Last updated on November 20th, 2019 at 03:55 am

Maybe you have a chronic inflammatory condition that causes you constant pain. Perhaps you’ve lost interest in previously enjoyable activities or feel frazzled all the time. But what if you could avail yourself of a natural cure, with few (if any) adverse effects?

Chances are, you’d welcome the opportunity, and fortunately, such a treatment has existed for thousands of years. You’ve likely heard of the ancient practice of acupuncture, which can significantly improve your quality of life by treating a number of conditions, such as the 15 outlined below.

Chronic inflammation


Millions of North Americans have chronic inflammatory diseases. These illnesses occur when the body’s immune system begins attacking healthy tissue.

Disorders in this spectrum include rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus and uveitis. These conditions can impact your quality of life significantly, and in severe cases, they can lead to disability.

Researchers in Korea recently identified a mechanism by which acupuncture stimulation at point ST36 reduces inflammation. Acupuncture works by manipulating specific points in the body, and these points stimulate the nervous system in particular ways, causing biological changes. They prompt organs to release neurotransmitters and hormones that alleviate various health conditions.

When a trained practitioner stimulates ST36 by using a needle, it activates the vagus nerve, the longest of the 12 cranial nerves. The vagus nerve runs from the base of your skull to your groin. This manipulation down-regulates tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), which regulates immune cells and can produce fever and inflammation.

When you decrease the amount of TNF-a circulating in the blood, the inflammatory response diminishes.

Chronic back pain


Illustration of hands on lower back

Millions of North Americans also suffer from chronic back pain. This agony stems from multiple causes, such as spinal stenosis and scoliosis. Regardless of whether your suffering originates from poor posture, overuse or a structural defect in the spine, this pain will cause you to experience a substantially decreased quality of life.

Acupuncture can alleviate chronic back pain by stimulating the body to release natural opioid substances that will combat your aches. The procedure can reduce your suffering by as much as 50 percent.

Best of all? You can’t overdose on acupuncture the way you can with synthetic medications. Most acupuncture sessions last approximately 30 minutes, and the needles remain inserted for just 10 to 20 minutes. The only side effects include bruising and soreness at the injection sites. That’s far more tolerable than addiction and death!

Multiple sclerosis


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a nervous system disorder during which lesions develop in the brain and spinal cord. These damaged areas of grey and white matter will impact both your muscular coordination and your visual acuity. Many people with this condition develop problems with seeing or walking.

Sadly, few methodical studies have evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture in regard to treating MS. However, there is ample anecdotal evidence to suggest it as a complementary therapy to allopathic medications.

The procedure does treat many common complications of MS, such as bladder spasticity and gait disorders. Many recipients report that they feel a sense of relaxation and calmness after getting the needles, although some also report that their nervous system feels overly stimulated.

Dementia


Researchers have discovered a connection between dementia and inflammation in the brain. Approximately 80 percent of patients with the disorder experience behavioural changes that impact their ability to perform daily tasks.

As mentioned above, acupuncture can alleviate inflammation, and regular treatments may potentially stave off dementia altogether. Many patients with the disease also use medications to control their symptoms, but many medical practitioners recommend the use of drug-free methods first, unless the patient is at risk of harming themselves or others.

Migraines


Do you think migraine disease consists of “just a headache?” In reality, the word “migraine” spans a spectrum of neurological disorders that can lead to various symptoms—head pain doesn’t always occur, but affected patients can experience nausea, fatigue, confusion, aphasia and a loss of motor control. In severe cases, coma and death can result.

In one Italian study, both medication and acupuncture were found to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. However, only the patients who received acupuncture reported that their pain levels also went down.

Other studies compared the efficacy of genuine therapy with “sham” acupuncture. Patients receiving the placebo version of acupuncture reported minimal decreases in pain, while those who underwent the real deal were able to lower their pain levels significantly.

Irritable bowel syndrome


Since acupuncture stimulates the vagus nerve, it helps alleviate the suffering of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other gastrointestinal disorders. Experts consider the vagus nerve a modulator of the brain-gut axis in both psychiatric and inflammatory diseases.

So what does this mean in practical terms? Even if your abdominal discomfort stems from psychological factors—for instance, dealing with layoffs at work or coping with a painful divorce—acupuncture can bring relief. Because of the decreased inflammatory response, even people with diseases like ulcerative colitis are able to experience relief from this therapy.

