Acupuncture & Acupressure – How Do They Work & What Are The Benefits?
Chances are by now, you’ve at least heard of the term acupuncture. This ancient Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years to effectively treat people suffering from a wide variety of different physical disorders. Acupuncture is a relatively painless process and works naturally without the use of any harsh medications, so is…
Chances are by now, you’ve at least heard of the term acupuncture. This ancient Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years to effectively treat people suffering from a wide variety of different physical disorders.
Acupuncture is a relatively painless process and works naturally without the use of any harsh medications, so is quite unlike the traditional medicine we have come to know today.
Whenever possible, it’s always best to exhaust more natural methods of treatment first before considering medication, which may cause a number of unwanted side effects.
Wondering what acupuncture is? Get informed with a brief review of this technique by checking out the video below.
What Is Acupuncture?
Before we go any further and talk about how acupuncture and acupressure can benefit you, let’s first talk about what these are to begin with.
What is acupuncture? Acupuncture is a system of alternative medicine that involves pricking the outer layer of skin with very thin needs, which then hit certain trigger points in the body that will stimulate other areas and cause changes to occur.
This treatment methodology has been around for over 3000 years now and is well recognized for its safety and efficacy for treating a wide range of different conditions.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
But how does it work? Acupuncture is going to work by improving your functionality and promote a natural state of self-healing to occur within the various body tissues.
When you go for treatment, the acupuncturist will place the needles in certain acupuncture points, or acupoints as they’re often called. Once the needles are inserted into the skin, heat, pressure, or even electrical stimulation may also be applied in effort to enhance the effects they are having.
The process of acupuncture works off a concept called yin and yang, which traditional Chinese medicine uses to describe two opposing forces that act in the universe and body.
Followers of this medicine believe that when these forces get out of balance, that’s when health problems will start to occur and energy, which is referred to as ‘qi’ flows naturally along specific pathways.
When the balance is changed however, the energy flow is blocked, and thus, this causes problems.
Acupuncture helps to release this blockage of qi in the body, which then stimulates the healing response and gets the individual back to a place where they feel good again.
This treatment can impact a great number of different systems in the body including the nervous system, endocrine system, immune system, as well as the cardiovascular and digestive system. No matter what health issue you may be suffering from, there’s a good chance that acupuncture can benefit you.
How Does Acupressure Work?
On the other hand, another treatment that you can utilize to help cure whatever is troubling you is acupressure. This treatment works off a very similar concept that acupuncture does, however rather than using needles to stimulate the trigger points you’ll instead be using deep pressure.
For someone who is needle-adverse, this can provide a great alternative while still allowing you to reap many benefits.
When you have acupressure done, you’ll experience an increase in blood circulation, a release of the level of muscular tension in the body, as well as an improved ability to kick-start the healing process.
Some people may think that acupressure is really just like a deep tissue massage, so they can accomplish the same thing, but this isn’t exactly the case.
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While both of these treatment methods will help to promote greater blood circulation and can help with the healing of tissues, the difference is that acupressure still has you stimulating the specific trigger points that then work towards stimulating various regions of the body.
Even the most skilled massage therapist may not be able to fully do this, so that is the main difference between the two.
So what are the benefits of acupuncture? There are a number of reasons to consider this alternative form of treatment.
Let’s look at some general benefits of acupuncture as a whole and then go into some of the specific benefits you can gain from using it.
General Acupuncture Benefits
When looking at this form of treatment compared to some others out there, you will come to see that it offers some unique benefits that are not always present in other treatment options.
- Completely safe when performed correctly
As long as acupuncture is performed in a safe manner by a trained professional, there are no safety risks involved in this form of treatment.
- Very few side effects are often experienced
Unlike other conventional forms of treatment such as with drugs, acupuncture doesn’t pose a threat of unwanted side effects. Many medications can cause the patient to be almost as uncomfortable taking the medication as they were off the medication due to the unwanted side effects they cause.
- Provides an effective way of dealing with pain and illness in the body
Overall, there is a great amount of research backing up the efficacy of acupuncture. It’s a widely used alternative treatment for a great number of diseases and many doctors now refer patients to acupuncturists for treatment, either alone or in conjunction with the conventional treatment program they are also using.
