What is Acupuncture and How It Can Help Women?
Millions of people worldwide have heard about acupuncture. However, most of them are suspicious about the entire process.
Acupuncture is practiced every day around China, Japan and the USA, and it represents quite a safe procedure aimed at treating plenty of degenerative diseases, pains, anomalies and emotional conditions.
The insertion of small, thin needles into the specific body points impacts the blood flow, stimulates nerves, muscles and connective tissue, which boosts your body’s natural painkillers, according to experts.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a technique that involves the insertion of very thin needles into specific acupuncture points of your body, called acupoints.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is a technique that’s used for balancing the flow of energy, also known as chi or qi (chee), which is believed to flow through meridians in our body.
By stimulating these specific points along meridians, acupuncturists believe that the energy flow will rebalance and achieve its equilibrium.
Acupuncture is perceived as a form of alternative medicine, and it’s practiced every day along the USA, China, Japan, and other countries worldwide. People primarily seek therapy for pain relief, but it is also successful in treating many other diseases.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
A typical acupuncture treatment involves the use of small, thin and stainless steel needles that practitioner inserts to specific areas of your body, also known as acupuncture points.
An acupuncturist will use 5-20 needles approximately, leaving them in place for about ten to twenty minutes. The insertion can be done either manually or electrically, depending on the condition that needs to be treated.
A practitioner tends to combine acupuncture therapy with other essential techniques that originate from traditional Chinese medicine so that the patient achieves the best experience.
Such techniques include:
- Chinese herbs: Chinese herbs, such as leaves, roots, and seeds of plants, can address unhealthy areas of your body that cause a variety of inconveniences. They also help regain balance in your body and strengthen your immune system.
- Chinese nutrition: According to traditional Chinese medicine, people should include the nutrients from the six food groups in their regular diet – meat, fruit, dairy, grains, vegetables, and spices and herbs. That will help their body retrieve the balance and boost energy.
- Cupping therapy: This is another form of alternative medicine, which includes placing the special cups on a patient’s skin for a few minutes in order to create suction. It helps with pain, blood flow, inflammation, and relaxation.
- Moxibustion: This therapy consists of burning dried mugwort on particular areas of the body. It’s excellent for treating heavy menstrual bleeding, uterine bleeding and menstrual pain, and it can help turn breech babies into a normal position before childbirth.
- Tui-Na massage: Tui-Na massage is similar to acupuncture, but the practitioner will use the fingers instead of needles to stimulate specific body points. It is aimed at rebalancing the qi, as well as treating blockages and imbalances that cause pain and illnesses.
Before acupuncture therapy, your practitioner will ask you a couple of questions about your condition, which will help them determine which body parts should be treated.
He/she will tell you whether you need to remove some clothing. If so, they will give you a gown, sheet, or towel. The treatment will later include:
- Needle insertion: Needles are inserted to different depths at acupoints on your body. Since they are thin and small, most people usually don’t feel them. However, some of them feel a little discomfort when needles reach the correct depth.
- Needle manipulation: Depending on the therapy, a practitioner may gently move, twirl, or stimulate needles with mild electrical pulses.
- Removal of needles: Needles are usually removed after 10 to 20 minutes, while you’re still relaxing on a padded table. The needle removal often causes no discomfort.
It’s critical to know that not all people respond the same to acupuncture therapies. Some of them may feel nausea, headache, or dizziness after the treatment, but that’s not something that should concern you.
However, if you continue to feel some of the mentioned symptoms even after some time, you better call your practitioner and tell him/her about that.
The Common Types & Styles of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is an ancient discipline whose growth never stopped. Accordingly, many types and styles developed during the time, and each of them can be used for treating different kinds of conditions.
The main goal of acupressure is relieving life energy, which continually flows through the meridians of our body. As you can see, it shares the main idea of acupuncture. Still, unlike it, acupressure doesn’t include the insertion of needles.
Acupressure practitioners will use their palms, elbows, fingers, feet, or special devices to apply pressure to acupoints found close to meridians. Such therapy is convenient for treating headaches and morning sicknesses.
2. Auricular Acupuncture
According to Chinese medicine, all the most important acupoints of the human body are located in the ears, which impacted the development of auricular or ear acupuncture.
Ear acupuncture is considered remarkable for people who want to stop smoking or drinking alcohol, as well as for men and women who are dealing with infertility.
3. Body Acupuncture
Body acupuncture is the most common acupuncture style, which includes the insertion of small and thin needles into specific acupoints located in different body areas.
Each of the stimulated points has a therapeutic effect, which is why this style can be used for treating different types of diseases. Also, it’s commonly combined with other acupuncture styles, providing better results.
