Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapy that has long been known to have significant benefits. New findings, however, indicate that in addition to combating pain, acupuncture may have surprisingly far-reaching benefits for combating a variety of medical symptoms.
An acupuncturist performs an acupuncture treatment by lightly inserting very thin needles into the patient’s skin. In traditional Chinese theory, acupuncture corrects imbalances in the flow of natural energy, or qi, through the body. From a Western medical perspective, some doctors believe acupuncture stimulates endorphins, chemicals our bodies use to block pain signals.
Whatever the case, acupuncture is known to have very beneficial effects for relieving aches and pains. It can help people dealing with chronic pain in many different parts of their bodies.
Beyond relieving chronic pain, acupuncture has also been found to have positive effects on reducing allergy symptoms. While people often rely on drugs known as antihistamines for relief during pollen season, many people find that they’re still miserable even with antihistamines, and that’s where acupuncture comes in.
New findings indicate that people who suffer from allergies to pollen benefit from acupuncture. A recent study compared the wellbeing of three groups of participants who suffered from allergies: a group who received acupuncture treatments and antihistamines; a group who received sham acupuncture treatments, in which the needles were placed randomly, and also took antihistamines, and a group who took only antihistamines.
The results were crystal-clear: after two months, the people who received genuine acupuncture treatments reported the best improvement in their symptoms and the least use of antihistamines. Even the second group derived some benefits from their sham acupuncture treatments, though not as much as the first group. The third, antihistamine-only group was the most miserable.
In addition to allergy medication, acupuncture is showing promise for helping people to reduce their reliance on pain medication.
A massive study conducted by researchers in Australia took a large sample of emergency room patients who variously experienced acute lower back pain, migraines, or ankle sprains, and divided them into three treatment groups: the first group received only acupuncture, the second group received acupuncture and pain medication, and the third group received only pain medication.
The findings were striking: out of all three groups, the acupuncture-only patients were the most satisfied after two days. Some 82% of the patients in the first group indicated they would opt for that treatment again, compared with 80% of the patients in the second group and 78% in the third group.
Another new study indicates that acupuncture treatments may be helpful to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is correlated with a number of symptoms which can pose significant personal, familial, and social difficulties.
However, acupuncture treatments performed on children ages 3-10 found a number of positive benefits. The children were better-behaved and paid better attention, reducing parental stress and promoting better parent-child relationships. The treatments also helped the children with sleep issues.
Acupuncture has long been known to alleviate pain, helping patients with a variety of chronic pain issues achieve a better quality of life and a greater sense of well-being. New findings indicate that it may have much more far-reaching benefits as well. From allergy relief to pain relief to helping children with ASD, acupuncture offers tremendous potential for improving wellness.
Photo courtesy of Jim Lukach, Creative Commons.