Acupuncture has been used successfully in the treatment of conditions ranging from nausea, migraines, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, musculoskeletal problems such as back pain, neck pain, sprains, strains, sciatica, nerve pain due to compression, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, pain resulting from spinal cord injuries, osteoarthritis, facial tics, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, asthma, bronchitis, allergies, sinusitis, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), sore throat, high blood pressure, gastroesophageal reflux (felt as heartburn or indigestion), constipation, diarrhea, spastic colon (often called irritable bowel syndrome), ulcers, chronic bladder and kidney infections, incontinence, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, endometriosis, anorexia, memory problems, insomnia, drug and alcohol detoxification, depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders and stroke rehabilitation.
Acupuncture may also increase blood circulation and body temperature, affect white blood cell activity (responsible for our immune function), reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and regulate blood sugar levels.
You can safely combine acupuncture with prescription drugs and other conventional treatments, but it is important for your primary care physician to be aware of and monitor how your acupuncture treatment may be affecting your conventional therapies.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is a natural treatment based on Chinese medicine — a system of healing that dates back thousands of years. At the core of Chinese medicine is the notion that a type of life force, or energy, known as qi (pronounced “chee”) flows through energy pathways (meridians) in the body.
Each meridian corresponds to one organ, or group of organs, that governs particular bodily functions. Achieving the proper flow of qi is thought to create health and wellness. According to Chinese medicine, everything in nature has both yin and yang. An imbalance of qi (too much, too little,
or blocked flow) causes disease. To restore balance to the qi, an acupuncturist inserts needles at points along the meridians. These acupuncture points are places where the energy pathway is close to the surface of the skin.
The effects of acupuncture are complex. Research suggests that acupuncture techniques stimulate nerve fibers that transmit signals to the spinal cord and brain, activating the body’s central nervous system. The spinal cord and brain then release hormones responsible for making us feel less pain while improving overall health.