Is Acupuncture Effective?
Two of the most common questions that I get as a licensed acupuncturist is: “Is acupuncture effective?” which is commonly followed by: “How does acupuncture work?”
To answer those questions, some background information may be helpful. Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and it has been practiced for several thousand years. Today, it is a widely practiced medicine with over 10 million acupuncture treatments delivered annually in the United States, and hundreds of millions more around the world. Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin, and often painless, needles into specific points of the body that have been demonstrated to help with various health concerns. With acupuncture, we are seeking to help stimulate the body’s innate healing force to bring about more balance and less suffering for the patient.
Along with the rest of the medical community we can never guarantee results, however, much research supports the benefits of acupuncture. Acupuncture is recognized as a safe medical modality by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization, in example, and is widely used in the Veterans Affairs Health Care Medical Center in North Carolina, and many other states. Experts at the NIH convened to prepare an official statement to the question “Is acupuncture effective?” According to the NIH, “promising results have emerged, for example, 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 or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program.”
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Patients seeking acupuncture commonly use it to address various conditions such as pain (low back pain, neck pain, sciatica, and more), stress reduction, fertility, digestive disorders, insomnia and sleep issues, and many others. One of the ways acupuncture is believed to work is by stimulating specific points on the body which interact with the nervous system to regulate pain-relieving chemicals and hormones, which can promote overall wellness. Broadly, through stimulating the self-healing, self-regulating processes of the body, we can say that acupuncture potentially has a broad range of applications; acupuncture is utilized in many situations where we attempt to encourage the body to heal and function more as it’s intended to, creating more ease.
During an acupuncture appointment, the practitioner will select precise points on the body to carefully insert ultrafine needles. The needles at our acupuncture clinic The Fountain Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine in Cary, NC are made of sterile, surgical stainless steel, and they are disposed of after every use.
While receiving acupuncture, the patient may feel a sensation of warmth, tingling, or a slight ache in the area being needled. Acupuncture should not be a painful process; many people find the appointments relaxing and report a sense of well-being afterward.
Each person’s response to acupuncture will vary depending on several factors, namely; the condition being treated, the severity of the condition, the amount of time the patient has had the condition, and the general health of the patient. It is important to seek out a qualified licensed acupuncturist who has undergone the proper training and credentialing to ensure the safety and well-being of the patient. If you are still curious to know, “Is acupuncture effective for my specific condition?” you are encouraged to contact licensed acupuncturists in your area to see if they believe they can assist you with your healthcare goals.
To schedule an appointment at The Fountain Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine in Cary, please visit www.fountainbooking.com. We hope to see you on your healing journey!
– Kristin ten Broeck, MSOM, L.Ac.