In this article, 2Me Clinic explore the top 10 benefits of acupuncture and why it is becoming increasingly popular as part of integrated care that combines the benefits of both Eastern and Western medicine.

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practised for thousands of years. It involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of energy and promote healing.

While acupuncture is often used to treat pain, it has a wide range of benefits for both physical and mental health.The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) lists an A-Z of the evidence base for acupuncture and how it can be beneficial for a variety of conditions.

1. Pain Relief

One of the most well-known benefits of acupuncture is its ability to provide pain relief. The treatment stimulates nerves in the muscles and other tissues, releasing endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and changing the way pain is processed in the brain and spinal cord.

Currently, the National institute for clinical excellence (NICE) in the UK recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for chronic (long-term) pain. The World Health Organization also endorses acupuncture. Clinical studies have shown it to be a beneficial treatment for many conditions, including chronic pain such as migraines, neck and back pain, tendonitis, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.

Acupuncture can also be a great way to relieve the pain of a coil fitting. You can book a one-off acupuncture session before your coil fitting appointment at 2Me Clinic. This may help you decrease stress and anxiety before the procedure and have better control of the pain. 

2. Stress Reduction

Patients report a great sense of calm after an acupuncture session. Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of ‘neurochemical messenger molecules’. This alters the body’s internal feedback systems, promoting emotional and physical wellbeing.

Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically benefit anxiety disorders and symptoms of anxiety. This is achieved by acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress. As well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry.

3. Improved Digestion

Acupuncture can be beneficial for those suffering from digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, and constipation. IBS occurs when stress causes the sympathetic nervous system to stimulate spasms in the colon, resulting in abdominal pain. Acupuncture activates the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the ‘rest and digest’ response.

4. Boosted Immune System

Acupuncture can regulate immune function. Studies have shown that acupuncture can help boost the immune system by increasing the production of red and white blood cells. This can help the body fight off infections and illnesses more effectively. 

Conversely, acupuncture can also play a role in reducing inflammation and modulate an overactive immune system.

5. Insomnia 

By altering the brain’s mood chemistry, acupuncture can reduce serotonin levels and increase endorphins and neuropeptide Y levels, which help to improve sleep.

6. Improved Fertility

Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat fertility issues in both men and women. It has become increasingly popular as part of integrated care to prepare and support both natural fertility and IVF.

Acupuncture can help regulate hormones, improve blood flow to the reproductive organs, and reduce inflammation and stress, all of which can increase the chances of conception.

Acupuncture is safe to use during pregnancy and pregnancy care focuses on supporting embryo and placenta development during the first trimester as well as conditions such as morning sickness, fatigue, back pain, carpal tunnel and anxiety which may be experienced during pregnancy. At later stages in pregnancy, acupuncture may be used to prepare for birth.  

Postpartum care focuses on supporting the mother’s physical and mental well-being immediately after birth to the next 12 months.

7. Allergy Relief

Acupuncture has been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of allergies, such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. By targeting specific points on the body, acupuncture can help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation, leading to fewer allergy symptoms.

8. Improved Mental Clarity

Acupuncture has been shown to have a positive effect on cognitive function, improving memory, concentration, and mental clarity. By promoting relaxation and reducing stress, acupuncture can help clear the mind and improve overall mental well-being.

9. Hormonal Balance

Hormonal imbalances can lead to a variety of health issues, including irregular periods, mood swings, and weight gain. In patients with PCOS, acupuncture has been observed to normalise insulin insensitivity and help balance reproductive hormones and normalise ovulation. 

10. Increased Energy

Acupuncture can help increase energy levels by stimulating the flow of energy throughout the body. By targeting specific points on the body, acupuncture can help improve circulation and promote the production of energy-boosting hormones, leading to increased vitality and stamina.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture is based on the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”), which is the vital energy that flows through the body. According to traditional Chinese medicine, when Qi is blocked or imbalanced, it can lead to illness and pain. Acupuncture works by stimulating specific points on the body, known as acupoints, to restore the flow of Qi and promote healing.

From a scientific point of view, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and other neurotransmitters that can help regulate the nervous system and promote relaxation.

What to Expect During an Acupuncture Session

The initial session starts with an in depth consultation where your acupuncturist takes your medical history and detailed description of your symptoms, they will insert thin, sterile needles into specific points on the body. The needles are typically left in place for 20-30 minutes while the patient relaxes. The number of needles used and the length of the session will vary depending on the individual’s condition and the acupuncturist’s treatment plan.

Many people report feeling a slight tingling or dull ache when the needles are inserted, but this sensation typically subsides quickly. Some people may also experience a feeling of deep relaxation during the session.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a licensed and trained practitioner. The needles used are sterile and disposable, and the risk of infection is minimal. However, it is essential to ensure that your acupuncturist is licensed and follows proper hygiene and safety protocols.

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to promote healing and improve overall health and well-being. With its wide range of benefits, from pain relief to improved fertility, it is no wonder that acupuncture is becoming increasingly popular in Western medicine.

If you are considering acupuncture as a treatment option, be sure to consult with a licensed acupuncturist to discuss your specific needs and treatment plan. With its long history of success and growing body of research, acupuncture may be just the solution you need for improved physical and mental health.

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