There has been an observable shift in people’s willingness to look beyond traditional western medicine toward complementary medicine. Acupuncture is one of the most popular complementary healing techniques and research is showing it can help treat a large number of illnesses and ailments. It involves inserting fine needles at specific acupuncture points from head to toe. These points fall along “meridians,” many of which are connected energetically to the organs and often run along specific nerve and muscle pathways. Via these meridians, acupuncture has the potential to influence the immune system, gastrointestinal tract, endocrine system and blood circulation.
There is an abundance of scientific literature about the many health conditions that can benefit from acupuncture. Here’s a brief look at a few with strong research:
- Chronic and acute pain: Acupuncture has been studied extensively for pain relief, especially for back pain. In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians included acupuncture in its guidelines for treating low back pain. By stimulating the body’s own pain-fighting hormones (aka “endogenous opioids”), acupuncture brings relief for conditions like knee osteoarthritis, shoulder pain, neck problems, carpal tunnel syndrome and more. It’s now being included in treatment options for chronic pain as a way to minimize addiction to opioids.
- Infertility: Traditional Chinese medicine—using acupuncture, herbs, cupping and moxibustion as well as lifestyle recommendations—has been used to treat women’s health and fertility problems for centuries. More and more studies are showing how a course of “whole systems” acupuncture treatment (e.g., 12 weeks) can significantly impact pregnancy rates during assisted reproductive techniques (ART).
- Migraines: Migraines are challenging because they can stem from so many different causes but that’s where TCM excels. Because we look at each patient individually, we can determine exactly what’s contributing to the problem. Even the American Migraine Foundation suggests acupuncture as a potential treatment as a way to reduce discomfort and frequency. Large studies have found that acupuncture may be at least as effective as prescription drugs in treating migraines—but with virtually no negative side effects.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism (aka “low thyroid”), with signs and symptoms such as fatigue, dry skin, decreased concentration, constipation, thinning hair, depression, memory issues, is a very common condition that can severely impact quality of life. It’s most often caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. TCM practitioners often use acupuncture, herbs, moxibustion and gua sha to treat signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. At least one study found that moxibustion (a type of heat therapy using Artemisia, or mugwort, on specific acupuncture points) could lower levels of thyroid antibodies.
If you are interested in learning more about acupuncture, how it can help with fertility, or any of the above condition, please contact Janet Lee, L.Ac., DACM, Dipl. OM at 917-855-1579.