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Acupuncture as an Alternative Medical Treatment

Sometimes tender loving care is all you need to feel in the pink, but taking out the needles may be a better solution for many health conditions. Not in form of flu shots or other vaccines, but the good old Chinese practice, called acupuncture. Vague feelings of tension and anxiety as well as depression and extreme exhaustion can be successfully healed over time with regular acupuncture appointments. And lately, many cancer patients are thinking about using this age-old technique as an alternative medicine. You may find yourself avoiding any alternative treatments if you are a firm believer in modern science and conventional medical practice. But then again, more researches every day prove the fact that these ancient healing methods didn’t survive the test of time for nothing. Ancient China had all important questions answered before we did. So it would be logical to assume that these holistic healers know the human body and its functions better than any western doctor.

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How Does Acupuncture Works?

Sticking needles into specific points of the body have a medical background and it’s not a voodoo technique made up to promote some false doctrine. These points are called acupoints and there are several hundreds of them all over and inside the body. If you are afraid if needles, you should know that not every acupuncture treatment will require needle conduct, even though most of them are not even a tad painful. The acupuncture needles are hair thin and the insertion is never as deep as vaccination. For those with Aichmophobia, laser acupuncture, acupressure and sonopuncture are available, but your doctor will explain which treatment will be most effective for your ailment. Once these acupoints are stimulated, numerous biological responses take place in the body. The response might occur locally or close to the site of the application, but for most diseases, sensory neurons are triggered in order to activate different parts of the nervous system. In most cases, the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus are mainly activated, resulting in altered neuro-hormones and neurotransmitter secretion. This type of acupuncture stimulation can lower your fever and regulate your blood flow. However, sometimes the acupuncture treatment may cause the unusual analgesic effect, which generally means that opioid peptides are released during the stimulation of certain acupuncture points. Many systematic changes might occur with regular acupuncture treatments and most health conditions cured and modified.

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The Concept behind Acupuncture

Holistic practitioners are treating the patient as a whole. Whichever the cause of the discomfort is, the acupuncturist knows that all physical ailments equally affect the emotional domain, and vice versa. The health condition of each patient is evaluated according to the condition of his spirit, essence, energy, blood, fluids and organs. Each of us has energy called Qi in Chinese medicine, which flows through our body like a river. There are fourteen main channels which transfer this energy within the body and more than 365 acupoints which can be accessed through the surface, or the skin. Depending on your condition the acupuncturist can determine which energy channel or acupoint is blocked and thus stopping the natural flow of your vital energy and causing the illness. A needle is used and inserted in the acupoint to unblock that stagnation, so that the body can use its own energy to heal itself. The main energy vortexes or meridians are located near the lungs, large intestines, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestines, bladder, kidney, pericardium, gallbladder, liver and there are conception vessel and governing vessel meridians, as well as one called the San Jiao Meridian. Every person has different proportions and it’s differently built, so the measurement of the points is directed by the size of the patient’s thumb. One thumb is referred as one cun, two fingers are one and a half cun and the width of four fingers is three cun.

Acupuncture for Curing Depression

Clinical depression is a chronic condition that may lead to many other more serious mental and physical problems if not treated properly and in time. We are all allowed to feel congested or inhibited at some point of our lives, but prolonged periods of melancholy and isolation will initiate many health problems. Most doctors will prescribe painkillers and antidepressants, but one study showed that pills for depression are not needed after a three month acupuncture therapy. The goal of the acupuncturist is to create a harmony within the patient and his connection with the outside world. With acupuncture, emotional problems like depression are addressed to the stagnation of the vital energy or Qi. Once this energy is not moving freely through all energy vortexes or wells, imbalance between the Ying and Yang is created. This imbalance can be physically visible, so the doctor will evaluate the patient’s voice, smell, skin tone, brightness of eyes, demeanor, posture, palpation, gait and other bodily features. For mild cases of depression, acupuncture solely might relieve the patient from all of his symptoms. The therapy will include stimulating the blood circulation, eliminating bodily dampness and phlegm, suppressing fire and curing dyspepsia. This treatment will result in reduction of insomnia and anxiety and it will elevate the patient’s moods and energy levels, improving his overall wellbeing.

