the acupuncture had a decline in heartburn intensity and antacid use, whereas only 44 percent of women in other group had the same effects.
What's more, a review of more than 20 studies involving acupuncture therapy, migraines and tension headaches suggested that regular acupuncture therapy was effective at preventing migraines and tension headaches from becoming a problem.
Plus, unlike most modern medications, there are hardly any reported side effects with acupuncture.
Growing Alternative Medicine
About 3 million American adults receive acupuncture every year, according to JAMA. Harvard recommends that for people who are just beginning this healing treatment, plan on weekly treatment until they start to see a benefit, then lengthen the time until the next visit is needed. A full assessment from you local practitioner followed by a course of treatment over weeks may be what you need to get you on the road to recovery.
Even if you've missed the week-long celebrations, you can partake in acupuncture. Search for a trusted, certified provider at the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine or by calling the organization at 904-598-1005.
Have you ever tried acupuncture? Did you see any benefits?