Author: Michelle Schoffro Cook
Excerpt from: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-health-benefits-of-regular-acupuncture.html

According to Chinese legend, wounded soldiers who were struck with arrows often recovered from the puncture wound to discover other afflictions had also gone. And, so began the art of acupuncture. Since its inception over 5000 years ago, there have been thousands of research studies proving the healing effects of needling the body in specific locations.

The idea behind acupuncture is that there are hundreds of points or acupoints that surface on the skin of the body. These wells of energy are connected below the surface like rivers of energy; however, blockages caused from injury, infection, stress, poor diet, or other factor, causes these rivers of energy, or meridians, as they are called to become blocked. Similar to a dam, the energy stops flowing properly and the result is any number of possible health problems, including: pain, inflammation, fatigue, and illness. To restore health, practitioners of Chinese medicine needle specific points to free the flow of energy, thereby alleviating any of the possible illness symptoms along with the energy blockage.

Because restoring energy flow in the body can alleviate a wide variety of possible symptoms and health conditions, acupuncture can be beneficial for almost any health condition. Most people feel a sense of deep relaxation during the treatment and often a boost in energy afterward. They may experience a reduction in pain and an improvement in sleep quality.

In 1979, The World Health Organization (WHO) originally published a list of conditions that can be healed by regular acupuncture treatments, and then refined the list based on scientific proof of the effectiveness of acupuncture for certain health conditions. According to WHO, regular acupuncture has been proven to improve the following list of conditions or symptoms:

  • Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Biliary colic
  • Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  • Dysentery, acute bacillary
  • Dysmenorrhoea, primary
  • Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
  • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • Headache
  • Hypertension, essential
  • Hypotension, primary
  • Induction of labour
  • Knee pain
  • Leukopenia
  • Low back pain
  • Malposition of fetus, correction of
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Postoperative pain
  • Renal colic
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Sprain
  • Stroke
  • Tennis elbow

The World Health Organization also found that there are a wide variety of other conditions that benefit from acupuncture but additional research is needed. These additional 63 conditions include:

  • Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
  • Acne vulgaris
  • Alcohol dependence and detoxification
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Cancer pain
  • Cardiac neurosis
  • Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Competition stress syndrome
  • Craniocerebral injury, closed
  • Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
  • Earache
  • Epidemic haemorrhagic fever
  • Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)
  • Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
  • Female infertility
  • Facial spasm
  • Female urethral syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
  • Gastrokinetic disturbance
  • Gouty arthritis
  • Hepatitis B virus carrier status
  • Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
  • Hyperlipaemia
  • Hypo-ovarianism
  • Insomnia
  • Labour pain
  • Lactation, deficiency
  • Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
  • Ménière disease
  • Neuralgia, post-herpetic
  • Neurodermatitis
  • Obesity
  • Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pain due to endoscopic examination
  • Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein–Leventhal syndrome)
  • Postextubation in children
  • Postoperative convalescence
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Prostatitis, chronic
  • Pruritus
  • Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
  • Raynaud syndrome, primary
  • Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Retention of urine, traumatic
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sialism, drug-induced
  • Sjögren syndrome
  • Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
  • Spine pain, acute
  • Stiff neck
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • Tietze syndrome
  • Tobacco dependence
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis, chronic
  • Urolithiasis
  • Vascular dementia
  • Whooping cough (pertussis)

Keep in mind that there are different styles of acupuncture, typically divided under two main classifications: scientific or traditional Chinese methods. Scientific acupuncture is the form practiced by many chiropractors, physiotherapists, and other medical professionals in the West and tends to primarily involve needling points in the area of the pain or affliction. For example, needling the points around the knee if the knee is injured or inflamed. More traditional Chinese methods may involve needling the points around the knee but may also involve points that seem completely unrelated on other parts of the body.

Also, acupuncture needles are much finer than those used for other medical procedures like vaccinations. Most people barely feel them but if you’re still not comfortable with the idea of needles, you can reap many of the same health benefits with regular acupressure treatments (using finger pressure on acupoints instead of needles.

Avoid using acupuncture if you have a bleeding disorder (like hemophilia), are taking blood thinners, are pregnant, or are prone to abrupt falls in blood pressure.

MK Park, our licensed Acupuncturist at Mana Physical Therapy, can help with any of these conditions, as well as those that are more complicated. He is currently treating all day on Fridays. Call 732-390-8100 today to set up your appointment!