If you’re suffering from chronic pain, you’ve probably tried every treatment available – from painkillers to heat pads – but have you looked into acupuncture? When it comes to health and wellbeing this ancient Chinese process has been used to treat an array of conditions,
including some that you might find quite surprising.
Acupuncture has not typically been used in Africa, however there is an upsurge of this ancient Chinese medicine taking place, resulting in a number of acupuncture practitioners in Nigeria accepting and using the techiniques. One acupucturist, Dr Festus Essien even recently lobbied the government to integrate the technique into the country’s healthcare systems.
How does acupuncture work?
You may be aware that acupuncture involves placing very thin needles into the body’s pressure points – also known as acupoints. Causing stimulation to these areas is thought to help to body’s natural healing abilities, and in some cases enhance its function.
There are three theories about how acupuncture actually works. Ancient Chinese philosophy tells us that the body is made of opposing energy forces known as yin and yang, which flow continuously throughout the body. If yin and yang are unbalanced or the flow of energy becomes blocked, it can cause illness and pain. Using tiny needles to stimulate certain areas allows energy to flow as usual, eliminating blockages, promoting good health and enabling healing.
However, clinical experts tend to agree that acupuncture actually works by stimulating the brain and spinal cord to release the pain-dulling chemicals that also boost the body’s immune system.
A third view is that positive results witnessed by individuals who have undergone acupuncture treatments are caused by a placebo effect. Scientists are still trying to gather evidence about the likelihood of a placebo effect in acupuncture studes they perform. Either way, if you have a problem and acupuncture has the potential to solve it, it’s certainly worth a try. Take a look at some of the problems that acupuncture has been reported to alleviate.
Persistent lower back pain
Up to 80 percent of the world’s population will suffer from back pain at some point – in fact it’s one of the most common reasons why people visit their doctor. Acupuncture relating to back pain is one of the areas which has been verified through a variety of placebo-controlled studies. The Lund University Hospital in Sweden performed an acupuncture study on a group of 50 patients who had reported chronic back pain and tried a host of different solutions to no effect. The study found significant changes in the acupuncture patients – they reported lower levels of pain and many of the group were able to return to work as a result of the treatment.
Fertility issues can be incredibly stressful, but this is another area acupuncture has been used in to great effect. The process can increase the chances of getting pregnant for women who are actively trying to conceive by 65%. There are several conditions which can lead to or contribute to infertility including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Uterine Polyps and Endometriosis, all of which have been reported as being helped by acupuncture. In addition, a woman who is undergoing fertility treatment may be required to reduce her FSH levels – this is used as an indication of how many quality eggs are formed in the ovaries. Acupuncture has been well documented as being able to reduce these levels by helping to support and nourish the kidney yin energy – a deficiency in this area can hinder the production of fertile, good eggs. On top of this, lots of patients are very emotional when fertility is an issue and this often makes any problems
worse. Acupuncture can help stabilise an individual’s emotions, bringing the body back into balance, reducing stress and improving chances of conception.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight helps to avoid conditions such as heart problems. If you’re struggling with weight loss, studies have shown that combining acupuncture with your healthy eating regime can help you lose weight more effectively. It does this by stimulating the release of endorphins endorphins, making you feel good and decreasing the stress levels that so often cause comfort eating. According to a study, consuming 2,000 calories a day, walking for 15 minutes and having ear acupuncture on a weekly basis meant obese women lost weight at an average of 10 pounds. Those who didn’t have the acupuncture lost just 3 pounds on average.
If you feel like your healthy lifestyle is missing something, you could potentially benefit from an acupuncture session. It might help you lose more weight, reduce pain and generally feel better. While acupuncture might not yet be common in Nigeria, there are now a number of practitioners offering the services to treat a variety of different issues and ailments and the popularity of the treatment is certainly on the up.