Understanding the Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Acupuncture

While acupuncture is not for everyone, studies do show that it offers a variety of mental and physical health benefits.

From de-stressing your mind to treating and healing physical injuries, acupuncture has worked wonders on some people over the years. That being said, if you choose to see an acupuncturist, make sure to discuss it with your doctor first and find a practitioner who is licensed with the proper training and credentials.

What is acupuncture?

During an acupuncture session, sterile needles are inserted at anatomical points on or in the skin by a certified acupuncturist. These small hair-thin needles are applied manually or through electrical stimulation. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates acupuncture needles just as it does other medical devices under good manufacturing practices and single-use standards of sterility.

The application of these needles generates biomedical responses at the affected body part or where the needle is applied. It benefits the patient’s body by stimulating sensory neurons that send messages to the central nervous system.

Some acupuncture therapists use other forms of stimulation, including:

  • Heat (moxibustion)
  • Friction
  • Pressure (acupressure)
  • Impulses of electromagnetic energy
  • Suction (cupping)

Physical health benefits of acupuncture

Acupuncture has often proven to treat and heal physical injuries due to accidents, sports, or aging. Some of the common conditions that people turn to acupuncture to address include:

  • Leg pain
  • Ankle and feet pain
  • Arm pain
  • Wrist and hand pain
  • Tennis elbow pain
  • Knee pain
  • Hip pain
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Jaw pain (TMJ)
  • Sciatica
  • Repetitive strain injuries

To help relieve these pains, the stimulation of the needles helps by releasing endorphins (the natural chemicals that fight pain). Also, acupuncture benefits people suffering from arthritis, myofascial pain syndrome, tendonitis, dental pain, and post-operative pain.

Acupuncture can also be used to treat allergies, hypertension, respiratory disorders, and other physical discomforts. This is due to the fact that it helps the brain increase the body’s level of T-cells, which destroy harmful viruses and bacteria in the body.

Mental health benefits of acupuncture

Alternative forms of medicine, including acupuncture, have been gaining popularity in recent years, especially among those who seek natural treatment methods. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety are some of the mental health disorders that acupuncture can help treat. 

Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of this type of natural treatment is that it can reduce a patient’s dependency on drugs or medications for prolonged medical treatments, thus improving their overall health and well-being. Acupuncture can even activate the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, which helps treat other ailments in patients.

The impact of acupuncture on your sleep

We have all heard that a healthy diet and regular exercise are essential to your cardiovascular health, but did you know the quality of sleep you receive each night is also important for your heart’s wellbeing?

Not giving your body proper time to unwind as well as the recommended amount of sleep (seven to nine hours) can lead to an increased amount of stress and anxiety.

Fortunately, some sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea can also be treated using acupuncture. This is because it has been known to increase the production of melatonin, which helps you sleep. It also reduces anxiety, which further improves the quality and length of sleep.

Learn more about the dangers of sleep apnea in our blog, Understanding Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Treatment to Regain Restful Sleep.

How acupuncture provides stress relief

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Natural treatments like massage therapy and acupuncture are notable for providing effective forms of stress relief. It can relieve stress that builds up over time; in many cases, this level of stress can lead to more rapid breathing and increased heart rate. Acupuncture can restore healthy flow of energy throughout the body through the use of needles, while massage therapy targets certain muscles to relieve tension.

Interested in learning more stress relief tactics? Check out our blog, How to Ease Stress and Cope With Anxiety.

A safe and effective natural therapy

When performed by a licensed and trained practitioner, acupuncture can be a safe and effective therapy to assist in a variety of mental and physical ailments. However, it’s not for everyone. Speak with your primary healthcare provider before starting any new treatment to find out if this is the best fit for your needs or if other actions need to be taken. 

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