Science-Based Benefits of Acupuncture Therapy January 04, 2018 11:38
Has your doctor ever prescribed you a round of acupuncture? Probably not.
Has your doctor ever prescribed you a round of acupuncture? Probably not. Alternative treatments often get short shrift in standard healthcare because doctors are generally unaware of the science showing that they really are effective alternatives to drugs and medication. But a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine may change that.
The researchers pooled data from nearly 18,000 people who had participated in studies examining the effectiveness of acupuncture and found that, yes, it really is a good treatment for chronic pain and that doctors should start recommending it as treatment for arthritis and other chronic ailments.
Chronic pain is certainly one of the most common reasons people seek out acupuncturists, but here are six other scientifically studied ways that acupuncture therapy can alleviate what's bothering you:
Using acupuncture therapy to successfully relieve chronic back pain is well documented in scientific literature, and acupuncturists say that it's the leading reason that people visit their clinics. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine even found that people who were given "simulated acupuncture," where pressure was place on certain acupuncture points but no needles were actually used, saw as much as a 15 percent greater improvement in their symptoms (equal to the improvements seen in people who were receiving true acupuncture) than people who were taking medications and undergoing standard chiropractic care.
A study from China, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that a low-dose of fluoxetine (Prozac) combined with acupuncture therapy was just as effective at reducing anxiety in patients being treated for depression as full-dose medication. Cutting the dose and adding acupuncture also reduced the drug's side effects, which can include nausea, weight gain, and a decreased sex drive.
Brazilian researchers found that acupuncture therapy alleviated heartburn and indigestion in pregnant women. One group of pregnant women was given a combination of acupuncture and medications, and another group was counseled on dietary changes and given medications if needed. Over the course of the study, 75 percent of the women in the acupuncture group saw heartburn intensity, and antacid use, decline, while only 44 percent of women in the standard-treatment group saw those same effects.
Cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment are likely to suffer a variety of side effects, depending on the part of the body being treated. However, acupuncture therapy has been found to have some effect on the perception of how bad those effects can be, particularly for nausea and dry mouth, common in patients receiving radiation to the head and neck. A review of studies published in CA, a journal of the American Cancer Society, found that people undergoing radiation treatment perceived fewer negative side effects of radiation even though the side effects may still be there. For instance, in one study, patients who wore acupressure bands during treatment said they felt less nausea, although they still had the same occurrence of vomiting as they did before wearing the band, and in another study, people said they had less of a problem with dry mouth, even though measures of their saliva showed that levels remained the same. The acupuncture didn't actually alleviate the symptoms, but it did help improve patients' quality of life after treatment.