Acupuncture is a practice that originated from ancient Chinese medicine. The practice didn’t reach the West until the 19th century. However, it didn’t become popular in the United States until the early 1970s, shortly after President Nixon received acupuncture after visiting China.
Today, several studies have shown that acupuncture improves health through reducing pain, anxiety, and improving memory. Whether you’re suffering from pain, the side effects from long-term opiate abuse or other mental health problems, acupuncture can be beneficial.
So how can placing small needles on your body improve your health?
How It Works
It’s all in the Qi. Qi, also known as “chi”, is your body’s natural energy. In Traditional Chinese medicine, Qi regulates the energy force in the body. If you think of the body as a pathway, Qi helps to direct the flow of energy throughout the body through pathways known as meridians.
However, when your body gets stressed due to injury, poor nutrition or physical changes in the environment, this can block your “chi” and disrupt the energy flow throughout the body. A board-certified acupuncturist will use the following techniques to restore your energy:
• Insert sterile, tiny needles a half millimeter away from the nerve.
• The acupuncture points will cause the nervous system to generate chemicals that reduce tension and kill pain in the targeted area.
• After 20-30 minutes, the procedure will reinvigorate the body’s natural healing process.
Acupuncture is not a one-time procedure. To help your body get the most out of acupuncture, it helps to receive treatment multiple times or weekly. Most people receive up to 12 30-minute sessions over a span of a few weeks.
Is Acupuncture Right For Me?
It’s common for people who have abused opiates (painkillers) in the past to have issues with chronic pain. Once they detox from opiates, pain can still persist long after use. If you’ve struggled with substance abuse, especially opiate addiction, acupuncture can help to reduce pain.
According to a study in the North Carolina Medical Journal, acupuncture works to reduce symptoms from opiate abuse such as pain, nausea, dizziness, sedation, and other symptoms. Acupuncture for acute (short-term) and chronic pain relief is used in conjunction with other pain management methods and works well for back, neck, knee and headache pain.
Stress and anxiety from pain often go hand-in-hand. Whether pain persists from stress and anxiety or stress and anxiety causes pain, they often co-occur. Since acupuncture works to relieve tension, it also restores your body’s chemical imbalances from stress and anxiety.
According to The Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, acupuncture can reduce anxiety immediately after treatment. When “chi” is restored, patients can often wean off anxiety medication. Patients also see an improvement in memory.
Manage Pain and Improve Mental Health
Whether you use acupuncture as a method for pain relief, to reduce stress and anxiety, or to improve your memory, it is best used in conjunction with other evidence-based treatment methods.
If you think it is right for you, make sure you receive treatments from a certified acupuncturist from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.