Acupuncture for Migraines

Acupuncture is not the answer to your emotional problems only, but complications in the physical realm can be solved also. If most people believe acupuncture has no medical evidence for its effectiveness, curing migraines with needles was actually studied many times. 500 patients were offered this ancient Chinese treatment, half of which were treated with the traditional practice, while the rest of them were under a sham project. After one month, all patients who were treated with the real treatment and many of the placebo group reported less days with migraines. This successful result can be credited to the sensory overload of the body as well as the practice itself. When many needles are inserted in the body, the brain receives them as a pain overload and stops to receive the headaches signals. Other than sensory overload, this treatment will regulate many pain centers in the brain and stimulate the neurotransmitter functions. This type of stimuli naturally decreases painful sensations and alters the way the brain receives pain. Most patients might even fall asleep during the treatment, as the entire practice will break the cycle of pain and tension in the brain and muscles, leaving the patient deeply relaxed and stress free. Conventional medications and over-the-counter drugs might not work on patients with chronic headaches after several years, where acupuncture treatments will only increase the healing effects over time.

Acupuncture, Arthritis and Pain Relieve

The primary complaint of most arthritis patients is pain. Acupuncture has been used for more than 2000 years to relieve pain, so arthritis, any kind of joint pain, back pain and muscle stiffness can be resolved with this type of therapy. Some studies suggested that this Chinese practice can’t be used for treating arthritis, but many patients have found it to be a helpful pain relieving cure. During the treatment, several acupoints that carry the transmission of pain signals to the brain are blocked. Most arthritis patients are prescribed morphine, but with regular acupuncture appointments, this medication can be excluded from the patient’s therapy. That is because the release of endorphins is activated, which causes the same effects on the body as morphine. The muscles around the patient’s joints are the ones most gentle and susceptible to pain, characterized by swelling, redness, heat and soreness. Under stress and bad weather conditions this condition worsens. Acupuncture will not only lessen the pain by the increased production of painkilling hormones, but it will stimulate the adrenals to produce more steroids. Once the levels of steroids are naturally increased, the trigger points around the joints will be less susceptible to inflammation and pain. There are more than one form of arthritis and they all require different acupuncture treatments. Make sure you bring your medical history with you, so that the most accurate treatment can be created.

Menstrual Cramps and Acupuncture Points

The menstrual cycle can be one of the toughest periods in a woman’s month. In acupuncture there are many points that can be stimulated to make this time of the month not so throbbing. The differentiation of symptoms will be caused by stagnation of the Qi energy, blood circulation, exposure to cold environments, foods and drinks. The acupuncturist will try to resolve the Qi stagnation, balance the yin and yang energy by stimulating the liver meridian, conception vessel meridian, gallbladder and spleen meridians. Not all of them will be activated at once. The process might take a few minutes, but you also might spend an hour in the therapist's office. It all depends on the type of pain you usually experience, whether or not is dull or sharp, and of course, your overall health condition. You should let the doctor know about every symptom you experience during this time of the month, including dizziness, fainting, sore back and breasts, oversensitiveness, short temper, anger and others.

Acupuncture Points for Self-treatment

We all know how a foot rub can make you feel revitalized and fresh. That is because there are more than 30 acupoints on every foot. Although it’s not advisable to treat yourself with acupuncture, there are points you can easily find and induce the Qi trough them yourself. There are points to lessen stomach pain, shoulder stiffness, points linked to the ears, eyes, liver, kidney and many other internal organs. You can improve the blood circulation and promote quick recovery of cuts and wounds, warm your cold feet and prevent the restless leg syndrome. There are five easily accessible acupoints, but don’t take the needles out yet, because those points can be stimulated by pressure only. The blood pumped from your heart is delivered to the lower extremities though the aorta. This aorta, as it goes down is divided into arteries, two of which pass through the pelvic region. The place where your thighs are joined to the trunk, at the front side of the symphysis pubis is the first point. The soft, chubby area found at the back of your knees is the second acupoint. The BL-40 point is found in the calf muscle, but if you are not sure where to locate it exactly, you should massage your leg muscle from the bottom up. The stomach 36 point is located around four fingers down the kneecap. To find it more easily, hug your leg with your arms and hold your foot up, so that the muscle can become stiff. Count 4 to 5 fingers down from the kneecap, in the area where the muscle and the bone connect. If you can’t find the spot, move your foot in circles until the gap appears. The place behind your inner ankle bone is where the posterior and anterior tibial arteries form a network of smaller arteries and supply the foot with oxygen, blood and nutrients. Apply light pressure on all of these acupressure points and the blood flow will start to improve. The pelvic arteries have to be pressed with your thumbs, but all other above mentioned points can be stimulated by objects like bottles, pencils or by hand.

References

1. WebMD - Living with Chronic Pain http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/chronic-pain-11/alternative-treatments

2. Australian Natural Therapists Association http://www.australiannaturaltherapistsassociation.com.au/

3. Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association http://www.acupuncture.org.au/

4. The Sanctuary Alternative Therapies http://www.sanctuarybb.com/therapies/alternative-therapies/p/119

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