7 Ways Acupuncture Can Improve Health

by Amanda Page Editor

Acupuncture began as a traditional Chinese technique involving the balance and flow of energy or life through the pathways of the body. But today, many Western practitioners believe that acupuncture stimulates nerves, tissue and muscles to boost blood flow and natural painkillers. Medical acupuncture, involving the insertion of very thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body, is increasingly being considered as an effective treatment for a range of medical conditions.

Stress relief

Acupuncture can help relieve stress and anxiety, according to new research from Georgetown University. Researchers examined the effects of acupuncture on levels a blood protein that is secreted during ‘flight or fight.’ Using electroacupuncture, scientists measured a decrease in the protein levels, which indicated a sort of protective barrier to stress.

Chronic pain relief

Acupuncture can reduce pain by altering the brain’s perception and processing of pain. Researchers have captured images of the brain while patients experienced a pain stimulus, both with and without acupuncture. Pain perception was reduced in the pain processing region of the brain while subjects were undergoing acupuncture.

Cancer relief

Those suffering from specific cancers can benefit from acupuncture. In leukemia patients, acupuncture has been shown to slow the progression of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy–pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, and muscle fatigue. In breast cancer patients, acupuncture improved sex drive and reduced joint pain.

Fosters a healthy pregnancy

Research shows that acupuncture can reduce depression and indigestion during pregnancy, and may even boost the success of in vitro fertilization. Hormonal changes during pregnancy also frequently result in heartburn and upset stomach, which likewise can be helped by regular acupuncture treatments.

Better sleep

Some reports show that acupuncture has a 90 percent success rate when it comes to insomnia because certain pressure points encourage an increase of the sleep-inducing hormone serotonin. Conversely, a study from the University of Michigan shows that certain pressure points were shown to reduce sleepiness and encourage alertness.

Parkinson's disease

A recent study revealed that acupuncture reactivates some parts of the brain that have become deactivated by the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Researchers found that acupuncture encourages neural responses in the brain regions associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Hay fever

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is caused by seasonal allergens such as pollen, pet dander or dust mites, which cause itchy eyes and a stuffy nose. A recent study shows that acupuncture may provide temporary relief for such allergies, although scientists aren’t sure exactly why.

Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

This pose may look simple, but it requires intense focus and a quiet mind to hold balance, which is precisely why this a good pose for stress relief. The attention and focus needed to balance with one leg raised 90 degrees with one hand on the floor acts as a form of meditation by freeing your mind.

Amanda Page
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Amanda Page

Amanda was an editor and graphic designer for HealthCentral.