No one really knows how acupuncture works but it works, nonetheless. Actually, a lot of the so-called natural alternative treatments, Western medical science has a hard time explaining how and why they work in treating a wide range of health problems
In the United States, there are more than 12,000 acupuncturists certified and licensed by the NCCAOM (National Commission for Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), with around 34% of them medical doctors.
The NCCAOM reports that more people availed themselves of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine)than Western conventional treatments.Their statistics show that 388 million visited family doctors while around 430 million opted for 425 million visits to CAM treatments.
The Ruhr University Bochum conducted a study led by Dr. Heinz Endres that compared the effects of acupuncture, Western medicine and placebo on more than a thousand participants who were all suffering from low back pain. The patients were divided into three groups. One group was given placebo comprised of injection of a saline solution of water or oral intake of sugar pills). The second group was treated with Western modes of treatment including injections, drugs, etc. The last group was administered with acupuncture treatment.
The researchers were attempting to manage extreme lower back pain. The outcomes were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on its September 24 2007 issue.
At the end of the study,Dr. Endresstated that the magnitude of the pain of the patients was not only alleviated, they also experienced improvements in disability that usually accompanies backpain. This means there was an improvement in the quality of life of the patients.
In the group treated with acupuncture, 47% of the patients showed qualitative betterment in pain symptoms six months after the end of the study, compared to just 27% of the patients treated with conventional Western medicine including massage or heat therapy, injections, and painkillers. This is almost twice rate of success of doctors, right?
There are researchers who believe that acupuncture’s secret les in its ability to disrupt pain messages processed by the brain, by providing competing stimuli. An insertion of a needle may seem to be the competing stimuli that affect the back pain signals from creating a feedback loop.
Some researchers believe that the painless twisting of the needles releases in the body, its own feel-good chemicals like endomorphins,enkephalins, and endorphins that remove pain both in the mind and body.
Placebo is a fake treatment or sham procedure and may be in the form of an inactive injection or pill in order to test the effects of another treatment or substance. Placebo can also include the interaction betweenthe doctor and patient and how the beliefs and expectations of the patient can result in positive mental and bodily effects.
In the above mentioned study, the needles were not stuck at the depth(under the skin) needed for effective treatment, or inserted into certain meridian pointsin order to balance the body’s energy flow.
One common mistake that occurs during an acupuncture procedure is when the needles are not manipulated which should be the appropriate protocol for a truly effective acupuncture treatment. And long before the benefits of Western medical treatment has dissipated, the effects of acupuncture can linger on for a very long time
These Complaints Are Treated with Acupuncture
Acupuncturists often hear and treat patients suffering from various types of conditions including sinus discomfort, arthritis, bursitis, sciatica, and migraine headaches. Some patients even report of prostate symptoms improving with acupuncture. Acupuncture may be considered placebo by a lot of skeptics, the pain, however, is usually completely eliminated
The sister treatment of acupuncture is acupressure,which involves the application of manual pressure, instead of needles into the acupoints in order to heal a condition. Ancient Chinese healers began practicing acupressure more than 2,000 years ago. They were able to create charts showing the location of the 2,000 acupointson the body. They also showed that the body has 12 main energy channels (meridians) and eight secondary meridians.
The meridians are vessels where the bioelectrical energy in the body known as Qi flows. This flow needs to be in balance for the body to enjoy mental and physical health. It gets better – the unbalanced (impaired) or tired Qi are moved by the needles to help rectify the compatible ratio of Yin and Yang.
While Yin balances the negative energy forces, Yang claims to manage the positive energy of the body and mind. The proper balance of yin and yang is allegedly based on the continuous flow of oxygen and blood and immune systems such as B cells (Bone Marrow), T cells (Thymus) ,and the Natural Killer cells (leukocytes).
Scientists still do not know or understand how the painless pricking of tiny needles leads to the healing of a condition. But then again,these people who can send astronauts into space are still unaware of the site or basis of human consciousness even in 2015.
Doctors in America first got to know about acupuncture when James Reston, a New York Times reporterin 1971 reported his experience with the procedure in China. He witnessed the use of acupuncture needles to quell postsurgical stomach pain in China.
After the publishing of that article a later Gallup poll in 1971 showed 97% of US doctors were highly skeptical of acupuncture and deemed it to be a form of witchcraft. A question in the poll asked whether the physician ever experienced or heard of acupuncture. The poll results show that an astonishing 98.8% never even heard the name of acupuncture in 1971.
These days, the National Institute of Health (NIH) endorses acupuncture as a valid medical technique. Now, for practicing US doctors, it is a highly recommendedform of complementary treatment.
The fact is, the NIH states that acupuncture lessens the side effects of highly toxic medications and helps relieve lower back pain. But does the medical community, in general,recommend it or use it/ NO.
Mu Opioid Receptors
During pain, the brain manufactures and releases an internal opium known as opioid. An opiate is a synthetic narcotic that occurs naturally and it resembles morphine or opium. It attaches itself to the opiate receptor on a neuron surface in order to relieve pain.
There are three forms of opioid receptors: Delta, Kappa, and Mu and they all help relieve pain. They are found in your brain, specifically, in the hypothalamus, thalamus, and cerebral cortex. They generate a painkilling effect when activated, to help manage mental and physical pain.
And Get This
The activity of your Mu Opioid Receptor results in a connection between Nocebos, Placebos, and hypnosis. Herbert Benson, M.D., a researcher from Harvard suggests that the benefits produced by meditation (enhancing your immune systems) may be due to the release of the opioids of the brain.
Also, you can activate your opioids with your own free will through various strategies. If you can meditate and relax each day for a few minutes, you can easily manage chronic pain.
More than 84% of Americans will experience lower back pain, and later in life, may experience other permanent or temporary degenerative pain including arthritis and bursitis. If you want a drug-free way to manage pain, acupuncture is the right way to go.
Studies have indicated that hypnosis can be used to activate the Mu Opioid Receptors. According to the AMA (American Medical Association), hypnosis is a recognized medical therapy that can accelerate the healing of the body and the relief of pain.
Hypnosis is still being ridiculed by some physicians, who also happen to distrust acupuncture. When it comes to treatment of your body and mind, one must do research and exercise discretion about who to believe.