The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture has gained a lot of popularity in the Western world in recent years. There are good reasons for this, as acupuncture has been linked to many diverse health benefits. Still, a lot of people may shudder or cringe when they think about acupuncture treatments. The idea of tiny needles boring into your skin may be off-putting to many.
If this is you, it may be worth looking more deeply into everything acupuncture has to offer. When performed by a trained and experienced practitioner, acupuncture can be soothing and healing in a multitude of ways. It’s not just being stabbed with needles — the needles are gently inserted into specific points for healing purposes.
Acupuncture may be able to help heal more ailments than you may think. The following are six conditions that acupuncture may help remedy… conditions you may never have thought could improve with this practice.
Pain (even if it’s severe)
A body of research has found that acupuncture treatments can help to relieve various types of pain. It may even be used as a potent analgesic in emergency situations. A recent study published in the Medical Journal of Australia tested the effects of acupuncture on the pain levels of people who went to the emergency room for migraines, lower back pain and sprained ankles.
On the results of their study, the authors concluded,“The effectiveness of acupuncture in providing acute analgesia for patients with back pain and ankle sprain was comparable with that of pharmacotherapy.”
Another recent study, performed by researchers at the University of York in England, tested the effects of acupuncture on both chronic pain and depression. For the depression portion of the study, just over 750 people suffering from depression were provided with both counseling and acupuncture treatments, with some highly positive results. According to Professor Hugh MacPherson:
“The frontline treatment for depression in primary care usually involves antidepressants; however, they do not work well for more than half of patients… In the largest study of its kind, we have now provided a solid evidence base to show that not only can acupuncture and counseling bring patients out of an episode of depression, but it can keep the condition at bay for up to a year on average.”
For the record, the chronic pain part of the study has positive results, as well.
A 2015 study performed by researchers at the University of California, Irvine surveyed how acupuncture treatments affected people with hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Results showed that 70 percent of study participants experienced significant drops in blood pressure after the treatments, and that these effects lasted for up to 45 days after the study.
On these results, cardiologist Dr. John Longhurst started:
“By using Western scientific rigor to validate an ancient Eastern therapy, we feel we have integrated Chinese and Western medicine and provided a beneficial guideline for treating a disease that affects millions in the U.S… Because electroacupuncture decreases both peak and average systolic blood pressure over 24 hours, this therapy may decrease the risk for stroke, peripheral artery disease, heart failure and myocardial infarction in hypertensive patients.”
Fibromyalgia is a disease characterized by chronic pain of the musculoskeletal system. It can be accompanied by stiff joints, trouble sleeping, and lingering fatigue. Acupuncture may be able to help. A 2006 study performed by the Mayo Clinic found that fibromyalgia patients experienced significantly positive results from acupuncture treatments. According to lead author, Dr. David Martin:
“The results of the study convince me there is something more than the placebo effect to acupuncture. It affirms a lot of clinical impressions that this complementary medical technique is helpful for patients.”
Due to age, immobility or a number of diseases, the muscles of our skeletal systems can atrophy over time. A 2012 mouse study published in the journal FASEB has found that acupuncture treatments may help to prevent this from occurring. According to Akiko Onda of the Waseda University School of Sports Sciences:
“Our results have uncovered one molecular mechanism responsible for the efficacy of acupuncture treatment and clarified its usefulness in preventing skeletal muscle atrophy in mice. We hope to introduce acupuncture as a new strategy for preventing skeletal muscle atrophy in the future. Further investigations into its molecular mechanisms will help to decrease the medical community’s suspicion of acupuncture and provide us with a better understanding of how acupuncture treatment prevents skeletal muscle atrophy.”
During menopause and perimenopause, many women experience uncomfortable hot flashes. A 2016 study performed by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that acupuncture treatments helped to reduce hot flashes by about 50 percent for about half of the women in the study. According to the study’s lead author, Nancy Avis:
“Women bothered by hot flashes and night sweats may want to give acupuncture a try as a relatively low-cost, low-risk treatment. Women will know pretty quickly if acupuncture will work for them. Women who had a reduction in their hot flashes saw a benefit beginning after about three to four weeks of weekly treatments.”
Have you ever tried acupuncture? What is the strangest condition that you have found this practice to improve?
— Tanya Mead