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14 Powerful Acupuncture Benefits To Improve Your Life

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Acupuncture is part of an ancient medical practice that originated in China more than 2000 years ago. The energetic anatomy of the body, the pathways of internal circulatory systems references another way of looking at the body. Modern practice now involves the insertion of fine, sterile, single-use, disposable needles into specific sites (acupuncture points) along the body’s energy pathways (meridians), fascial planes and circulatory vessels to clear congestion, functional stagnation and energy blockages and encourage the normal flow of blood and energy (Qi) through the body. But what are some of the acupuncture benefits?

Benefits of acupuncture

In terms of the benefits of acupuncture, according to The Acupuncture Evidence Project published by the Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association in 2017, evidence of its effects was found at various levels of 117 conditions out of the 122 conditions reviewed. After this evidence-based review of clinical literature, there was both strong and moderate evidence that acupuncture can assist in treating a wide range of mental, emotional, neurological and physical ailments. These include (but are not limited to):

Acupuncture benefits for anxiety

If you suffer from anxiety, you will know that it is an acute physiological response. The symptoms of anxiety are born of the evolutionary “fight or flight” response to danger, but anxiety occurs when there is no danger. This physiological memory of danger can create considerable distress.

According to the philosophy of Qi, physiological responses travel through your body’s meridians and can contribute to illness when restricted. In that sense, your anxiety may represent an internal imbalance that exists somewhere within the meridians.

Under those principles, your body’s physical response — shaking, sweating, hyperventilation, etc. — may be a manifestation of an imbalance or “small shock response”. Acupuncture can assist the alleviation of internal tension that gives rise to your body’s physiological response. In that way, you may find it a valuable tool in your search for emotional wellbeing.

There are a number of acupuncture benefits for anxiety, including reducing stress. Stress is similar to anxiety, but when it is adaptive it can be healthy to have a small degree of stress —it can prompt us to be productive and keep us away from danger. However, when stress becomes overwhelming, it can start to have a negative effect on our mental and physical health.

Common symptoms of stress are headaches, fatigue and muscle stiffness (often in the neck), all of which can be addressed by acupuncture. The physical complaints that accompany stress often contribute to a cycle of tension and stress so addressing those physical complaints early with acupuncture for anxiety is a great way to break the cycle.

Benefits of acupuncture for depression

It is expected that acupuncture works in multifaceted ways to generate a culminated effect of reducing the burden of mental health conditions. One of the most widely known is that acupuncture increases the secretion of endorphins, which gives us “positive” feelings, thereby reducing “negative” emotions.

Another mental health issue — depression — affects individuals, and it can be one of the most challenging mental illnesses to deal with. That’s why a holistic and multi-faceted treatment approach is necessary. Holistic treatment is a key component of Chinese medicine, which recognises the body is itself internally connected, but also connected to its environment.

Laser stimulation at acupuncture points can increase the size and pattern of neural activity in the regions of the brain which are associated with depression. By influencing the part of the brain that “feels” depressed, acupuncture is suggested to reduce the feeling of being depressed.

But other factors can cause depression. Chronic pain is one example. People with chronic pain can suffer depression at rates as high as 40 per cent, and in those cases, successful treatment of depression can depend on successful pain management. One of the benefits of acupuncture for depression is that it is known to be an effective tool in the fight against chronic pain and can therefore be a valuable element of the holistic treatment required for depression.

Numerous studies also show that acupuncture can enhance the effectiveness of certain antidepressants, helping selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) treatments work faster to increase serotonin levels. Acupuncture can also reduce the side effects of antidepressants.

Benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy

Chinese Medicine and acupuncture is concerned with the balance of yin and yang, Qi (energy flow) and blood during pregnancy. The body changes radically during pregnancy, including hormone and blood sugar levels. The muscle and fatty tissue in the body changes, as does the size and shape of the uterus. This means the direction of blood flow in the body alters, and the heart is required to work harder. Other parts of the body (organs and meridians) also need to work harder, including the spleen, liver, kidney and stomach, to ensure adequate circulation to the uterus.

In a woman’s first trimester, the body can find it difficult to rebalance itself to meet these new demands. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, anxiety, lack of energy, insomnia, heartburn, backache, frequent urination, sporting or vaginal bleeding and more. In terms of the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy, it can help with many of these unwanted symptoms. It can also set up a healthy foundation to keep a woman’s Qi and blood in harmony to nourish and support the rapid growth of their baby, the womb and lining. Here are some ways acupuncture can specifically help with some of these symptoms.

Fatigue or anaemia

Fatigue and anaemia can make a pregnant woman feel exhausted during the early weeks of pregnancy. This is because large amounts of Qi and blood are needed to nourish the uterus and internal organs, making it an extremely demanding time for a woman’s body.

Acupuncture can help by promoting the smooth flow of Qi and enhancing blood production, boosting energy levels and helping pregnant women sleep better. If symptoms like headaches or morning sickness are causing or contributing to a woman’s fatigue, then acupuncture treats the root cause of the problem to restore balance and increase energy.

Relaxation

Even though most mums-to-be are delighted with their new pregnancy, everyday life events such as stress, tension and work can take their toll. Anxiety can be a common symptom at this time, especially with first-time mums or mums who are anxious about getting to the 12th-week mark.

Acupuncture is wonderful for restoration and relaxation. It works on re-balancing the body’s energy system, having a positive knock-on effect on stress and anxiety. Acupuncture also nourishes and calms the “shen” (“spirit” or “consciousness” in Chinese Medicine), promoting good sleep and an overall feeling of wellbeing.

Morning sickness

Morning sickness during pregnancy is often dismissed as a minor side effect, but it can be debilitating for many women. In Chinese Medicine, nausea and vomiting may arise from a variety of causes. Acupuncture treatment aims to strengthen the energetic function of the digestive system and correct any underlying disharmonies in the meridians and organs of the body. Women undergoing treatment should also ensure they stay hydrated and keep their blood sugar levels stable, as this will help keep nausea under control.

Headaches

Headaches or migraines during pregnancy are a common complaint in the first trimester. They can be caused by a variety of physiological and emotional changes related to pregnancy, such as increased blood volume, hormonal changes and stress. Acupuncture can relieve pain by clearing the imbalance on the organs and channels that are linked to the pain. Treatment will often target accompanying symptoms such as nausea or vomiting and include emotional support for feelings such as anxiety, irritability or depression.

In the third trimester, a woman’s body can also benefit from acupuncture in terms of preparing their body for labour. Around the eighth month (out of ten) of pregnancy, health care professionals will be focusing even more on a baby’s position in the uterus. If a baby is in the breech position (meaning their feet are pointing down instead of up), moxibustion may be able to help turn the baby so that its head is down.

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