Many of us have heard of acupuncture but beyond the basics of knowing that fine needles are used, you may be unfamiliar with the details. A form of complementary therapy, acupuncture tends to take two forms: traditional or Chinese acupuncture and medical acupuncture. Recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, NHS general practices and many pain clinics and hospices across the UK use and recommend acupuncture.
Through stimulating nerves and muscles with fine needles, your body begins producing pain-relieving endorphins. Undertaking a course of acupuncture sessions can create longer lasting pain relief than a single session.
NICE guidelines recommend acupuncture specifically for chronic tension headaches and migraines, however many report positive effects for other pain relief and management. The World Health Organization (WHO) list over a dozen conditions acupuncture has shown to be effective in helping.
We share six common ailments acupuncture may be able to help alleviate.
6 benefits of acupuncture
1. Acupuncture can support and improve your immune system
“Acupuncture increases the production of white blood cells moderating the immune system. If you experience frequent colds, flu or low energy, it is a sign that your immune system is not strong enough. With regular acupuncture treatments, you strengthen and improve your natural immunity.”
2. Acupuncture can help decrease symptoms of stress and depression
Studies have shown that acupuncture together with counselling can have a positive impact on depression. According to the British Acupuncture Council, acupuncture can help alleviate a wide number of related stress and depression symptoms including anxiety and insomnia, as well as helping you get a more restful night’s sleep.
A popular form of complementary therapy to help relax and calm your body, acupuncture is thought to help you rebalance and unwind.
3. Acupuncture can support fertility
While there are currently no conclusive studies proving or disproving the effects of acupuncture on fertility, some studies have suggested it may have a positive impact.
Acupuncturist Gordana explains, “Acupuncture is now provided onsite [in] a number of conventional private IVF clinics in the UK. Acupuncture can improve a number of issues from regulation of menstrual cycles, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, anovulation, to improving both egg and sperm quality.”
If you are concerned about fertility issues, as with many forms of complementary therapies, it is important to speak with your GP before beginning alternative options.
4. Acupuncture can increase your general sense of wellbeing
Often aiming at treating the whole person, rather than a set of specific symptoms, acupuncture can help boost your overall sense of wellbeing, reducing signs of ill health and restoring and rebalancing your natural energies.
5. Acupuncture can help decrease headaches and migraines
According to the British Acupuncture Council, acupuncture can be as effective as prophylactic drug therapy, with fewer unpleasant side effects.
Thought to help treat migraines by providing pain relief and reduce inflammation, acupuncture can also help with tension headaches by reducing the frequency, severity, and duration.
6. Acupuncture can help with pain relief
“If you are experiencing an ongoing injury which is not responding to the usual treatments, give acupuncture a try.” Jackie explains, she worked with a keen runner who had experienced mid pain that other forms of treatment didn’t seem to be helping.
“By the third treatment, she was happy that the pain wall improving. [It was] less intense and less frequent. By the sixth treatment she reported that her heel was feeling great, she had taken up running as her main sport again, [and] has had no problems since.”