Acupuncture is a type of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in which thin needles are inserted in specific points of the body and electrically or manually stimulated. This is done by trained practitioners to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment. The stimulation of these thin needles cause the increase in blood flow and decrease of inflammatory mediators.
Acupuncture is the most widely practiced Traditional Chinese Medicine in America. This has stemmed from its effectiveness in the treatment of a wide variety of illnesses, and in the relief of pain and stress. In 2007 according to a survey, in the U.S alone at least 3.1 million people had used acupuncture. The study further revealed that the number of acupuncture visits had tripled between 1997 and 2007. The use of acupuncture will continue to increase as the numerous benefits of acupuncture are beginning to be understood and appreciated.
The top 3 benefits of acupuncture are:
1. It helps to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines
From the research work done in 2009 at the University of Munich, researchers from the center for complementary medicine came to a conclusion that acupuncture could be a viable option for treatment in patients with chronic headaches. This conclusion was drawn from the review of 11 studies that involved 2,137 students. The review compared the effects of true acupuncture, sham acupuncture and no acupuncture. The results showed that there was a decrease in the frequency of migraines suffered by patients who were treated with true acupuncture and those that were treated with sham acupuncture. Those that received true acupuncture had fewer episodes of migraines than those that had sham acupuncture. Those that did not receive acupuncture experienced no change in the frequency of migraines.
2. It helps in the treatment of insomnia
In 2009, the analysis done by the Beijing University of Chinese revealed the benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of insomnia. The analysis revealed that in patients who were suffering from insomnia and using herbal treatments or medications to treat sleep, the addition of acupuncture yielded a much better result than taking the medications alone. Acupuncture proved to be further beneficial in treating insomnia as it had no adverse effect unlike sleep medications or herbal remedies.
3. It helps to improve chronic pain
Chronic pain which includes back, neck, knee or arthritic pain has been proven to be improved by using acupuncture. In a study done in 2006 by the University Medical Center of Berlin, patients suffering from low back pain had a significant decrease in intensity of the pain following treatment with acupuncture after 8 weeks. Those they had no treatment showed no reduction in intensity of pain. A study done by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in 2012 in which clinical trials involving over 17,000 patients were reviewed showed that acupuncture reduced back, neck and muscle pains. This is as against the placebo group that showed no pain relief. The conclusion of the study was that acupuncture was a more effective option than placebo in the treatment of chronic pain.