Acupuncture has been used for centuries, but scientists are finally uncovering exactly how this treatment can help people with a wide variety of conditions. Could acupuncture help you?
The idea of acupuncture might sound a little scary at first. After all, not many people like getting a shot or giving blood, so why would you voluntarily get needles stuck into your skin? But the ancient practice is not nearly as invasive as it might sound, and the acupuncture health benefits can be well worth it. Acupuncture has been shown to help improve digestion, balance hormones, and treat chronic pain. Here’s how it works and what it could do for your health.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of East Asian medicine in which a trained acupuncturist inserts thin, sterile needles into certain points on the body. Scientists are still determining how acupuncture works, and it may actually work through several different mechanisms. One hypothesis is that acupuncture triggers blood flow, which initiates an immune response that helps the body heal itself. Another theory is that certain acupuncture points directly stimulate nerves that then trigger the brain to release hormones that can reduce pain, stress, and even inflammation.
Although acupuncture has been used for centuries, it is only recently being accepted as a successful and respected form of medicine that can treat some ailments as well as aid with pain. These are some of the promising ways acupuncture could help you.
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Acupuncture health benefits
Reduces stress and anxiety
Acupuncture has been shown to lower stress hormones and block the pathway involved in the fight or flight response (1).
Along with a proper diet and nutrition guidance, acupuncture can improve digestion by promoting gastric peristalsis—the wavelike movements that push food through the digestive tract—in patients with low motility and suppresses peristalsis in patients with hyperactive motility (2).
Acupuncture can help reduce menstrual symptoms (3), improve fertility, and minimize the effects of menopause by adjusting estrogen, progesterone, FSH and LH levels (4).
Relieves acute and chronic pain
Acupuncture is widely used as pain relief therapy of any origin by triggering the release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers (5).
Helps manage autoimmune diseases
By minimizing autoimmune responses, acupuncture can help with management of autoimmune diseases such as lupus, Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease. It triggers immune-suppressors, reduces inflammation, and activates cell proliferation to help manage and prevent flare ups (6).
Final thoughts on acupuncture
Most acupuncture treatments last approximately 20 to 30 minutes and many patients find the experience relaxing and soothing. While some people see results after a few treatments, the more chronic the condition, the longer it takes to see noticeable changes. Talk to your doctor to determine if the practice could be a good complement to your health plan.