Acupuncture is the ancient chinese practice of prodding some specific points of the body, to reduce pain or to treat some physical conditions. It also helps in alleviating mental conditions.
Even though, for a long time, the treatment was considered shamanistic & thought to have no actual scientific base within the scientific communities, recently some studies have proven the practice to be useful.
What exactly is Acupuncture & how does it work?
“Yin” and “yang” were very important parts of ancient chinese philosophy. They believed the imbalances of yin and yang in the living force also known as “Qi” (pronounced ‘chi’), is the main source of various illnesses. They also believed that this qi flows through the body via ‘meridians’ or pathways, that can be accessed via 350 acupuncture points spread throughout a human physique.
By putting thin needles through the skin into these points, one can control the flow of qi and bring back the balance needed in yin and yang, thus removing the pain or the illness.
Modern medicine has different interpretations of how it works. One of the hypothesis says- acupuncture is used to poke those specific points in the body that stimulate the nervous system & causes it to release various neural hormones such as β-endorphins.
These hormones increase the capacity to endure physical pain & reduces stress in parts of our body. Rather than working directly, acupuncture works via the biochemicals in our body.
Another hypothesis says that acupuncture works by controlling the markers or proteins involved in inflammation. Acupuncture works by penetrating the specific points in the body, that causes reduction in those pro-inflammatory markers.
Another view is that, by putting needles in various parts of the body, acupuncture signals the brain to release more nerve growth factors. Nerve growth factors help us recover from various nerve damage events, such as chemotherapy.
How acupuncture can affect your city life
As city life becomes monotonous with long work hours,citizens are increasingly looking for therapeutic treatments after a long day’s work. Acupuncture in Melbourne, New York, Hong Kong and other cities around the globe are increasingly becoming a popular mode of therapeutic treatment. It not only works as a mode of relaxing, but also helps release the work related stress.
Conditions where acupuncture can be useful
As stated above, acupuncture reacts with biochemicals to produce a reaction to decrease physical discomfort & cure conditions. A study published in 2012, showed acupuncture to be more effective than even actual painkillers in case of chronic pains.
The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains a list of conditions where acupuncture can be helpful. The list includes:
- Lower back pain
- Knee pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Induction of labor
- Acute bacillary dysentery
- Allergic asthma and many other conditions
In case of mental conditions, acupuncture can be used for curbing depression, vascular dementia, anxiety disorder, drug addiction, sleep disturbance & stress. By getting rid of various physical discomfort & causing secretion of hormones it helps somehow to control these mental conditions.
PTSD is one of the researched conditions that acupuncture can affect. A 2017 study has found that Acupuncture can contain PTSD by reducing some of its elements.
Acupuncture can play an important role in the field of cancer treatment. When damaged by chemotherapy nerve cells show a condition called peripheral-neuropathy which causes weakness in the hands & feet. As described before, acupuncture helps in releasing a nerve growth factor, which helps repair these damaged nerve cells. It also helps with the pain & nausea caused by chemotherapy, reducing the amount of stress & effects from these conditions.
From our discussions so far, we can deduce – acupuncture has many medical benefits. It has it’s applications, as both partial therapy to other treatments & as direct pain relief operation
Acupuncture is a comparatively safer form of therapy which has minimal side-effects. If performed correctly, it’s completely safe for the receiver. It can work as a pain relief for various injuries.
In some cases patients are not responsive to traditional pain medicines or treatments, sometimes medications are not suitable for them. In these abnomal situations acupuncture can be very useful for the patients. Acupuncture also has it’s application as a stress reliever.
So far we have discussed various benefits of acupuncture and how it can be good for us. However, it has some downsides to it too.
Acupuncture is still an experimental form of treatment. Studies are still being done to fully define its benefits & applications. Until the scientific community can fully confirm its uses & side effects, there’s always a chance it can do nerve & other types of damages to our body.
Like any other invasive treatment procedures, transmission related problems, such as-infections, may occur, if needles aren’t sterilised properly. It is also bad for a person with bleeding disorders or for someone who takes blood thinners. Also bleeding and bruising may occur at the acupuncture points.
How it could have an effect on your life
Acupuncture isn’t just a form of treatment, for many it’s a way of comforting the body. Acupuncture parlors arrange sauna-like environments with music, while the customers lay on beds. The needles are inserted into the specific acupuncture points, creating a relaxing situation for the person who is experiencing it.
As many of us in society are now burdened with overstressing & depression- acupuncture can be a source of relief for us. It can also help in providing relief for us from physical pain & many other conditions. While the practice is yet to get the proper certification as a treatment from the scientific community, it’s definitely a great mode of therapeutic relief for our mind & health.