The practice of acupuncture has been around for 3,000 years as a natural method of healing. Acupuncture uses fine, sterile needles applied to acupuncture points in the body, where pressure, heat, or electrical stimulation can be applied for an enhanced effect.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, yin and yang are two opposing universal forces present in our bodies, which must be in balance for each of us to be healthy. Acupuncture has been shown in clinical studies to alleviate a number of conditions ranging from musculoskeletal problems to mental health issues. There is a long list of diseases, symptoms, and conditions that are shown through case-controlled clinical studies to be effectively managed by acupuncture.
Clearly there is compelling evidence that acupuncture promotes wellness. The following five benefits of acupuncture demonstrate acupuncture’s efficacy and success at promoting good health and balance in our lives.
1. Reduces Stress
Essentially, acupuncture functions as physical therapy for the nervous system, as it retrains the nervous system and brain to react and behave as desired. Stress can be so detrimental to our health, and a vast number of people suffer from chronic stress that impacts multiple areas of their lives. The philosophy behind acupuncture is that mind and body are inextricably connected, where thoughts and emotions drive physiological responses. Accordingly, stress impacts thoughts and feelings, which in turn impact our emotional health and our physical health.
Acupuncture focuses on heart rate variability, or HRV, in order to help our bodies manage and reduce stress. Decreased HRV leads to tension, anger, anxiety, and depression, whereas healthy HRV is associated with emotional balance, reduced stress, better management of stressful situations, and overall better functioning. HRV in turn positively influences our Central Autonomic Network (CAN), which is related to executive functioning. CAN relates to our working memory ability and gathering and organizing information from the mind and body in order to respond and engage with the present. In short, stress interferes with the body’s flow of energy, causing blockages that acupuncture releases.
2. Relieves Pain
The practice of relieving pain through acupuncture is an ancient one and now is used in the United States as well. It can be used for low back pain, menstrual cramps, nerve pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, and more. It is thought that the use of needles on acupoints relieves pain by releasing endorphins, as well as impacting mood by the release of serotonin. People are in fact starting to choose acupuncture over opioids in the United States, particularly given the opioid crisis. Currently acupuncture is being used particularly for back and neck pain, osteoarthritis pain, and headaches. It is said that acupuncture stimulates the vagus nerve, which may reduce inflammation throughout the body.
3. Improves Sleep Quality
Pain can also impact sleep in several ways, where acupuncture addresses both. Acupuncture can even help cure insomnia. Acupuncture is different than medicine or other remedies, as it targets the roots of the problem, helping regulate your body’s physiology, including certain neurotransmitters that may be keeping you awake. Acupuncture works to restore systematic balance where sleeping health is restored through reduced stress and a sense of calm and wellbeing.
4. Boosts Your Immune System
Acupuncture helps boost the immune system through influencing and manipulating the energies in your body, where movement of energy and the reduction of blockages is key. If your energy channels are blocked are broken, you are more susceptible to illness like viruses. Acupuncture even is thought to promote the production of T cells in the brain, where the needles are perceived as a threat when they enter the body, which increases your white blood cell count. Essentially, acupuncture stimulates and balances the immune system.
5. Helps Prevent Future Injuries
Acupuncture is an effective method for both treating physical injuries and preventing them. Having started as quick healing for the martial arts, acupuncture is now used by professional sports teams in the United States. Acupuncture treats the deeper muscle tissues through the needles inserted into the skin, where these muscle tissues are the source of injury-related pain. Preventative therapy is used on the back, hips, and legs through making them more flexible and causing less joint stress.
Overall, this non-invasive procedure is truly taking off as a viable alternative medicine in the United States. Its benefits are many and far outweigh any risks involved. Whether you are a young adult or senior, you can successfully integrate acupuncture into your long-term wellness plan.