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10 facts you need to know about acupuncture and its benefits

Today is international World Acupuncture Awareness Day – a day to celebrate a complementary treatment that goes back at least 2,000 years to Ancient China and is increasingly being used in an integrative approach to wellbeing.

Yet despite the growing universal regard for acupuncture, the practice and effects of the treatment are still misunderstood by too many people, which means misconceptions around its benefits continue to persist.

So, World Acupuncture Awareness Day seems like the perfect time to revisit the power of acupuncture and its healing qualities. But before that, let’s also put a pin into some of the myths around this ancient Chinese medicine, starting with the most common one:

I’ve heard that acupuncture is painful

When applied by a properly trained, qualified and experienced therapist, acupuncture should be completely painless. In fact, many of my patients say their acupuncture experience is pleasant – and I’m often rewarded by my patients becoming so relaxed during their treatment that they fall asleep.

The process of acupuncture uses superfine and specially designed needles that are inserted into the skin at strategic points on the body. This re-energises the natural healing energy that we all have, and which is known in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as qi (pronounced chee).

If you are hypersensitive to pain, then it’s possible that you may feel some discomfort, but this is extremely rare, and the chances are you will be aware of your hypersensitivity anyway.

Acupuncture isn’t effective

There is now growing evidence, through studies and research programmes that, far from being non-effective, acupuncture can achieve remarkable results when used for a wide range of emotional and physical conditions.

More and more GPs are now beginning to understand the value of acupuncture as a complementary treatment used alongside clinical care, which is resulting in increasing instances of GP recommendations for their patients to consider it as an additional treatment option.

So, with those two most common misconceptions dealt with let’s turn to what I think are the 10 key benefits of acupuncture treatment.

1. Acupuncture is relaxing

Many, if not most of us, suffer with stress at times. For some, this is a transitory state, for others stress is a permanent fixture in life. I’ve sort of dealt with this in talking about the misconceptions above – but it’s always worth repeating the fact that acupuncture is great at calming the nervous system.

2. Acupuncture can aid better sleep

Sleep deprivation harms health and quality of life and pharmaceutical solutions come with potentially harmful side effects. As a holistic treatment, acupuncture helps the body to resolve sleep issues and their causes naturally.

3. Acupuncture boosts energy

Most of us live life at full pelt – and it’s tiring! Fatigue is one of the most common issues I see in the clinic – whether as the problem in its own right, or as a symptom of something else. Exercise and diet play an important part in resolving fatigue, but acupuncture nourishes qi and enhances energy – and it’s better for you than coffee.

4. Acupuncture treats acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Whether you’re recovering from surgery or injury, or you just have that nagging but chronic back, neck or knee pain, acupuncture helps repair tissue and reduce discomfort by increasing blood flow and allowing nutrients, oxygen, hormones, and naturally occurring chemicals like endorphins and enkephalins to be delivered to damaged tissue.

5. Acupuncture is good for resolving headaches:

Acupuncture is highly effective in relieving all types of headache pain – from common hormone-induced and tension headaches to migraine pain. Many acupuncture patients report having fewer and milder headaches after treatment, with many also finding their headaches stop completely with regular acupuncture treatment.

6. Acupuncture improves mood

There is a growing and concerning trend for GPs to prescribe by default anti-depressants to treat problems with mood – many of which can often be addressed more simply and naturally. Acupuncture is safe and effective in treating mood problems, either alone or in tandem with clinical treatment.

7. Acupuncture boosts your immune system

This is probably my favourite benefit, because it gets to the heart of what acupuncture can do. In the end, what we all really want is for our bodies to heal themselves, and by boosting your immune response, this is what acupuncture sets out to do. Having a more effective and more responsive immune system means faster and more natural healing.

A rebalanced immune system helps patients with allergies like hay fever, autoimmune diseases, frequent colds, and respiratory issues.

8. Acupuncture helps with digestive issues.

Healthy digestion is the foundation of traditional Chinese medicine because it affects all other areas of health and poor digestion generates sickness. Acupuncture helps the body to better regulate metabolism and the digestive process to improve gut health.

9. Acupuncture can help menstruation and menopausal issues

Acupuncture is great for the effective treatment and management of women’s health generally and menstruation and menopausal issues particularly. Acupuncture addresses the hormonal imbalances that can cause infertility, fibroids, endometriosis, perimenopause, heavy or painful periods, and monthly irregularities.

10. Acupuncture improves overall wellness.

Remember I said acupuncture is a holistic treatment? That’s why so many patients who receive acupuncture regularly – whether monthly or quarterly – enjoy better long-term wellness.

Regular preventative acupuncture gives patients more energy, a better sense of well-being, and fewer illnesses than those who only come to the clinic when they experience a specific health issue.

These are the ten key benefits of acupuncture – but there are so many more, too. With different treatment methods (electro-acupuncture and acupressure, for example) and different specialisms, such as ear acupuncture, there’s a treatment that’s suitable for almost everyone.

If you’d like to find out more about acupuncture and how it can help you to enjoy better overall health, why not get in touch for an informal chat? I’d love to hear from you.

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