What is Acupuncture? 6 Ways It Can Improve Your Health!

Acupuncture Improves Health Title

Acupuncture is a holistic health technique that stems from Traditional Chinese Medicine practices in which trained practitioners stimulate specific points on the body by inserting thin needles into the skin.

Today acupuncture is one of the most popular practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the West. TCM is a complimentary health approach that first originated in ancient China more than 2,500 years ago and has been evolving ever since.

To treat a wide variety of diseases, pain and stress-related symptoms, practitioners of TCM use holistic techniques that include acupuncture, herbal medicines, tai chi, qi gong, massage therapy, and various “mind and body practices.”

The use of acupuncture and other TCM techniques has risen steadily in the U.S and other Western countries over the past several decades. According to a large survey done on complementary health approaches by the National Institute of Health in 2007, in the U.S. alone at least 3.1 million people had tried acupuncture in 2007. The survey showed that the number of visits to acupuncturists tripled between 1997 and 2007. (1)

The first question most people ask me is, “Does acupuncture hurt?”

Surprisingly, although needles are used in acupuncture, treatments are relatively pain-free. In fact, one of the most popular uses of acupuncture is to reduce chronic pain throughout the body in a natural way, without the need for medications that can cause unwanted side effects.

Most of the studies investigating acupuncture to date have examined whether acupuncture can safely reduce pain. However, it’s expected that in the next several years, researchers will continue to study whether or not it might help with other conditions, too – including anxiety, depression, inflammation, hot flashes, side effects of chemotherapy and insomnia.


What Is Acupuncture Able to Treat?

Currently, acupuncture is used to treat conditions like:

  • muscle spasms and pain
  • chronic back problems and pain
  • headaches, including reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines
  • neck pain
  • osteoarthritis
  • knee pain
  • allergies
  • digestive problems
  • mood, depression

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services states that,

“… promising results have emerged showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment.” (2)


Is Acupuncture Safe?

The National Institute of Health does consider acupuncture to be “generally considered safe when performed by an experienced, well-trained practitioner using sterile needles.” (3) However, it’s important to always go to a practitioner that is well-trained in acupuncture as well as to a facility that is very careful about using clean needles — improperly performed acupuncture and/or contaminated needles can pose a big risk.

The good news is that the FDA regulates acupuncture needles as medical devices and requires that the needles be “sterile, nontoxic, and labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only.” To date, there have been very few complications reported from the use of acupuncture needles, so the risk is thought to be very low. This doesn’t mean that risk doesn’t exist, however, because some serious side effects have occurred when non-sterile needles have been used.

As far as how much acupuncture is needed before seeing results, firm clinical guidelines have yet to be established. Acupuncture is usually recommended as a complimentary treatment method — as something to try in addition to other pain management techniques, such as physical therapy, exercise and reducing inflammation through a healthy diet.


Acupuncture Benefits

1. Helps Reduce Headaches and Migraines

In 2009, after researchers from the Center for Complementary Medicine at the University of Munich reviewed over 11 studies involving 2,137 acupuncture patients, they concluded that acupuncture “could be a valuable non-pharmacological tool in patients with frequent chronic tension-type headaches.”

The review looked at multiple clinical trials comparing the effects of acupuncture sessions to “sham” (placebo-type of acupuncture) sessions and to receiving no treatment at all for the relief of migraine headache pain. In particular, both the group that had needles randomly placed and the group that had strategically placed needles experienced a reduction in headache symptoms.  The control group did not experience any change.

However, in the followup survey, the group that had the real acupuncture treatment continued to have both a decrease in the number of headache days and headache pain intensity. (4)

2. Improves Chronic Pain, Including for the Back, Neck, Knee or Arthritis Pain

Acupuncture was proven to be more effective for improving chronic back pain than no acupuncture treatment in a 2006 study done by the University Medical Center of Berlin. In patients with chronic low back pain, there was a significant difference in pain reported between groups of patients receiving acupuncture over eight weeks versus those not receiving any treatment. (5)

Even more impressive is a 2012 study done by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics aimed to determine the effect of acupuncture for four chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, arthritis, chronic headache and shoulder pain.

The researchers reviewed clinical trials involving over 17,000 patients, and the results showed that patients receiving acupuncture had less pain than patients in the placebo control group for back and neck muscle aches and pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headaches. (6) The conclusion was that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is “more than just a placebo effect, therefore it’s a reasonable referral option for doctors.”

3. Helps Treat Insomnia

Continue reading “What is Acupuncture? 6 Ways It Can Improve Your Health!”

Got Low Back Pain? Massage Therapy May Rub It Out

Peggy O’Brien-Murphy receives a massage from therapist Loretta Lanz. O’Brien-Murphy was among the participants in a study that found both relaxation and deep tissue massage are effective treatments for lower back pain.

/Group Health Research Institute

Low back pain is second only to cold symptoms when it comes to complaints that send people to the doctor. Sooner or later, back pain seems to get most of us.

Summary For Patients

Read a summary of the findings and their implications from the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Now, a study in the July 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that massage is an effective treatment for lower back pain. In some cases, researchers report, the benefits of massage lasted for six months or longer.

Researchers headed by epidemiologist Daniel Cherkin, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, enrolled 401 people with chronic low back pain and no identifiable reason for the pain.

Study participants were randomly assigned to one of three treatments. One group received full-body relaxation massage. A second received targeted deep tissue massage. The third group got the usual care — medication and physical therapy.

