Though it didn’t hit the United States until the 1970’s, acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago. It’s a healing method that studies meridians within the body that are thought to be keeping energy, or Qi, from moving freely.
Think of meridians like pathways, each one communicates with a certain organ. Sometimes, those pathways get jammed up and lead to various illnesses and disorders.
During a treatment session, a licensed practitioner places super-thin needles in the meridians they feel need to be cleared.
Does this all sound a little like science fiction? Well, it’s not.
In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the go-ahead for acupuncture needles to be used as legit medical devices.
During that same year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) acknowledged acupuncture as the treatment of pain management and other medical conditions. The FDA currently keeps a close eye on the standards for acupuncture needle use and safety.
Here are 7 benefits of acupuncture you’re missing out on and why you should add treatments to your self-care routine ASAP:
1. Treats Gut Issues
The gut is often referred to as the body’s “second brain” and contains the enteric nervous system, which is two thin layers of over 100 million nerve cells lining the gastrointestinal tract.
Our immune systems are largely stored in the gut, so keeping it healthy is critical to our overall health. Using acupuncture to heal digestive issues works by reducing stomach and pancreas inflammation in order to boost digestive functions. Improving gut health can actually improve a large number of other health conditions.
2. Increases Optimism
Studies show that reducing inflammation can also reduce your risk of depression and ease side effects from medication.
Acupuncture helps to control neurotransmitters, which are like messengers that signal to neurons in specific parts of the brain, thereby influencing certain behaviors like depression and joy.
3. Improves Sleep
Trouble sleeping? You aren’t alone. According to a 2018 study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in, 25% of the population suffer from acute insomnia every year.
A 2004 report found that the patients who received acupuncture were less stressed and also fell asleep more quickly.
A study in 1999 showed that people struggling with insomnia got much better sleep after acupuncture treatments. Sure beats popping a sleeping pill.
4. Reduces Headaches and Migraines
Some headaches require immediate medical attention, so you should absolutely check in with your doctor if you’re struggling with severe headaches.
However, weekly acupuncture treatments could ease headache symptoms and neck pain. A 2017 study the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine said acupuncture may be helpful in reducing the frequency of migraines and preventing attacks.
5. Helps With Weight Loss
No, acupuncture treatments won’t shrink your waistline overnight nor is it a replacement for a healthy diet and exercise, but it does have the potential to help with your weight loss.
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that weight gain is usually a result of an imbalance in the body.
Acupuncture can reset the nervous system, which, once all fixed up, metabolizes food accurately and cues those hunger signals. That way, you’re more in tune with your body and your digestion is on point.
6. Boosts The Immune System
Acupuncture helps to strengthen our bodies and make us better equipped to handle diseases naturally. Treatments have been shown to increase the body’s production of natural killer cells. Don’t quit taking your Vitamin C though!
7. Eases Anxiety
Acupuncture treatments are an awesome addition to your hot yoga flow and meditation practice. According to a 2013 study published in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine:
“Acupuncture has clinical efficacy on various autonomic nerve-related disorders, such as cardiovascular diseases, epilepsy, anxiety and nervousness, circadian rhythm disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and subfertility.”
So, don’t ditch your therapy appointments or quit your medication cold turkey, but it may be worth adding in a few treatments of acupuncture to your wellness routine.
Of course, it’s always recommended that you speak with a professional about treatments. If you decide to try acupuncture, then make sure to find a qualified acupuncturist you feel comfortable with and try a few visits.