- Is very useful for patients who may be on certain medications that prevent them from being treated with other medications
Finally, overall, acupuncture is a great option for those patients who may already be on certain medications that would disallow them to take other medications due to a possible interaction. If you cannot come off one medication and still want to treat a separate condition, acupuncture may be one of your only viable options.
Overall, acupuncture is a great alternative form of treatment that is used by a wide variety of people.
What specific benefits can it bring?
Specific Benefits Related To Acupuncture
What do you stand to gain by taking part in this ancient form of treatment? Plenty. Just about everyone can benefit from using this alternative medicine.
Here are just a few of the things that it can help you with.
- Decreased migraine frequency
Suffering from regular migraines? If so, you are likely desperate to find fast relief. Acupuncture may just provide that. Within 20 regular treatment sessions within a four week period, most users will experience significant improvement in their migraine frequency and/or intensity.
- Improved mood
Who knew that needles could potentially enhance your mood? That may just be the case. Acupuncture is able to trigger the brain and cause a higher release of the mood-boosting neurotransmitters, which are also linked to lowering stress levels and anxiety.
If you’re feeling nervous, anxious, or just overall in a relatively down and blue mood, you might just consider going for a few acupuncture treatments.
It’s also a great natural form of treatment as opposed to relying on anti-depressant medications.
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Lowered levels of blood pressure
With more and more people suffering from high blood pressure and being at risk for heart disease and/or stroke because of it, it’s important to be doing all that you can to bring your numbers back to safe and healthy levels.
Acupuncture can do that. Ongoing sessions may help to bring down your blood pressure levels, keeping your heart in a healthy place. A study published in the Hypertension journal noted that subjects who received 6 weeks of treatment demonstrated a significant decrease in blood pressure levels and this persisted as long as the treatment was carried on.
While you should not use it in replacement for conventional heart medications you are on, it’s worthwhile to speak to your doctor about this alternative treatment option.
- Improved sleep quality and/or duration
Sleep is really at the heart of your health. If you aren’t sleeping enough, it will impact just about every single element of your well-being. Lack of sleep can increase your risk factor for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, as well as depression.
If you’re often lying in bed at night tossing and turning, this is a great case for utilizing the power of acupuncture.
By going for treatment, you can increase the release of the neurotransmitters that are associated with sleep and relaxation, hence making it easier for you to fall asleep – and stay asleep at night.
A study published in the Section of Acupuncture noted that subjects treated with acupuncture to enhance their sleep showed an 83.3% increase in sleep quality, while those being treated with medication only showed a 72.7% increase.
If you don’t use acupuncture for any other reason, make it for the ability to get higher quality of sleep.
- Lowered severity of menopausal symptoms
As any woman going through menopause knows, the symptoms associated with this time in your life can be rather unpleasant. The good news however is that acupuncture can help.
Those who are having regular treatments for a series of months should notice a reduced severity of hot flashes, improved body temperature regulation, and they may notice they feel more like their normal selves again.
Ongoing treatment throughout this period in your life can go a long way towards minimizing the discomfort you are in.
- Relief from allergies
If seasonal allergies have you down, acupuncture might hold the solution. Those who underwent acupuncture treatment sessions noticed a reduced level of symptoms associated with the allergy and often rely less on antihistamines.
This is great news for many people because conventional antihistamines may cause severe drowsiness and make it hard to function at work or school.
- Relief from heart burn and indigestion
If frequent heartburn or indigestion typically gets you down, this is something that acupuncture can help with as well. It does this by helping to better manage acid reflux, which can then regulate the level of acid secretion that takes place in the body.
Acupuncture may also help to speed up the rate of digestion taking place as well, which can then decrease the chances that you experience the painful levels of heartburn you may otherwise notice.
- Improved immune response
Keeping your immune system strong and in top function is critical to maintaining optimal health. As your immune system is basically your first line of defense against any invading bacteria or virus, the stronger it is, the better you’ll be able to fend off illness.
Almost everything we do on a day to day basis can bring out immune system down including experiencing chronic stress levels, placing stress on the body through intense regular workout sessions, as well as not eating all the right foods that we need.
If your immune system is weak, you will feel it as you’ll be more run down than you otherwise would be.
The good news is that acupuncture has the power to strengthen your immune system back up, ensuring that you can put up a fight against anything that is trying to bring your health down.
