How does acupuncture work? Can acupuncture really ease pain, and also help with a host of other symptoms, such as depression, asthma, high blood pressure and even impotence? Does this form of alternative medicine really deliver?
Studies have shown that acupuncture can be a powerful aid not only in easing pain, but in helping to balance hormones, your metabolism and your nervous system to help with all sorts of disorders, from inability to lose weight to depression and arthritis.
So how does acupuncture work? When you insert acupuncure needles into your skin, you create tiny lesions.
Your immune system reacts and sends out anti-inflammatory agents. Your body also releases endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.
Because those tiny lesions take two to three days to heal, you may not experience the benefits of acupuncture right away.
So how does it work? To understand that, you have to understand a bit how pain works. When you are injured, your nerves send a message to your brain that there has been an injury. Your brain then sends a pain message. Pain is the brain's way of telling us to quit doing whatever is causing the injury.
With acupuncture, the needles are inserted in specific acupuncture points where sensory nerves or tissues supplied by the sensory nerves are located. This activates specific spinal neurons which in turn release specific endorphins and also inhibit pain messages to your brain, thereby easing pain.
Acupuncture stimulates what are known as homeostatic points in the body.
These points have been found to produce certain effects on the body, such as helping you relax or ease nausea.
There are other points in the body that normalize or balance your hormonal, metabolic and nervous systems.
Acupuncture can also help with weight gain, asthma, skin disorders and stress. Acupuncturists believe that inserting acupuncture needles into different key spots in the ear can influence your entire body and promote healing.
According to Brigitte Mars and Chrystle Fiedler, authors of the book, Holistic Health & Healing, an estimated 8.2 million Americans have used acupuncture to help with ailments including headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, arthritis pain and even asthma.
A study conducted at the University of Arizona found that in a test of women suffering from depression, 70 percent found relief through acupuncture.
Because of its ability to stimulate detoxification and encourage endorphin production, acupuncture has also been useful in helping with addictions.
To find an acupuncture practitioner in your area, contact the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.