Why you should consider acupuncture

Acupuncture has been clinically ascertained as safe and effective in the relief of chronic pain as a stand-alone or adjunct therapy.

Full article here: Acupuncture for Pain – The American Journal of Medicine 2015

“Approximately one-third of Americans suffer from chronic pain, debilitating affected individuals and families and costing the US economy more than half a trillion dollars annually. Millions fail to find adequate relief through commonly  prescribed medical interventions. Many of these treatment options, moreover, carry considerable financial costs or risk of side effects. Patients seeking relief through less expensive, less toxic, and more holistic approaches may turn to various forms of complementary and alternative medicine. And yet, such alternative interventions generally lack robust clinical evidence to support their efficacy and often extend beyond the purview of mainstream medicine. Consequently, many doctors hesitate to recommend such treatments, leaving patients to find care on their own. Unlike most complementary and alternative medicine options, acupuncture has been clinically ascertained as safe and effective in the relief of chronic pain as a stand-alone or adjunct therapy. Despite potential side effects (eg, infection and local hematoma), the Joint Clinical Practice Guideline of the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society recognizes  acupuncture as a viable treatment for several forms of chronic pain; the Canadian and European guidelines echo the same sentiment. Regardless, in our experience, many a practitioner tends to equate the therapeutic benefits to “mere” placebo effects and thus relegates acupuncture to the fringes of clinical medicine.

Whether or not acupuncture operates largely via placebo mechanisms, research findings propose that real and sham acupuncture may outperform standard medical care. As such, the clinical outcomes are sound according to standards of evidence-based medicine, let alone patient experience. Pain is highly responsive to placebo treatments and contextual cues. Clinicians acknowledge that psychological factors and placebos diminish assay sensitivity for analgesics. Moreover, the dramatic role of placebos extends beyond the field of pain. For example, cumulative metaanalytic findings reveal that antidepressants – backbone drugs of modern psychiatry – are clinically comparable to placebos for the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression. As well, other common drugs, including antihypertensives, antianginals, postinfarction beta-blockers, antihistamines, and nonsteroidal asthma prophylactics, frequently  perform on par with placebos in well-designed trials.

Physicians should therefore entertain the full therapeutic spectrum of acupuncture – placebo and beyond – to foster pain regulation.”


About Acupuncture

About Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a method of supporting the body/mind systems in their own natural healing processes. Originating in East Asia over 2,000 years ago and perhaps much earlier than that, in its modern practice acupuncture forms a part of a rational, personalized, evidence-based system of effective healthcare. In addition to being used by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine often titled as “Licensed or Certified Acupuncturists”, acupuncture is practiced by Western medical doctors, veterinarians, chiropractors, and other healthcare professionals to treat people and animals with a wide variety of symptoms and conditions. Worldwide, well over one million healthcare practitioners use acupuncture to ease the suffering and restore the health and wellbeing of their patients.

How Does Acupuncture Work

Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine wires (needles) into specific spots to stimulate the body to heal itself. Traditional explanations of acupuncture involve its effect on improving the flow of qi (‘vital air/energy’ and referred to as ki by the Japanese) and on balancing Yin and Yang, a paradigm of health and disease that maps very closely to the Western concept of homeostasis. By stimulating specific points on the body with heat, pressure, or very fine needles, acupuncture practitioners are able to restore healthy function, thus resolving symptoms and reversing disease.

Due to its popularity and success in the West, a great deal of attention has been focused on elucidating how acupuncture works in terms of Western physiology. Based on classical descriptions overlain with modern understanding, we now know that qi flow corresponds to nerve transmission, connective tissue planes, metabolic components carried in blood such as oxygen, hormones, neurotransmitters and nutrients as well as the functional energy of an organ system, depending on the context in which it is used. Acupuncture has been demonstrated to regulate and improve the function of all of these components, which are so integral to health. In essence, acupuncture seems to “grease the wheels” of the dynamics of body/mind self-regulating functions.

In terms of physiology and biochemistry, acupuncture has been shown to stimulate nerves and connective tissue resulting in profound effects on the nervous system including regulation of key areas of the brain. This improved function results in the body producing its own natural chemicals involved in pain relief and the reduction of inflammation as well as releasing neurotransmitters that create a feeling of relaxation and well-being. Advanced techniques such as fMRI brain imaging and proteomics are continuing to add to a deeper understanding of how acupuncture helps the body to heal itself.

The Practice of Acupuncture

From its ancient roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine, modern acupuncture now finds itself used in a diverse set of healthcare contexts. Acupuncture is now used by physiotherapists and chiropractors to treat musculoskeletal pain, by medical doctors to treat migraines and nausea, by midwives to assist with births, by the U.S. Military to aid in the safe transport of wounded soldiers and by drug and alcohol support workers to help treat addiction. Many different styles of practice and traditions exist, including TCM, Five Elements, Japanese acupuncture, Stems & Branches, Western Medical Acupuncture and many others. Because it is so safe when practiced by qualified practitioners and it uses the body’s own healing mechanisms, it lends itself to inclusion in a diverse array of healthcare contexts.