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Promotion of regular menstrual cycles
For women who are suffering from menstrual irregularities , acupuncture may help them better regulate their cycles, which can help promote overall well-being, and should they want to become pregnant in the coming future, also assist with that.
Acupuncture may be especially beneficial for women who are suffering from amenorrhea regain their menstrual cycle. This is important because even though it may seem great not to be getting a period, the big issue that comes along with that is that it can put you at risk for osteoporosis over time.
In one study published in the Gynecological Endocrinology journal, of 27 women who were treated with acupuncture for infertility, twelve still suffered issues after treatment compared to 15 from the group of 27 controls.
- Enhanced fertility
Which brings us to the next benefit that acupuncture can bring and that is enhanced levels of fertility. Whether you are a man or woman suffering from infertility related issues, acupuncture can help to normalize hormones and get things working again.
In couples who have been trying to conceive for quite some time, often it’s this treatment that helps them successfully start a family.
- Decreased back pain/discomfort
Suffering from back pain can be a frustrating issue that never seems to let up and can limit your ability to participate in activities that you otherwise would enjoy.
Successfully treating back pain typically occurs through looking at what you are doing on a daily basis that could be leading to the back pain along with various treatment methods such as physiotherapy as well as acupuncture.
Those who are unable to find relief through other treatment methods often do find they experience great success with this mode of treatment.
- Enhanced weight loss
Finally, acupuncture may also help to promote weight loss results as well. While it won’t directly cause weight loss to take place, it can help to improve insulin sensitivity levels, which can then mean your body is better able to handle the carbohydrates you consume and has a lower chance of converting them into body fat stores.
In addition to that, acupuncture may also help to decrease hunger and cravings, making it easier to control your food intake.
So as you can see, there are a great many different reasons why someone may want to pursue acupuncture. Some individuals will use this therapy on an ongoing basis in effort to manage certain health conditions and promote optimal well-being, while others will only use it while they are being impacted in a negative manner and then subside treatment once they have healed.
Now let’s show you a few of the benefits that acupressure can bring.
Many of the same benefits that you get from acupuncture can also be seen with acupressure as well. This is because this treatment modality works in much the same way, placing pressure on the trigger points, which then stimulate various parts of the body.
In addition to that, acupressure may offer a few unique benefits.
- Reduced Wrinkle Formation
Acupressure is very often used on the facial area as it can improve muscle tone and circulation. This will then result in decreased appearance of wrinkles and or skin irregularities and may also help to tighten up the skin tissue itself.
- Lymph Movement
Acupressure may also help to stimulate the lymph system to a slight degree as well, so this can help to move toxins out of the body, creating a detoxification process.
This is quite similar to what you would get in a deep tissue massage, however as acupressure does apply the pressure with as much movement, you typically won’t see as thorough benefits in this area as to what you would get with a massage.
- Released Muscular Tension
Finally, if you’ve just finished a very intense workout session and are looking for relief, acupressure is what you’ll want to check out.
While acupuncture can also help to release muscle tension, acupressure tends to do a better job at this and can really help loosen up those muscles, promoting faster recovery.
The nature of acupressure has the therapist pressing on the skin, which works out the knots and tight areas that would otherwise cause pain and discomfort.
So there you have some of the key acupressure benefits to know about. Usually those who aren’t so fond of needles choose to go with this treatment route as it simply makes them feel that much more comfortable (and likely to do it!).
All in all, if you are looking for a great and all-natural way to boost your health, you’ll strongly want to consider acupressure. It’s a great way to combat disease, boost energy, and reduce the symptoms of whatever is ailing you.
Do you have any experiences with acupuncture or acupressure that you’d like to share? Comment below and let us know how you found it.
Gerhard, and F. Postneek. “Auricular acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility.” Gynecological endocrinology 6.3 (1992): 171-181.
Xuan, Y. B., et al. “[Randomized and controlled study on effect of acupuncture on sleep quality in the patient of primary insomnia].” Zhongguo zhen jiu= Chinese acupuncture & moxibustion 27.12 (2007): 886-888.
Flachskampf, Frank A., et al. “Randomized trial of acupuncture to lower blood pressure.” Circulation 115.24 (2007): 3121-3129.