Acupuncture is a healing technique that goes back thousands of years. It’s becoming one of the fastest growing fields in integrative health, benefitting your mind and body in numerous ways. It’s commonly used to treat pain, but is also beneficial for your overall well being, helping you maintain good health and reducing your chance of falling ill. If you’re interested in learning more about acupuncture, take a look at 10 health benefits of acupuncture for your mind and body.
What Is Acupuncture & How Does It Work?
Acupuncture is an ancient practice rooted in Chinese medicine where very thin needles are inserted into specific points throughout the body to balance the body’s energy, stimulate healing, and promote relaxation. It’s based on the idea that there’s a blockage or disturbance in the flow of the body’s life energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”). By balancing the body, mind, and spirit, and restoring overall energy balance, it’s believed that acupuncture can help people achieve optimal wellness without medication or surgical procedures.
Acupuncturists insert needles at specific positions along the patient’s body that align with energy points. This releases endorphins and other hormones, and triggers the body’s natural healing capabilities, helping restore balance to the mind and body. There are hundreds of acupoints in your body along 14 major meridians, also called energy-carrying channels. The needles stimulate your body’s central nervous system to react to an illness or symptom, rebalance your body, and release natural chemicals and neurotransmitters.
10 Surprising Health Benefits of Acupuncture
1. Reduced Stress and Anxiety
If you’ve been feeling stressed out, consider acupuncture for relief. Restoring energy balance and triggering nervous system responses is key to lowering the body’s stress reaction. Acupuncture has been found to lower stress hormones like cortisol and boost your feel-good hormones like endorphins, helping to reduce feelings of anxiety. It also releases other feel-good chemicals that signal to the body that it’s safe, and can relax and turn off its stress response.
2. Pain Management
One of the most well-known uses of acupuncture is for pain relief and pain management. It’s been found to be effective in reducing chronic pain conditions such as back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis, migraines, and menstrual cramps. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals, relieving your body of soreness and discomfort.
3. Digestive Support
Digestive problems such as constipation, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome are common, and can negatively affect your overall wellness. By balancing the nervous system, acupuncture balances the gut and improves function. This process decreases pain and inflammation and regulates acid production and natural peristalsis. It helps regulate digestive health and offers relief from stomach issues.
4. Better Sleep
Sleep is crucial for your overall health and performance throughout the day, but it doesn’t come easily to everyone. Acupuncture promotes better sleep quality by calming the mind and relaxing the body. It can release melatonin, the sleepy hormone, as well as serotonin, which is responsible for regulating many functions including mood and sleep. Acupuncture can be beneficial for individuals with insomnia, sleep disturbances, sleep apnea, and menopausal night sweats.
5. Boosted Immune System
Acupuncture is thought to modulate the immune system, potentially improving the body’s defence mechanisms against infections and diseases. It supports the body’s natural immune system responses, making your body stronger in fighting off viruses and bacteria. This makes you less likely to fall ill.
6. Headache and Migraine Relief
Although acupuncture is good for pain relief overall, it’s been shown to be especially effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of headaches and migraines. Needles are usually placed in various pressure points, including along your head and neck, and it’s often accompanied by a head massage. The needles release endorphins and other hormones, stimulating the circulatory system, which helps weaken headache pain.
7. Improved Eye Health
Due to the increase of reliance on technology and screens, eye strain is becoming more and more common. Acupuncture is sometimes used as an alternative treatment for eye health problems, such as eye strains and dry eye syndrome. Eye acupuncture focuses on promoting circulation of Qi and blood around the eyes. It can cause a reduction in the temperature of the eye surface that helps reduce the evaporation of tears throughout the day. It’s also sometimes used to treat glaucoma.
8. Menstrual Health
Acupuncture is commonly used to address menstrual irregularities, infertility, and menopausal symptoms. It helps balance the hormones associated with menses, including estrogen, testosterone, FSH, and AMH. When hormones are balanced, the feedback loop between the brain and the ovaries begins to regulate, and ovulation and menstruation can occur. It also helps combat irregular periods by improving blood circulation, reducing stress, and regulating the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems.
9. Support for Cancer Patients
Acupuncture is sometimes used alongside conventional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, to help manage treatment side effects like nausea, fatigue, and pain. It can also aid in improving overall well-being and quality of life for cancer patients.
10. Controlling Blood Pressure
High blood pressure levels are on the rise, especially with high stress jobs and higher obesity levels. Regular acupuncture treatment, combined with regular treatment for the cardiovascular system can help reduce blood pressure levels. Acupuncture helps support proper heart function and blood flow, helping to control blood pressure.
Are There Any Risks with Acupuncture?
Acupuncture carries little risk when it’s performed by a licensed practitioner. Sometimes bruising, fatigue, and soreness follow an acupuncture treatment, especially if it’s your first time. Acupuncture that’s performed with dirty equipment can pose a serious health risk and acupuncture needles should be single-use only. Don’t be afraid to ask your acupuncturist about their equipment to ensure it’s clean and unused.
Acupuncture is an almost risk-free procedure with plenty of benefits. If you’re dealing with any of the health issues above, consider acupuncture to help!
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