When it comes to health issues, I am a believer in the theory that if it can’t hurt but it might help then you have to give it a try. Though acupuncture has a lot of potential benefits, many people theorize that it only works as a placebo. Still, an estimated 3 million American adults get acupuncture treatment each year even though it is somewhat controversial.
Acupuncture is when small needles are gently inserted at specific points on the body to promote health and recovery. It began as part of traditional Chinese medicine, yet today there are acupuncturists practicing regularly all over the world.
My feeling is that relief is relief. Whether it comes from real acupuncture alone or whether there is an additional placebo effect, does it really matter?
Here are some of the various issues for which those 3 million Americans are seeking acupuncture treatment. Could acupuncture help you?
Can acupuncture help? 1 of 10
May be beneficial for IVF 2 of 10
There has been some debate about whether acupuncture can help with in vitro fertilization (IVF). When I went through infertility years ago I knew of several women who were seeking additional help during their IVF cycle with acupuncture. Interestingly, a study from the University of Maryland found that acupuncture may be beneficial depending on the fertility clinic. For IVF clinics with baseline pregnancy rates lower than 32%, adding acupuncture seemed to increase the likelihood of IVF pregnancy success.
Source: University of Maryland
May ease depression 3 of 10
If you suffer from depression or have a loved on who does, you know that toll it can take. According to the CDC, about 1 in 10 Americans report being depressed. Depression can also potentially lead to the onset or increased severity of other chronic medical conditions. Yet those who are eager for feel relief from symptoms of depression report having more success when they added acupuncture to counseling, particularly in the first few months of treatment.
Could lessen seasonal allergies 4 of 10
If you are the sneezing and wheezing type, you may want to put acupuncture on your list of remedies to try, or not. Researchers examined over people with allergies, and found that those who received acupuncture treatments with their antihistamines showed a greater reduction in allergy symptoms and less need for using antihistamines. However, even those in the study who received fake acupuncture therapy also reported at least some relief of their symptoms, so a placebo effect may be at play too.
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine
Could help relieve back pain 5 of 10
If you have ever pulled a muscle in your lower back, you know that back pain can be absolutely excruciating. Acupuncture may provide some relief for those who are suffering from chronic pain such as back pain. Research shows that acupuncture is effective in reducing chronic pain more than standard pain treatment and slightly better than fake acupuncture treatments (done using sham needles).
Another long-term study out of the UK found that after a year acupuncture showed a small improvement in pain scores compared to patients receiving usual care though the results were stronger at 24 months. They worried less about their back pain, were less likely to use pain medication, and were more likely to report no pain.
May ease tension headaches 6 of 10
Having several friends who suffer from severe tension headaches, and they can be really debilitating. A 2005 study out of Germany showed that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for tension headache, even cutting rates for sufferers by almost half. And a minimal acupuncture course works almost as well as traditional Chinese therapy, say the researchers. There was some potential placebo affect too, as those who had minimal acupuncture saw improvement as well. The reduced headache rates continued for months after the acupuncture treatment.
Source: British Medical Journal, BMJ.com
Could ease pain from chronic illnesses 7 of 10
Rush University Medical Center offers pediatric patients diagnosed with chronic illnesses acupuncture therapy all in an effort to help ease the pain caused by chronic health conditions and the side effects of treatments for those conditions.
Source: Rush University Medical Center
May help patients with Bell Palsy 8 of 10
You may have heard of Bell palsy, or know someone who has had it. Bell palsy is a scary sudden onset of facial paralysis. Luckily, it is usually temporary and can resolve itself within weeks or months. However, sometimes the damage can be permanent. Researchers have found that patients who received a type of acupuncture called "de qi" had better facial muscle recovery.
Could help women with PCOS 9 of 10
Women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may see relief through a combination of acupuncture and exercise. During a study where women with PCOS received a type of acupuncture known as 'electroâ€‘acupuncture', menstrual cycles became normalized and testosterone levels were lowered. Electro-acupuncture is when the needles are stimulated with a lowâ€‘frequency electric current.
Ideally, women with PCOS should maintain a healthy diet and do regular exercise. Yet the group of women in the study who received acupuncture had better results than those who were instructed to exercise at least three times a week.
Source: University of Gothenburg
May provide relief for hot flashes 10 of 10
Some call them hot flushes, other call them hot flashes. Whatever you call them, they are a bizarre side affect of getting older. (If you have never had one, trust me on that.) A small study found that acupuncture curbs the severity of hot flashes. The results suggest acupuncture might boost the production of endorphins, which may stabilize the body's temperature controls.
A study has also found that acupuncture can provides relief from hot flushes in women who are being treated with tamoxifen following surgery for breast cancer.
Please note that this post is intended to share information and ideas, as well as to create conversation. Please consult a medical professional before making changes to your lifestyle.
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