Acupuncture for Sports Injury
Acupuncture is an effective treatment for pain management since it helps the body heal the injury rather than merely mask the pain as is usually the case with allopathic (western) medicinal therapies. Sports injuries are very common among people with active lifestyles. Most sports-related injuries occur when a particular part of the body is overused such as runner’s knee or through a repetitive stress injury like tennis elbow.
Physiologically speaking, the manipulation of these acupoints causes a two-fold reaction that heals the pain. First, the treatment causes the body to release certain neurohormones, such as endorphins and enkephalins, which inhibit pain impulses. Secondly, acupuncture also acts as a nerve block steering the nerve impulses away from the painful nerve group. Studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have shown a reduction of nerve activity related to pain while the area is being treated through acupuncture.
Along with prescribing a treatment of acupuncture, there may also recommend additional combinations of treatments such as herbal medicine, massage/bodywork, Gua Sha, moxibustion, electric-stimulation, taping, or cupping.
Acupuncture for Arthritis
A study on TCM published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2004) has shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment for those patients who suffer from degenerative rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
The study tested 570 knee-patients who underwent acupuncture treatments and reported a 40% reduction in pain and nearly a 40% increase in function by the 14th week of therapy.
Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture can help relieve the pain, fatigue and anxiety associated with fibromyalgia, according to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, (2006). Fibromyalgia is a condition in which patients experience wide spread aches and pain coupled with fatigue and sleep problems. Currently there are no medicines specifically approved for fibromyalgia and patients are usually prescribed a combination of painkillers, antidepressants and exercise therapy.
Acupuncture treatments have little-to-no side-effects, and thus, can be utilized regularly and effectively for the long-term treatment of fibromyalgia.
Stress reduction is perhaps, the most common reason for a person to seek acupuncture treatments. Today, most people carry around a high level of stress caused by the demands of the 21st century. Stress that we face in our day-to-day lives--whether it is from pressures of work, family, money, interpersonal relationships or environment--can show up in the body.
Hence, the incidence of stress-induced illnesses is rising exponentially and manifesting itself in diseases ranging from migraine headaches and insomnia to iatrogenic diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, PTSD, and so on. Stress is also often cited as the reason for someone to smoke or abuse alcohol. Additionally, stress can also lead to depression, anxiety or more acute mental illnesses.
Acupuncture works for stress and stress-related illnesses by settling the emotions through the insertion of needles into specific points along the meridians most often affected by stress.
Acupuncture for Increased Energy
Acupuncture is an effective tool that increases a sense of vitality within a person. Often, when vital energy is blocked or stagnant, the body responds by becoming more sluggish and achy. Acupuncture releases this energy to enliven all organs and tissues, which in turn, increases overall vitality, aids in better digestion, releases pain and relaxes muscular and emotional tension.
Oriental medicine believes that allergies and colds occur when there is a deficiency of the wei Qi (the protective layer) and the ying Qi (the nutritive layer), which together, work as the body’s defensive barrier protecting the body and serving as the immune system. Acupuncture employs a holistic approach where the treatment focuses on balancing the entire immune system. According to scientific research, when under the stimulation of acupuncture, the neuro-endocrine system affects the receptors of the immune organs and cells by releasing many kinds of neurotransmitters and hormones to regulate the immune system.
Allopathic (western) medicine relies on introducing chemicals into the body that inhibit the allergic or cold response. Examples include antihistamines and decongestants that address the respiratory system as well as drugs such as epinephrine, which affect the nervous system. Although these medications are effective in treating the symptoms, the side effects include drowsiness and immune system suppression and over reliance in long-term use.
PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
East Asian Medicine attributes Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) to an imbalance of hormones. PMS symptoms occur about 7-10 days prior to menstruation and may include conditions such as breast tenderness, bloating, constipation, insomnia, acne, irritability, depression, mood swings, poor concentration, appetite changes, headache, pelvic pain and social withdrawal. Symptoms may range from mild to severe
Acupuncture works to regulate hormonal fluctuations and stimulate bodily functions while also removing energy blockages. Various East Asian Medicine therapies are additionally prescribed to encourage deep relaxation and mental calmness while normalizing the menstrual cycle.
Unlike allopathic medicine, acupuncture does not treat menopause as a single condition, but rather looks to treat individual symptoms in a holistic manor as per each patient’s unique needs. A main part of the treatment includes focusing on the kidney, which is seen as the root of life and longevity in East Asian Medicine as well as the spleen and liver. As menopause occurs, valuable vitality, blood and energy are sent down to the uterus. Acupuncture redirects this flow so that the essence from the kidneys is conserved and cycled throughout the body so as to ease the discomfort of this transition.
A number of cancer centers in the US., including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NY, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houtson are integrating acupuncture in to cancer care. According to Randomized Clinical Trials, acupuncture is effective therapy for addressing the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of appetite
- Neuropathies (eg. Numbness, tingling, and burning sensations)
- Hot flashes
- Dry mouth
- Dyspnea (difficulty breathing)
- Cancer-related pain.
A typical treatment for a cancer patient usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes long and using light needle stimulation and with thinner needle gauges for patient comfort.
In recent news, acupuncture has gained widespread popularity for treating female infertility. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help with female infertility by:
- promoting the quantity and quality of eggs.
- balancing the LH and FSH levels
- promoting the combination of the sperm and the egg
We can also help male infertility issues by:
- increasing sperm count
- increasing sperm motility
According to research conducted on IVF patients taking acupuncture for fertility, conclusions showed that IVF programs can significantly improve their IVF outcomes by adding acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Furthermore, fertility drugs that are commonly prescribed for women have been known to cause such side-effects such as abdominal tenderness, bloating, fluid retention, weight gain, and nausea. Some studies show that they may also cause breast cancer. However, acupuncture and herbal medicine produces the same functions as those medications with little or no side-effects at all.