A Sample of conditions in which Acupuncture has proven efficacy in randomized placebo-controlled trials:
- Orthopedic pain such as low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, and thoracic pain
- Minor depressive episodes
- Smoking cessation
- PMS symptoms
- Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Acupuncture. . . .
Acupuncture has been utilized for 4000-5,000 years and traditionally is a comprehensive system of medicine used to treat virtually any disease or dysfunction. In Western medicine, acupuncture has mostly become known for its effectiveness in decreasing pain, and for its ability to induce relaxation and bring the body back into balance.
Acupuncture is a technique involving the insertion of fine needles into the skin at certain points to free the flow of energy through meridians of the body. This energy, known as qi, is considered the very essence of life in traditional Chinese Medicine and must flow freely through body to maintain health and for the body to remain pain-free. The lack of proper qi flow in the system results in numerous diseases and dysfunction, with stagnation often manifesting as pain.
Additionally, acupuncture brings the body back into equilibrium through the balance of yin and yang. In a simplified explanation, yin represents “cold and lethargic” signs and symptoms, and yang represents “hot and restless” signs and symptoms. Acupuncture points are chosen based on signs and symptoms of an imbalance along with signs of qi obstruction.
Acupuncture. . . . The Western Explanation
As acupuncture has become more popular in the U.S., many placebo-controlled studies have been completed that confirm that acupuncture has measurable physiological effects on the body.
The following are just a few of the measurable benefits of acupuncture:
- Increased hypophyseal production of beta-endorphins: endorphins are chemicals in the body that block pain signals (these are the “feel-good” chemicals that are also released by exercise).
- Increased blood flow to the areas of needling: the blood flow to the area brings much needed oxygen and nutrients to assist in healing, as well as hormones in the blood know as cytokines that act as chemical messengers to begin a healing cascade. This induction of healing is likely a major contributor in acupuncture’s effectiveness in decreasing local areas of pain such as low back pain, knee pain, and neck pain.• Increased production of certain messenger hormones in the body including melatonin and seratonin: Melatonin is the hormone released naturally by our bodies at night, allowing for relaxation and sleep. This physiological effect is a likely contributor to acupuncture’s effectiveness in sleep disturbance, anxiety, and stress-reduction. Seratonin is involved in daytime energy and anti-depression, and is likely how acupuncture is effective in mood and energy enhancement.
• Modulation of the Central Nervous System: MRI studies have shown physiological responses to acupuncture points in comparison to sham points. This proven effect of acupuncture on the brain itself is likely responsible for many of the results of the treatment that we can’t yet explain.