We have already mentioned that needles can be stimulated electrically, and such a method is called electroacupuncture.
During a typical procedure, the practitioner uses a machine that provides needles with electrical stimulations. Patients usually feel mild, tingling sensation produced by electrical pulses, but something like that is vital for impacting blood flow and treating many conditions.
Have in mind that such a treatment may not be convenient for everyone, which is why you should consult your certified practitioner before starting it.
5. Japanese Acupuncture Style
Japanese acupuncture is generally gentler than a traditional Chinese style since practitioners tend to use thinner needles while performing the therapy.
Unlike the practitioners of Chinese acupuncture, who usually rely on inspecting the patient’s tongue, eyes and fingernails, acupuncturists who perform Japanese style prefer the technique that’s focused on feeling the abdomen, back and meridian pulses.
That way, they can determine the exact method for treating the patient’s condition.
6. Korean Acupuncture Style
Korean acupuncture is focused on hands and ears, and unlike many other styles, it includes only four needles, which explain its second name – a “four-needle” technique.
According to Korean style acupuncturists, four needles open the door to balance. Namely, two needles either seduce or reduce qi, while the other two tonify or increase qi in the second organ system.
7. Micro Acupuncture 48
Micro acupuncture 48 is an innovative acupuncture style developed in 1984, and we can say that it’s quite different from the other types.
It involves 48 acupoints located in hands and feet, and it’s focused on treating pain, peripheral neuropathies and eye diseases, including glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, Usher’s syndrome and other types of degenerative ocular conditions.
Micro acupuncture is widely used around the world and it has shown remarkable results so far.
5 Essential Benefits of Acupuncture Therapy for Women
A typical day of a woman involves a lot of stress, pressure, an unhealthy diet, and a lack of time to devote to stuff that matters.
Such a way of life is usually the reason why most women suffer from anxiety, depression, menstrual pain, migraines, or frequent tiredness. Medications typically don’t help much, but they can worsen the situation in some cases.
The question is, what to do then?
Women can benefit from acupuncture therapies since it can help them retrieve the lost balance, improve and restore their minds, bodies and spirit.
Girls who decide to devote some time to acupuncture treatments can feel the following improvements:
1. Improvement of Menstrual Disorders
Many women nowadays suffer from menstrual disorders, which usually include menstrual pain, cramps, irregular periods, polycystic ovarian syndrome, heavy bleeding, and premenstrual syndrome.
Such disorders can be present to a greater or lesser extent, but they can cause numerous inconveniences, especially as women grow older. However, if they are consistently present, you should try acupuncture!
It can help you alleviate, improve and better manage your condition. The entire procedure is more advantageous than pharmaceutical products.
2. Stress Relief and Anti-Age Effect
Stress is the most common factor that impacts the development of other body conditions, such as digestive problems, imbalances, allergies, insomnia, blood pressure spikes, fatigue, and more.
Additionally, stress is responsible for the external changes that manifest in the form of wrinkles, gray hair, dark under-eye circles, and saggy skin. All these symptoms come as a result of a stressed body, which craves for relaxation and therapies.
One of the acupuncture benefits lies in relieving stress, which later brings a fresh and more youthful look. It helps soften fine lines and wrinkles, reduce acne, and minimize age spots and dark circles by relaxing your facial muscles. Accordingly, it’s a better and more cost-effective solution than Botox or similar procedures.
3. Reduced Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Many women decide for treatments of acupuncture for anxiety and depression since it’s known that such therapies impact the production of hormones that work as natural antidepressants, with no side effects.
Such procedures help with stress management, lower blood pressure and panic attacks that come as a consequence of anxiety.
4. Mitigation of Consistent Migraines and Headaches
Persistent migraines and headaches are the problems many women are facing. They often come as a result of stress and anxiety, and the frequent use of painkillers won’t reduce their effect.
Acupuncture can be the right solution for getting rid of headaches and migraines since the stimulation of the exact points and nerves in your body can release hormones, such as endorphins that cause an analgesic effect and reduce the pain.
5. Improvement of Fertility
Acupuncture, combined with Chinese herbs and other essential therapies, has been used for treating infertility for centuries.
Knowing that acupuncture significantly decreases stress levels and impacts the production of progesterone, one of the leading fertility hormones, doctors usually recommend this therapy to women who are dealing with fertility issues.
6. Postpartum Support
Acupuncture therapies help reduce lower back pain, pelvic discomfort and morning sicknesses that are associated with pregnancy, as well as the inconveniences that come after delivery.
Namely, acupuncture is essential for rebuilding qi and blood flow, which impact milk supply and help with postpartum depression.
