Acupuncture as a method of pain management is kinda something we're becoming familiar with. That said, have you ever wondered "What is it actually, like, for?"
The point came up again at a talk to an Endometriosis support group a few months ago. About half way through, (by which point I was merrily pontificating at full pelt) one brave soul decided to wonder no longer. The question? "So.... would Acupuncture help with my periods?" ..... Um... Yes!!!!
Obviously this was in terms unrelated to endometriosis, and was asked with genuine curiosity. And I was reacquainted with the knowledge that not everyone has the slightest idea what an Acupuncturist can work with you on. (ASA regulations make it illegal to say treat. So. No saying treat deal?)
In an effort to answer just that question of what Acupuncture can do for You, May I present the first 5 of 10 conditions you may not have known Acupuncturists can help with.
1 - Nausea (Including Morning Sickness)
We’ll start off with one that you may already actually know. Or at least have used! Ever tried one of those anti nausea magnet bands? They’re pretty popular, and even work some of the time!
If they did nothing for you it may have been because they weren’t actually on the right point. The point for nausea on the wrists is called Neiguan, and is about 3 fingers up from the wrist crease. So if the band was worn as the wrist it wasn’t able to work!
It works by affecting the connective tissue. In a very helpful fashion, one of the main connections to the abdomen, starts at the middle finger.
By applying needles, magnets or even just the right pressure at Neiguan, the entire line of tissue is encouraged to relax. Now unless you've just eaten something that REALLY doesn't like you, a good chunk of nausea is due to unnecessary tension in the abdomen.
Bottom line, relaxed connective tissue doesn’t make you feel sick anymore. (Hint: Magnets and Needles have a stronger effect. But you can get a certain amount just by using pressure!) Pretty cool huh?
2 - Headaches
If you’re an Acupuncture groupie, you may have been aware of the small hoohah surrounding current Migraine guidelines in the UK.
If not, the long and short of it is that there’s a fair chunk of evidence that shows Acupuncture working better as a migraine prophylaxis, than the current medications. (Plus there’s none of that side effect business). Yet it isn't mentioned in one of the most recent guideline publications. Even though it really is a great option for headache and migraine management!
(Personally I've always had amazing results with Migraine clients. It's one of my go to treatments, with clients seeing benefits almost immediately.) Although far beyond the scope of our top ten to explore why the omission, who doesn't love a bit of drama with their Health Tips?
If you’re interested in the full scoop, then I’d suggest a bimble over to this Blog by Mel Koppelman. It’s a favourite blog of mine, and her research skills are really top notch, if you'd like a bit more science.
3 - P.M.S
So technically the WHO states the research shows definitive benefit for Dysmenorrhea. Whereas it is positive, but requires further testing, for PMS. (Basically there haven't been as many studies, or the studies were smaller.) Now I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that's kinda bordering on semantics.
Dysmenorrhea is classified as painful or dysfunctional menstruation. When there isn’t an underlying cause, the general consensus is it’s most likely due to excess prostaglandins and an overactive inflammatory response. Acupuncture is pretty good at regulating both inflammatory and hormone responses in the body, hence its success.
PMS is also considered to be caused by hormone imbalances. (Though the exact mechanism is unknown). So whilst not a scientific certainty, a treatment that regulates hormone fluctuations and inflammation response directly relating to menstruation may just be worth trying.
In clinic, most ladies who come in, even for unrelated treatments find they benefit in this area. My advice is if you're ever curious but/or unsure, just get in touch! Most of us Acupuncture types are pretty happy to talk shop, even if just in terms of answering a few questions. You needn't fear being press ganged into treatments or a time share in Bude.
4 - Postoperative Recovery
OK so we all know Acupuncture is the Bees Knees when it comes to pain management. But often this is presented purely in regards to long standing conditions (Lower Back Pain anyone? It had to have a mentions somewhere!)
The fact is that Acupuncture is ideal for pretty much any kind of pain, including postoperative. As it also stimulates a healing response within the body, it can help decrease recovery time. Who doesn’t want to get out of those crutches quicker?
Self help to boost recovery is not quite as straightforward sans needles. Top advice is going to be keep blood and nutrient flow to the area at maximum. Gentle mobilisation techniques or gentle massage around (Let’s be absolutely clear to not massage either over surgery sites, broken bones, etc!) the area in question are going to be most beneficial.
5 - Skin (Eczema/Psoriasis)
Ok, so confession time, this isn’t actually part of the WHO List. That said, it is something I’m pretty darn enthusiastic about. It’s an area I’ve had great results not just with clients but with my own skin also!
In terms of why it’s such a good method of managing these types of conditions I’m gonna trot out those old favourites of inflammatory response and immune system modulation.
Plus when I can get my skin from this:
To This: (In the Interest of transparency, the contrast has been upped by 30% to make things clearer. I did this to all the pictures. Merely allowing for naff camera skills!)
In 3 days, through Acupuncture, that’s the kind of thing you’d probably want to hear about no?
Considering the, really quite aggressive, side effects when you look at skin medications, would you think it worth a try at least?
I'd also recommend Epsom/Himalayan/Dead Sea Salt (or all 3 like I did!) Baths, especially during a flare up. I find they work wonders for me, but let me know your own tips in the comments!
There We Go
Five down, five more to go! Were any a surprise? Let me know in the comments or over on The Witchdoctors Facebook Page.
If you're wanting to know a little more about one of the conditions covered, then ping over an email I'm always happy to chat Acupuncture!