Alternative Medicine

Acupuncture For More Than You’d Think

Injured? In Pain? Overweight? Try Acupuncture


There is a pill for just about any ailment you have. Whether or not that pill will work is another story. More and more people are turning to more natural remedies for health issues. Why? Because not only do they work, but they tend to be gentler on your body. Alternative medicine is a booming industry, and acupuncture is a major driver for the success. Just about any symptoms you are having can be treated effectively by a qualified provider.


The Origin of Acupuncture


While there has been a recent resurgence of the procedure, acupuncture has been in use for thousands of years, with some Chinese hieroglyphics depicting the treatment as early as 1600 B.C. when practitioners used sharpened stones to treat chronic pain. Since then, it has been carried through the centuries through traditional Chinese medicine, and stone and bone needles were (fortunately) replaced with metal pieces.


It wasn’t until the 1970s that the procedure gained popularity in the United States. At its most extreme, there are patients who allegedly endure surgery with no anesthetics and only acupuncture. More commonly, however, the treatment is used in a subtle manner to alleviate pain and provide healing.


How It Works


In traditional Chinese medicine, there is a belief that “qi” – an energy – flows through your body to regulate the way your systems work. When the flow is disturbed, problems such as diseases or medical conditions arise. Through stimulating various parts of the body, the flow can be restored. An acupuncturist consults with a patient to determine which points to treat through manually inserting needles or using an electronic shock. There are four methods used to diagnose the issue:


  • Inquiring: Looking for problems such as chills, fever, perspiration, appetite, thirst and sleep
  • Inspection: Looking at the face and the tongue for symptoms of distress or irregularities
  • Palpation: Looking for tender spots in the body
  • Auscultation and olfaction: Listening for sounds or looking for body odors


Once a diagnosis is made, the practitioner will begin the process, which most people find to be painless.


Treating Chronic Pain or Injuries


According to a study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, nearly 18,000 people used either acupuncture, no treatment or a “fake acupuncture to treat chronic pain. The results showed that using acupuncture relieved up to as much as 50 percent of a person’s symptoms.


If you are having lasting pain, experts recommend determining the cause to rule out serious health issues before trying acupuncture. If your physician clears you, you can begin your treatment. Many people find the side effects of acupuncture are favorable to those associated with traditional medicine.


Treatment for Weight Loss


There are a hundred different diets you could try to help lose weight, or you could turn to the age-old practice of acupuncture. The reason the treatment works for many people is because most providers take a multi-faceted approach to treat the issue. After all, there can be more than one reason someone gains weight, such as:


  • Overeating
  • Improper nutrition
  • Hormone imbalance


In theory, acupuncturists note that weight gain happens because the flow of “qi” has been interrupted around the hypothalamus, which is the part of your brain that maintains a balance of your hormones and additionally regulates things like hunger and thirst.


Recent research points to the effectiveness of treatments to actually:


  • Increase the hormone that manages your meal initiation, ghrelin
  • Decrease the hormone that suppresses your appetite, leptin


This may sound a little backward, but studies show that people who are obese actually have increased levels of leptin and low numbers of ghrelin, which creates unevenness that must be brought back into balance.

To treat obesity, an acupuncturist will typically utilize points along your ear that are tied to hunger, the stomach and endocrine system, which secretes hormones. Of course, most providers will recommend following a comprehensive plan to lose the weight, pairing acupuncture with a healthy diet and exercise.


Treatment for General Healing


There are acupuncturists who specialize in the procedure for a number of different ailments, including:


  • Insomnia
  • Infertility
  • Injuries
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • High blood pressure


Before making an appointment, it is a good idea to speak with the provider about the symptoms you have and if they specialize in treating people with your condition. It generally comes down to knowing which points to insert the needles to help alleviate your system. Depending on the provider, he or she will tell you that you have anywhere between 300 and 600 points on your body that are utilized in the practice.


The Details


How often you seek treatment and how much it will cost will vary from person to person. However, in general you will likely find that:


  • Your provider will recommend at least one treatment a week until you begin to see results, at which time you might space them apart further. If you are using acupuncture for weight loss, the general recommendation is at least 10 treatments over a few weeks.
  • Insurance typically will not cover your treatment unless your physician is also an acupuncturist. Without insurance, a single treatment usually ranges from $50 to upward of $100.
  • You should only receive acupuncture from someone who has been certified to practice; otherwise, you will not benefit from the procedure and may even risk being further injured or ill.


Acupuncture is a holistic approach to your physical health. Regardless of if you are injured or want to lose weight, you can see the benefits of your treatment typically within a few weeks. The most important thing is to find a qualified provider that has been licensed. Look for “L.Ac.” after the individual’s name, which stands for “licensed acupuncturist.” Discuss all your symptoms with your provider so they have a clear picture of what they can do to help you start feeling better.

January 29, 2014
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