In relaxation massage, often referred to as Swedish massage, a variety of maneuvers are used to promote a feeling of relaxation throughout the body and muscles. Structural massage, commonly referred to as deep tissue massage, targets specific pain related tissues, ligaments and joints.

After 10 weeks, the results were dramatic: Nearly two-thirds of the patients who received either type of weekly massage said their back pain was significantly improved or gone altogether. Only about one-third of patients receiving the usual care experienced similar relief.

“We found that both types of massage were equally effective in helping people improve their function and diminish their symptoms,” Cherkin says. He says massage relieved the pain for six months or more.

Prior studies of massage for back pain had tested only structural forms of massage, not relaxation massage. But relaxation massage is more widely available, and it’s often less costly.

‘I’m So Very Lucky’

Peggy O’Brien-Murphy was among the study participants. In her late 60s, a retired state employee, O’Brien Murphy tried just about everything to get rid of the pain in her lower back. The massage therapy finally seemed to do the trick.

“I’m so very lucky,” she says.

Prior to the study, O’Brien-Murphy says she had found herself increasingly debilitated by back pain. At one point, she says she could hardly get out of a chair.

“It was really bad,” she says. “In fact, I was pulling myself up the stairs by the banister.” It was difficult getting into the car. And she could no longer walk the hills where she lives. For an active person, this was devastating.

So when she came upon an ad in her HMO’s newsletter, Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, she jumped at the chance to take part in the massage study.

After just two or three sessions with massage therapist Loretta Lanz, O’Brien-Murphy said she felt better. After each session she walked around the block, standing straighter and walking further each time. By the end, she felt “back to normal,” with a “spring to my walk and some energy in it!”

For O’Brien-Murphy, the massage-therapy experience has been life-changing: She has traveled to China, where she walked all over without problems, and she’s already planning her next trips.

No one knows exactly how massage works to relieve pain, says Dr. Richard Deyo of Oregon Health Sciences University, who also took part in the study.

“It may be that it helps with relaxation of muscles that are tense,” Deyo says. “But it may also be there are simply more generalized effects of relaxation — in the caring and attention and someone laying hands on — that may all be important.”

Researchers say future studies should look more closely at the benefits of massage and focus on cost-benefit analysis.

As for O’Brien-Murphy, she remains free of back pain, but not without some effort on her part. Other studies have shown that building strong and flexible muscles can help prevent back pain. O’Brien-Murphy never exercised before. But now she does weight training, muscle stretches and aerobic exercise — activities all shown to help prevent recurrence of lower back pain.

Contact Natural Healing Care Center (click) for more information on Massage Therapy for pain relief, or for any other questions,
call 520-323-0069

Acupuncture and Weight Loss

 

Chinese acupuncture is finally getting under the skin of dieters by tapping into the body’s many hidden energy meridians. The ancient practice of acupuncture helps to heal a host of ailments, and practitioners of Western medicine now embrace it to quell chronic pain, postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, addictions and weight loss. When fine needles are barely inserted into the skin along strategic points on the body it can restore balance to the flow of energy along rivers of Qi (pronounced chee), or life force.

There are many reasons people become overweight – hormone imbalances, slowed metabolism, overeating, poor nutrition and lack of exercise are some of the most common.

Using acupuncture to tackle weight loss is a multi-pronged approach. Continue reading “Acupuncture and Weight Loss”

Ask the Doctor a Question! Natural Healing Care Center, Tucson

WHAT: Open discussion with DR. MAY (ASK ANY HEALTH QUESTIONS YOU HAVE)

WHEN: Every Tuesday and Thursday in APRIL from 2:30pm-4:30pm

WHERE: Natural Healing Care Center in the Waiting roomcartoon-doctor

WHO: EVERYONE!!!!! (SEATING LIMITED)

COST: FREE!!!!!!

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What is Acupuncture & How Can You Benefit

What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture has been used to treat hundreds of imbalances, from a minor cold to chronic back pain.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest recorded forms of medicine and is used to realign and balance our energy system into a harmonious flow. It is based off of the belief that we all carry vital energy (called “Qi”) through our meridians (energy layers).  Acupuncture has been used to treat hundreds of imbalances, from a minor cold to chronic back pain.

Along with Massage, Herbal Remedies, Exercise and Nutrition, Acupuncture is one of the Five Pillars of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  As a healing form, it dates back 5,000 years, and today in the US, about 10 million acupuncture treatments are given per year. Most likely, someone you know has received a treatment; the knowledge of its benefits are becoming more widely recognized. Acupuncture is thought to be a valuable therapeutic addition by fifty-one percent of medical doctors, and the National Institute of Health approves Acupuncture as a treatment for dozens of conditions.

The history of Acupuncture dates back only a few decades in the US. However, it has been used in China and other parts of Asia for thousands of years, as a healing method for illnesses of almost all kinds. More solid research is needed to study just why acupuncture is effective, but so far it has been proven by Western medical standards to relieve pain, enhance healing and recovery, and treat effects of many conditions such as:

Continue reading “What is Acupuncture & How Can You Benefit”

Is Acupuncture Worth a Try For Chronic Pain?

Do you ask yourself? Is Acupuncture worth a try for chronic pain?

Here’s a great article on how acupuncture can help relieve some common ailments. For more information on acupuncture or to schedule an appointment please call Natural Healing Care Center: 520-323-0069. Make sure you mention you saw this post on our new blog!

Click here to read: Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

Acupuncture pressure points
Acupuncture Pressure Points