Science has changed a lot about the way we think and live today in the 21st century. Today, old beliefs and practices have either ceased or been replaced with more practical methods. This is especially true in the field of medicine, where the industry is rapidly thriving with thousands of clinical studies and tests being assessed every year to meet regulations on new medical devices and drugs. These tests must be performed to meet the growing demands of our population and today’s technology. This is why we can have our illnesses and symptoms treated efficiently and effectively.
On the contrary, even though our field of medicine has advanced, there are no guarantees of the perfect treatment. Doctors will recommend or prescribe additional medications or alternative treatments still. These alternative treatments come in a myriad of forms, but one of the oldest and most heavily debated is the ancient Chinese treatment of acupuncture.
Acupuncture began about 2,500 years ago in China, where the practice consisted of puncturing the skin with sharp needle-like devices. These specific areas or points where needles are inserted are believed to mitigate certain symptoms by triggering the brain to release endorphins, our natural painkillers. What’s the reason behind this? Practitioners believe that those specific areas in our body are pathways for creating Qi (pronounced “chee”) energies. With the principles of yin and yang, if a certain area of the body is in pain, it is due to the imbalance of energy in that area. These disruptive energies must be balanced, therefore acupuncture steps in to help balance the energy in the body by allowing a consistent flow of energy throughout the entire body.
However, ever since its exposure to the western culture, acupuncture has been met with serious contentions and studies to resolve it as a placebo treatment. But, it’s rather difficult to ignore it when millions of Americans have reported to seek acupuncture as a complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment. It’s also been a topic on the Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz shows. Even the U.S. Air Force began teaching “Battlefield Acupuncture” to their physicians in the early 2009. With clinical studies, testimonies, and official recognition by institutes and government agencies, here are a few reasons why acupuncture should be considered a serious form of alternative medicine for the next time that you’re in pain.
1. It is safe and painless
This is one of the most common reasons why many people never seriously consider acupuncture: Needles! But, these aren’t the needles you see at the hospital lab. The needles of acupuncture are specifically designed to be imperceptible and be devoid of any serious pain. They are fine, thin needles that have surprised many patients with the lack of pain. However, if during and after acupuncture you do feel minor pain or bruises, those are common side-effects. If you feel serious pain, then you should find another practitioner who’s more competent.
The use of needles can spread infection if not sterile. When it comes to acupuncture, this should be of no concern because the needles are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The needles are disposable with good manufacturing practices and the single-use standards of sterility.
2. It is cost effective
One great benefit of seeking acupuncture as an adjunct treatment is the cost, along with the fact that some health insurance companies cover the treatment. If your insurer does not cover or only covers specific parts of the acupuncture treatment, still the overall benefits of seeking acupuncture is cost effective in the long run when it comes to serious chronic diseases. Nationwide, the median cost of acupuncture is $100. Here is a quick guide to the average cost in the U.S.
Acupuncture is considered as an alternative medicine, but you can also prevent ailments by being proactive instead of being reactive. While others seek acupuncture after the recommendation of a general practitioner, some treat themselves regularly as if they’re getting a therapeutic massage. Visiting an acupuncturist and receiving regular treatments can benefit your health in the long run.
3. It embraces new technology
Just because it’s an ancient practice doesn’t mean it can’t adapt with newer technology. There is another newly designed treatment of acupuncture that is called electroacupuncture (EA), but instead of needles just being inserted, it is attached to a device that sends electric currents or pulses into your body. Unlike other electrotherapy practices, EA sends the electricity into the body on the focused area. EA has been shown to be effective with heart disease, hypertension, nausea, and weight gain, though it is not recommended for patients with pacemakers or a history of seizures and epilepsy. The fact that acupuncture is able to adapt with growing technology shows its capability and popularity.
4. It helps treat stress, anxiety, and depression
A popular reason why acupuncture is recommended is due to the fact that it is a drug-free treatment. There are so many medications that can battle stress, anxiety, and depression, yet those medications will have side-effects which may require additional medications. The other general treatment of these conditions is therapy, which can be a long process.
Studies have shown that people who get regular treatments have felt more relaxed and peaceful during the treatment and afterward. Another study published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies in October 2013 — with the intent and purpose to investigate whether acupuncture can improve memory as it also reduces anxiety — had surprising results: students who underwent a 20-minute acupuncture session were found to have less anxiety and better memory immediately afterward than those who didn’t have acupuncture.
Getting acupuncture can also help wean a person off medications, but keep in mind that acupuncture is an adjunct treatment. If the counseling and medications are not working, then consider acupuncture. Although it has been proven to treat depression, be cautious during pregnancy. It is recommended to seek acupuncture after 12 weeks of pregnancy to be on the safe side.
5. It is recommended as the best alternative painkiller
It has been published that Americans spend billions of dollars for alternative medicines or treatments to reduce pain. In 1999, eight medical centers, including Harvard, Duke, and Stanford, created a study to find the best alternative medicines. The top five choices were produced and the very first recommended treatment was acupuncture.
6. It can help with many common illnesses
Doctors and even acupuncturists will inform you that acupuncture should be a side treatment and not a primary treatment for an illness. Never let an acupuncturist diagnose you. Acupuncture is there as an adjunct treatment to alleviate the symptoms on top of other treatments.
But, the battle between science and acupuncture is ongoing. More studies and research are always being developed. However, regardless of the myths and misinterpretations, acupuncture has shown to have positive effects on numerous diseases, symptoms, and conditions such as: allergies, headaches, nausea, pain, sprains, blood pressure, depression, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Featured photo credit: Tomás Fano via flickr.com