Managing chronic health conditions can be difficult, especially if you experience recurring bouts of painful symptoms. While you work with your physician or medical care provider to address your condition, it’s common to look for additional treatments or therapies that can provide much-needed relief. As you start to explore the benefits of acupuncture, it’s helpful to understand how this type of therapy works and what conditions acupuncture can address. For many people, acupuncture offers a safe and effective path toward pain reduction, managing chronic symptoms and restoring balance in the body, mind, and spirit.
How Acupuncture Therapy Works
For over 3,000 years, Asian healers have used acupuncture to promote healing within the body. However, while this practice—just one modality within the comprehensive system of Traditional Chinese Medicine—has been used for centuries, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) did not formally recognize this therapy until 1997. While robust and comprehensive clinical research is needed to better understand acupuncture’s efficacy in treating several conditions, existing data supports the use of acupuncture to relieve pain and encourage bodily healing.
During a session, the acupuncturist stimulates specific anatomic sites, called acupoints, usually through fine, sterile needles, pressure, heat, or electrical stimulation. By stimulating these acupoints and targeting various systems within the body, acupuncture can encourage the body to rebalance itself. Existing research has demonstrated that acupuncture can positively affect the nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system, digestive system, and endocrine system. Your acupuncturist will work with you to determine a treatment plan that best addresses your needs and goals.
Acupuncture for Pain Relief
Many people who struggle with chronic pain find much-needed relief through acupuncture therapy. While pharmaceutical medications often address specific symptoms, acupuncture takes a more holistic approach in that it works to restore and empower your body’s natural ability to heal itself. While the mechanism of action is not completely understood in scientific terms, we know that acupuncture promotes blood flow, which triggers the body’s natural painkillers. As a result, healing and calming neurotransmitters flood the brain and provide relief from pain. Acupuncture may also help suppress pain sensors in the central nervous system, and regulate inflammatory factors in the immune system. Existing clinical research indicates that acupuncture is especially effective in addressing chronic pain in the low back, neck, shoulders, and knees. Acupuncture can also relieve pain and tension associated with migraine headaches.
Acupuncture Therapy for Autoimmune Disease
Acupuncture therapy shows great promise in addressing autoimmune disease, as this practice can help to regulate the immune system and, in some cases, slow the progression of autoimmune disease. This research is especially encouraging, as many autoimmune diseases have no cure. Receiving regular acupuncture therapy can promote healing and balance within the body, addressing and relieving symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, and other autoimmune disorders. The benefits of acupuncture may be enhanced when used in conjunction with nutritional therapy, as ingesting nutrient-dense, whole foods and making healthy lifestyle choices can ease your body and immune system back into balance.
How Acupuncture Can Be Used to Support Cancer Treatment
In recent years, Western medicine has started to incorporate acupuncture therapy to support cancer treatment. Cancer patients can experience a wide range of debilitating and painful symptoms, both from the disease itself and the radiation, chemotherapy, and other interventions. One of the primary benefits of seeking acupuncture as part of your cancer treatment is to manage painful conditions, such as joint pain, back pain, headaches, nausea, and more. Additionally, as acupuncture works to rebalance and strengthen the immune system, regular acupuncture sessions can stimulate and activate the body’s ability to protect itself from common illnesses.
Impact on Psychological and Emotional Health
In addition to pain relief and immune support, acupuncture can address several aspects of mental and emotional health. Preliminary research indicates that regular acupuncture sessions can provide significant relief from symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Acupuncture can stimulate blood flow and encourage the release of “feel-good” neurotransmitters in the brain, improving mood and promoting quality sleep.
Addressing the Root of Ailments and Illnesses
Traditional Chinese Medicine takes a holistic approach to addressing bodily ailments. Instead of focusing on treating each symptom independently, Five Element acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and nutritional therapy work to identify and treat the roots of illness. Five Element acupuncture encourages our mind, body, and spirit to align with nature and the universal life force that modern society often prevents us from enjoying. By identifying your core energetic imbalances, we can design a customized acupuncture therapy plan to restore the flow of energy and encourage healing. As we move through the treatment plan, symptoms will start to resolve as a part of a more comprehensive and deeper process.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of Five Element acupuncture, call Inner Works Acupuncture today at (503) 227-2127 to schedule an appointment with a Portland healer.