6 Reasons Why NYC Patients Should Consider Acupuncture
Acupuncture is one of the oldest healing treatments in the world. Although it is far from being considered mainstream in the United States, it is gaining popularity. According to the most recent data, nearly 3.1 million adults and 150,000 children in the United States receive acupuncture treatments each year. It is an extremely safe and effective form of treatment for a wide range of conditions.
Although acupuncture has been in use for thousands of years, scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how it works. Many scientific studies are in progress today and many other studies have already shown promising results regarding the efficacy of acupuncture. The treatment offers a wide range of benefits for patients and carries a low risk for side effects.
History of Acupuncture
Researchers have found sharpened stones and bones in China that suggest the practice of acupuncture dates back to 6000 BCE. More definite evidence shows that the Chinese were clearly using acupuncture in 200 BCE and the years that followed. An entire history of cumulative research and treatment practices surrounding acupuncture came together in the 1950s. In those years, China built formal research institutes to study acupuncture and the treatment became widely available in Chinese hospitals. Even so, it took several more years for the practice to become known in the United States.
In 1971, a US reporter was traveling through China with President Nixon. He became ill and needed an emergency appendectomy. While in recovery, he received acupuncture and was impressed by the pain relief it provided. He wrote about his experience in the New York Times and that article generated so much attention that teams of doctors from the United States traveled to China to explore the benefits of acupuncture. The treatment gained additional attention in 1997 when it was formally recognized as a method of medical treatment by the United States National Institutes of Health.
Types of Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments and injuries. Depending on the patient’s specific symptoms, the acupuncturist will use either Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) techniques or utilize Acupuncture Physical Medicine (APM).
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
TCM acupuncture is the most popular form of acupuncture practiced in the United States. Using this method, the acupuncturist seeks to balance the flow of vital energy (known as qi) in the patient’s body. This energy flows through pathways (known as meridians) and affects how the mind and body work. The balance will also address eight key components: yin/yang, internal/external, excess/deficiency, hot/cold.
Using these concepts, TCM acupuncture can be used to treat acute or chronic conditions. This includes chronic pain or pain from surgery, nausea from chemotherapy, headaches, arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, allergies, eczema, gastrointestinal problems, asthma, and others.
Acupuncture Physical Medicine (APM)
APM was developed 25 years ago by Dr. Mark Seem. This type of acupuncture is a modern combination of TCM and Westernized physical medicine. APM uses meridians, but also looks for points of muscular constriction and trigger points (similar to a “knots” in the muscle). An APM practitioner feels the muscles of the patient and inserts needles, just like in TCM acupuncture. The shallow insertion of the needle prompts the trigger point to release and allows the muscle to return to normal function. Once released, the muscle can receive more nutrient-rich blood and oxygen. This can lead to substantial pain relief.
APM can be used to treat a variety of conditions: sports injuries, gastrointestinal problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, stress, acid reflux, and chronic pain.
6 Benefits of Acupuncture
Patients who receive acupuncture are often able to see positive outcomes, even in situations when traditional Westernized medicine can’t help. Here are six of the most common benefits of acupuncture.
1. Pain Relief
Nearly 70 percent of adults who receive acupuncture treatments are looking for pain relief. This includes patients with back pain, neck pain, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, knee pain, menstrual cramps, dental pain, and tennis elbow. Out of all the benefits of acupuncture, scientists have completed the most research in regards to pain relief. Their research shows that acupuncture prompts the body to release opioid peptides and endorphins. These are naturally-occurring brain chemicals that numb pain signals and reduce pain levels overall.
2. Healing Injuries
When an injury occurs, the body’s energy flow is blocked and disrupted. This usually surfaces as pain and swelling at the site of injury. With acupuncture, the body is able to release natural pain killers, natural anti-inflammatory hormones, and anti-stress hormones. Treatment can decrease the occurrence of muscle spasms and increase the range of motion of the injured area. Healing time is drastically reduced because there is an enhanced blood flow of nutrients and oxygen to the injury site. Acupuncture may even be able to improve post-injury performance.
3. Decrease the Use of Prescription Medications
Often times, acupuncture patients find that their treatment enhances the impact of their current medication or heals their body in such a way that their medication is no longer needed. For example, one study found that the efficacy of Prozac was enhanced when the depressed patients also received acupuncture treatments. Another study found that, in individuals with acid reflux, being treated with acupuncture was as effective as doubling the dose of their antacid medication. Similar results can be seen when comparing acupuncture to prescription painkillers—acupuncture is extremely effective at treating the cause of the pain and individuals no longer need the high-dose painkillers.
4. Improve the Immune System
Some research suggests that acupuncture can enhance the body’s production of white and red blood cells. Scientists have also found that acupuncture improves the activity of immune system cells (lymphocytes and natural killer cells).
5. Relieve Disease Symptoms
Up to 31 percent of cancer patients use acupuncture as part of their treatment plan. Although acupuncture has no impact on the disease itself, it is effective at treating cancer-related symptoms. This includes pain, nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, weight loss, fatigue, anxiety, dry mouth, hot flashes, constipation, and diarrhea.
6. Increase Energy
Acupuncture aims to unblock the meridians in the body and allow energy to flow freely. It improves the circulation of blood and oxygen. It also flushes out toxins that can cause fatigue. After acupuncture treatments, many patients report feeling more energetic and alert.
Acupuncture has a long and storied history. From the ancient Chinese to modern-day Americans, this healing technique has helped millions of people overcome physical challenges and rebalance their mind and body. When conditions don’t respond to common medical methods, acupuncture may be a better choice than Western medicine. In other situations, it may be useful to combine acupuncture with medicalized healing approaches. Whether it’s a chronic condition or acute health issue, acupuncture can be a very successful and safe form of healing.
About Dr. Alexander Kulick
Dr. Alexander Kulick’s unique medical background guarantees patients the best of conventional and non-traditional treatments with integrative medicine in NYC. Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. His postgraduate work was completed at Columbia University Graduate School, with a research fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering to conduct stem cell research. He is a graduate of the Sackler School of Medicine, University of Tel Aviv. Trained in Internal Medicine and Board Certified in Emergency Medicine, Dr. Kulick served in the ER for seventeen years, most recently as Senior Physician in the ER at Wykoff Heights Medical Center, a member of the Columbia Presbyterian Healthcare System.
For more information, please visit my website at: www.dralexanderkulick.com
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