Regular acupuncture therapies can help you see yourself in a new, completely different light. It impacts self-awareness and self-acceptance, which is crucial for boosting your confidence and feeling ready to conquer the everyday challenges and tough situations.
Since acupuncture focuses on the roots of the particular problem and not on the problem itself, it helps you make vital changes in your life. In addition to therapies, your acupuncturist will recommend a diet and lifestyle that can help you get back on track.
Many women try acupuncture for weight loss, and they’re usually amazed by the results. Since practitioners help you change your lifestyle by getting rid of bad habits and unhealthy food, you can start to notice significant changes in your body.
What Can Acupuncture Treat?
Acupuncture has proven its efficiency in treating many kinds of diseases – from acute and chronic pain to degenerative ocular conditions that are considered incurable. Some of the most common categories of illnesses treated by acupuncture are:
1. Digestive Issues
Acupuncture treatments are efficient for regulating digestive issues, reducing inflammations of the stomach and pancreas and improving overall digestive functions.
It’s especially convenient for treating the following digestive conditions:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
2. Emotional Problems
Therapies of acupuncture are vital for enhancing a patient’s psychological condition since they impact energy flow and qi rebalance. It helps you deal with numerous emotional conditions, especially with the following:
3. Respiratory Issues and Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) Disorders
The majority of people are dealing with respiratory and ENT problems that usually include allergies, hearing, vertigo, and thyroid diseases. Thanks to detailed patient examination, practitioners can find the root of the problem, especially if it causes the following disorders:
- Allergic rhinitis
- Sore throat
4. Gynecological Problems
We can agree that acupuncture helps in solving the most common issues regarding women’s health, such as menstrual and labor pain, back pain during pregnancy and similar problems, such as:
- Irregular period
5. Musculoskeletal Problems
Conditions that affect muscles are common among people of all ages, and they can cause severe problems if not treated properly. Acupuncture is useful for treating back and neck pain, arthritis, sports injuries, stroke rehab, and many other conditions that affect muscles, including:
- Back pain
6. Neurological Problems
Neurological problems are related to the nervous system, which is responsible for coordinating the body’s activities. Nerve pain can be caused by various factors, such as inflammation, trauma, stroke, nerve degeneration, and more. Accordingly, acupuncture can help with:
- Parkinson’s disease
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
One of the most asked questions is, Does acupuncture hurt?
Asking such a question is reasonable since the very thought of needles that penetrate your skin doesn’t seem relaxing. However, you shouldn’t be afraid because acupuncture usually doesn’t hurt.
Still, you may feel certain discomfort while the needles are being inserted, but that means that treated acupoint responds well, which is a good sign. Such a sensation is called de qi, and it means that the needle has accessed the energetic material that moves throughout the body.
Everybody may feel de qi in a different way, which is expected since not everyone responds to therapy the same. Here are the 5 most common sensations patients used to describe their acupuncture experience:
If you feel something similar to these sensations, that means that you’re responding to therapy pretty well. However, if you feel a sharp sensation, you should notify your practitioner, who’ll either try needling the point again or remove the needle from that area.
Potential Acupuncture Risks
Although acupuncture therapy is generally considered safe, you should be careful when choosing the right practitioner.
Since such therapy involves the use of needles, your practitioner needs to provide a safe and sterile environment in order to avoid the potential risk of infection and other diseases that can be transmitted through the blood.
Besides, you should avoid therapies if:
- You’re taking blood thinners (anticoagulants)
- You have bleeding disorders
- You have a pacemaker, infusion pump or another electrical device (for electroacupuncture)
- You are pregnant
Potential side-effects you may face after the treatment include bleeding, dizziness, soreness, or bruising at the site where the needle was inserted. Some severe consequences are quite rare.
How Much Does Acupuncture Cost?
The average acupuncture cost is defined by the cost of the initial evaluation, required by most of the acupuncture clinics, subsequent therapies you want (fertility, weight loss, smoking, acupuncture for back pain, etc.), and the state where you live.
The initial fee usually goes from $100 to $300, while further therapies can cost about $75 per session approximately.
Your total price will depend on the body area you want to treat, as well as the expertise of your practitioner.
Sometimes, your acupuncture treatments can be covered with your insurance policy. However, that’s possible only if your doctor prescribes acupuncture as a medically necessary therapy.
Verdict: Does Acupuncture Work and Is It Worth Trying?
Thanks to its numerous benefits that help to improve overall health, acupuncture therapy is more than recommended. It’s more cost-effective than some other solutions that may not bring significant improvements, and since acupuncture clinic do the best treatments, you shouldn’t be afraid of potential risks.
Therefore, the answers are: acupuncture works, and it’s worth trying!