It’s been a while since I’ve done a video for you in my “trying it out for you” series, so today is the day!
Just before the pandemic rocked our world, my friend Stacey and I decided to give Acupuncture a test run.
I hope this video and medical literature review helps someone who has considered acupuncture (and is on the fence about going) decide whether this holistic healing modality might be right for them!
In this quick 6 min video, I take you (ever so briefly because I couldn’t really do much filming with all the needles in my arm!) into my community based acupuncture clinic and give you my honest feedback.
When I came back from that session, I scoured the medical literature to find out what the medical studies have to say about the long term efficacy of acupuncture for different medical issues.
After watching the video, hop down to the medical literature review I have waiting for you below:
Conditions Acupuncture Works Best For:
(with links to the medical studies in case you want to read them yourself!)
1. Chronic Pain:
The meta-analysis, published in The Journal Of Pain in May of 2018, studied over 20,000 patients in over 39 different trials that were double blinded, to see what chronic pain conditions acupuncture was best for (if any.)
Not to my surprise at all, considering the success I’ve had with acupuncture decreasing my own stress, tension and headache severity, this study found that acupuncture significantly reduced pain for long periods of time and was an effective treatment of chronic musculoskeletal, headache, and osteoarthritis pain.
2. Neck Pain (Both Acute & Chronic):
A meta-analysis, published in the Cochrane Library Review in November of 2016, looked at neck pain from all causes, including whiplash, arthritis and mechanical neck pain, and found that acupuncture significantly decreased pain (over sham acupuncture) and found that disability from neck pain was reduced.
3. Opioid Use:
…although it’s important to note that the reduction in pain was short term, immediately following the treatment, and did not result in long term reductions in pain.
The ear acupuncture did not result in a decrease use of opioids from baseline, but it did result in the acupuncture recipients not increasing their average dose as much as the non-acupuncture recipients did. In other words, acupuncture patients required less opioids than non-acupuncture patients did, but did not reduce baseline dosage.
4. Post Surgical Pain:
This study, published in Medical Acupuncture in August of 2019, found a similar result as the opiod study above — that is, while participants who received acupuncture after shoulder surgery reported significantly less pain, there ultimately was no difference in the dose of pain medications required post-surgically.
This study, published in HNO in January of 2017, looked at pain levels in patients after tonsillectomy surgery and found a significant pain decrease after a single treatment of acupuncture, lasting on average for 3 hours post treatment.
As an aside, I would say I felt a noticeable improvement in my neck and shoulder pain (as I mention in the video) after acupuncture that agrees with this timeline — I enjoyed about 3 hours of relief before I noticed tension pain beginning to accumulate again.
In a study published in Headache in March of 2015, acupuncture was shown to decrease migraine occurrence as well as any conventional drug therapy, with less side effects and no prescription necessary.
Acupuncture was shown to significantly decrease pain and increase functionality in fibromyalgia patients (published Jan 2019 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.)
7. Chronic Pelvic Pain:
Medical studies (like this one, published in the Journal of Urology in October of 2018) found that acupuncture significantly reduces pain in chronic pelvic pain for both men (from prostititis) and women (published in Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine in September of 2018.)
This study (published in the Asian Pacific Journal Of Cancer Prevention in 2014) found that acupuncture significantly reduced side effects from cancer treatment, decreasing pain, anxiety, nausea, vomitting and insomnia during chemotherapy.
And this study (published in the JAMA Oncology in Dec 2019) found that both acupuncture and acupressure were associated with significantly reduced pain and decreased pain medication use in cancer patients.
This incredibly interesting study, just published in Alternative Therapies In Health And Medicine in February of 2020, looked at acupuncture therapy, vs sham acupuncture, vs no acupuncture at all in unconscious coma patients after traumatic brain injury.
To me this is the best study showing that the positive results of acupuncture can not possibly be placebo.
Researchers found that the Glascow Coma Score, The Glascow Outcome Score, and the wake promoting rates were all improved in the acupuncture group and that coma states were lessened, but larger and more rigorous studies are needed before routinely recommending acupuncture as part of coma treatment world wide.
This study, published in the Western Journal of Nursing Studies in December of 2019, found that acupuncture and acupressure significantly reduced agitation, anxiety, depression and insomnia in dementia patients, as well as significantly improved activities of daily living.
This review of the medical literature (published in Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice in May 2018) on anxiety found 13 studies that were rigorous enough in the use of acupuncture in anxiety disorders to suggest that there are significant and measurable reductions in anxiety with acupuncture therapy, as well as less side effects than medications that treat anxiety.
I’m excited because there are ongoing studies happening right this very minute, looking at very interesting outcomes in acupuncture therapy to treat things like:
- acute pancreatitis
- restless leg syndrome
- rotator cuff rehabilitation
- chronic renal failure
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome
- bladder function after spinal cord injury
- uterine fibroids
…and many more very unique applications of acupuncture in medicine.
I plan to go back to my own community based clinic, so I will absolutely keep you posted on the results of these interesting medical studies that are being run right now, as well as any new ones that come up in the near future!
Want to try this at home? Consider Acupressure.
Several studies have shown that acupressure (holding pressure over pressure points) is equally effective to professional acupuncture with needles.
Pre-surgical patients ranked similar relief with acupressure as with acupuncture in alleviating pre-surgery anxiety, and psoriasis patients actually improved more with short term acupressure therapy over traditional acupuncture therapy.
At home it’s super easy to hold or massage acupressure points… many important acupressure points are found in the hand and the feet, on the external ear, the scalp, neck, back, wrist and more.
In fact, many of the benefits of traditional massage are thought to be from stimulation of acupressure points, along with increased circulation by mobilizing muscle and fascial tissue.
So even if you don’t know specific acupressure points, even a simple foot or hand massage can relax your whole body, from head to toe.
And for a no-brainer way to apply acupressure, there are lots of inexpensive tools like Aculief (for headache therapy,) acupressure wrist bands for nausea relief, acupressure foot massagers, acupressure clips to use on ears, hands and feet, even whole body acupressure mats.
Never let healing get dry, boring or mindless.
Interjecting something new to once in a while can stimulate your body to recover in all new ways. You may be able to breathe new life into your health and healing by trying something you’ve never tried before!
For more ideas, hop over here to see my video reviews on:
To your innate and resilient health!