Acupuncture is a treatment that many of us have heard of, but are perhaps not particularly familiar with. While the popularity of acupuncture has grown in recent years, it still retains a slightly mysterious nature, and many people have a number of misconceptions about the practice. In this post, we’re going to look deeper into what acupuncture is and what it can offer people, ensuring that you have the facts you need to allow you to make an informed decision about trying acupuncture for yourself.
Understanding what acupuncture is
The ideal thing to do at this point would be to describe how acupuncture works. However, that’s… a little tricky, to be honest! The truth is that it’s not entirely understood how acupuncture actually works, but its efficacy has been proven time and again in various studies.
Of course, most of us are immediately sceptical. How can a treatment work if no one can explain why it’s effective? If you’re currently thinking the naysayers are right about acupuncture and it’s clearly nonsense, pause for a moment and consider anaesthesia.
Yes, anaesthesia; the medical process that makes it possible for surgeries to be performed and lives to be saved. Anaesthesia is the epitome of modern, evidence-based medicine, isn’t it? No one is calling anaesthesia a quack science or a “woo” cure.
Here’s the kicker, though: no one really knows how anaesthesia works. We know it does, and we’re grateful for it, but the exact biological process is something of a mystery. There are theories, but no definitive proof and consensus.
So while no one knows for sure why acupuncture does work, that’s not a red flag. Sometimes, all you need to know is that a treatment can work— is the “how” really important if it is able to save you pain, discomfort, side-effects and other unpleasant symptoms?
The theories behind acupuncture
The Ancient Chinese theory behind acupuncture revolves around Qi, the life force that is thought to regulate health and well-being. It is thought that Qi moves through the body in a similar way to blood, but instead of travelling through veins and arteries, Qi travels via a network of pathways known as meridians.
The smooth travelling of Qi through the body is thought to be easily interrupted. Problems such as injury, stress, lifestyle consequences, environmental impacts, and nutrition can all cause Qi’s flow around the meridians to be damaged; think of it like a bottle neck, with Qi not able to flow as well as it should. When needles are inserted into strategic points across the body, they are believed to help “free” the Qi and allow it to flow once more. This is achieved due to a combination of different benefits, including the encouragement of the body to produce its own painkilling chemicals and endorphins, and stimulating the brain to help control mental health conditions.
Modern scientists equate the concept of Qi with the chemical reactions within the body, and posit that acupuncture encourages better metabolic function, which in turn enhances well-being.
Whether you believe the Qi explanation or the more scientific metabolic function, the end result is the same: acupuncture is extremely effective at treating a number of life-affecting conditions. Again, you don’t need to know how or why something works – to know that it does, safely, is enough.
Migraines, depression, and anxiety
Superficially, it may seem that migraines, depression, and anxiety have very little in common. The former is a cerebrovascular illness; and depression and anxiety are on completely opposing sides of the mental health spectrum.
However, all three of these illnesses have something very specific in common: they are difficult to treat. Migraines are unpredictable and somewhat unknown; depression does not always respond to conventional medications and those which do work can cause unpleasant side-effects; and anxiety can be controlled with conventional means, but rarely cured. People who suffer from these conditions often have to go through long, difficult processes to try and obtain treatment… yet all three have been shown to be eased by acupuncture.
Compared to conventional treatments for migraine, depression, and anxiety, acupuncture is incredibly simple. There’s no medication; no side effects; no worrying about interactions between different drugs. Just a careful, effective treatment that can provide relief from conditions that are otherwise very difficult to treat using conventional means. Millions of people have experienced the difference that acupuncture can make to these conditions; if you suffer from migraines, depression, or anxiety, why not give it a try and see just how much you can benefit too?