It is 3,000 years old, and has been used ever since.
But does it really work? Let’s see.
The U.S. National Institute of Health first documented acupuncture’s safety and efficacy for a host of conditions in 1997, and further research has been carried out since.
Inserting fine, sterile needles into the skin; image source: pilateswellness.net
There have been several studies and clinical trials testing the efficacy and safety of acupuncture, and many have found it helps with certain types of conditions.
Acupuncture is stimulating
According to the research cited by UC San Diego Center for Integrative Medicine, acupuncture can stimulate the nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, digestive and immune systems; inserting fine, sterile needles into the skin at specific acupuncture points is believed to relieve pain and stress, improve sleep, and help the body’s self-healing processes.
Clinical studies also show it to be useful in case of migraines, nausea, anxiety, depression, and infertility. Moreover, acupuncture alleviates depression-related insomnia, improving sleep quality and duration as effectively as antidepressants but without the adverse effects.
Acupuncture practically has no side effects
To enhance the results, electrical stimulation, pressure (manual massage), or heat (moxibustion) can also be used, in addition to the topical use of herbal medicines. The needles will stay on from 5 to 30 minutes; there should be no pain, even though sometimes a minimal discomfort may be experienced.
Any side effects and complications are fewer than those that can arise with conventional medication.
It relieves chronic pain
According to Harvard Medical School, drawing on results published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, research shows acupuncture to be highly effective for chronic pain, relieving it by about 50%.
The findings are based on 29 studies and nearly 18,000 participants, grouped into people who were administered acupuncture, people with sham acupuncture, and people with no acupuncture at all.
Furthermore, researchers from the Xianning Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine have found moxibustion in conjunction with triple acupuncture significantly more effective (96.7%) than conventional acupuncture (90%) at relieving menstrual pain and cramping.
Similarly, according to the Healthcare Medicine Institute, acupuncture and moxibustion also work for alleviating the pain associated with knee osteoarthritis, and are more effective than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; while the effect of medication is faster, acupuncture has been found to provide better long-term relief and motion improvement.
How it unfolds
Harvard Medical School recommends acupuncture for old pain, for which the patient already has a clear diagnosis, since pain can be a symptom of a more serious medical condition that needs immediate medical attention rather than alternative therapies.
A professional acupuncturist will take the patient’s health history before proceeding with the examination properly. During the exam, the acupuncturist will look at the shape, color, and coating of the patient’s tongue, will feel their pulse, and will perform any other physical examinations they deem necessary to correctly assess the patient’s condition.
Then, the practitioner will recommend a treatment plan tailored to each patient’s needs; it is important to know that many insurance policies cover acupuncture sessions.
Relief may come with the very first treatment, but for most people with chronic conditions, it may take several months before they experience major improvement.