Chronic fatigue


Scientists disagree about what chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is and what causes it. Some researchers suspect that it’s caused by the long-term infection of the body by specific viruses, such as the Epstein-Barr virus. Others point to hormonal imbalances.

Regardless of the cause, people with CFS rarely feel well-rested, even when they’ve had a full night’s sleep. A review of 31 randomized, controlled trials revealed that acupuncture alleviates the symptoms of CFS more effectively than other treatments, such as those that involve herbs. While physicians want further research to back up this claim, undergoing treatment may result in higher energy levels.

Arthritis


Acupuncture can help with all types of arthritis, not just the rheumatoid variety that stems from inflammation. This relief occurs due to the natural opioid-like substances the body releases after treatment.

With osteoarthritis, for example, a person’s cartilage (or cushioning between the joints) becomes eroded. Without this protective layer, the nerves send pain signals when bones rub together. Fortunately, one 2018 meta-analysis found that the results from acupuncture endure over time and effectively treat pain, while the placebo effect doesn’t adequately explain this relief.

Reproductive disorders


Have you and your partner struggled to conceive? While acupuncture can’t cure every cause of infertility, it can help alleviate some common causes.

For instance, if you have endometriosis and have uterine scarring as a result, acupuncture won’t reverse the damage directly; however, it can create favourable conditions for healing, such as giving the endometrium a thick, blood-rich lining. Additionally, the procedure can help correct hormonal imbalances that lead to disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Cancer


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the cure for the Big C came in microfilament needle form? While acupuncture won’t cure cancer, it can help patients through the recovery process. Many common chemotherapy drugs cause nausea and vomiting, but acupuncture can alleviate this distress by stimulating the vagus nerve.

Immunity


Sick person in office

Is this year’s flu virus making the rounds at the office? If so, you might want to book an appointment with a local acupuncturist. Acupuncture stimulates specific areas of the central nervous system that are responsible for kicking your immunity into high gear. It causes an increase in a person’s levels of interferon, a hormone that sends chemical messages that tell the body to fight infection.

Stress


Are you stressed out at work or at home? If so, you run a higher risk of developing everything from cardiovascular disease to Type 2 diabetes. Prolonged tension puts pressure on your veins and arteries, and it can also drive you to engage in unhealthy habits, such as overeating and substance abuse. On the other hand, acupuncture can help relieve your stress and leave you with an enhanced sense of well-being.

Insomnia


Sleeplessness isn’t only for Seattle anymore! One out of every four Americans actually experiences insomnia at some point. While you won’t die from tossing and turning occasionally, you may lose the ability to focus. Exhaustion also creates a dour mood.

Acupuncture can help relieve insomnia by restoring the balance of the sleep hormone melatonin, the one that helps ease you into dreamland. Exposure to blue light from computer and cell phone screens, which many of us deal with on a daily basis, unfortunately inhibits the release of this natural chemical.

Anxiety


Many Americans have an anxiety disorder. People with social anxiety experience a racing heart and sweaty palms at the mere thought of the holiday office bash, while those with generalized anxiety disorder feel on edge all the time and may suffer panic attacks.

According to traditional Chinese medical beliefs, acupuncture stimulates the flow of chi, or vital energy, through the body. Whether or not you subscribe to this idea, anecdotal evidence supports this therapy as an effective one to be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.

Check with your insurance company—acupuncture is so mainstream now, your insurer may cover the procedure.

Depression


Have you lost pleasure in previously enjoyable activities? Do you feel like your life lacks meaning? You may have depression, a disorder affecting 16 million American adults—more than 5 percent of the population.

Even if you’re receiving prescription medications to treat your condition, acupuncture can increase the efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), so you may get better results from combining the two therapies. If you add talk therapy and a support network to your treatment plan, you should feel more like your old self quite quickly!

Acupuncture can give you a new lease on life


Whether you have a mental disorder, a physical illness or both, acupuncture can enhance the effectiveness of your current treatment regimen. On its own, it’s also a successful remedy for many ailments. Since the risks are so minimal, what do you have to lose besides unnecessary suffering?

Medical disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Please refer to the full text of our medical disclaimer.

«RELATED READ» GETTING TO THE POINT: A conversation with an acupuncturist»


image 1: Pixabay; 2: Pixabay; 3: hermzz

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!