Acupuncture goes beyond pain

by Moyee Siu, L.Ac. 


There is no doubt that acupuncture is remarkably effective for reducing pain. That is the main reason people go to their acupuncturists – for pain relief. Since we are a specialty clinic in neurological dysfunctions, a lot of patients come to us for problems such as stroke, paralysis and nerve pain. But do you know that acupuncture is effective for many other conditions as well? In this article I will introduce a few that we have very high success rates.

Before I get into the details, I’d like to quote a report published in 2002 by the World Health Organization- “ACUPUNCTURE: REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF REPORTS ON CONTROLLED CLINICAL TRIALS”.

This review written more than 13 years ago is limited to controlled clinical trials that were published up to 1998 and early 1999. The practice of acupuncture has exploded since then and many more research studies have been published. So the list of diseases proven treatable by acupuncture has increased many folds.

Here it said,

“To date, modern scientific research studies have revealed the following actions of acupuncture:
  •  inducing analgesia
  •  protecting the body against infections
  •  regulating various physiological functions.
In reality, the first two actions can also be attributed to the regulation of physiological functions. The therapeutic effects of acupuncture are thus brought about through its regulatory actions on various systems, so that it can be regarded as a nonspecific therapy with a broad spectrum of indications, particularly helpful in functional disorders. Although it is often used as a symptomatic treatment (for pain, for instance), in many cases it actually acts on one of the pathogenic links of a disease.
Although different acupuncture points and manipulations may have an effect through different actions, the most important factor that influences the direction of action is the condition of the patient. Numerous examples reveal that the regulatory action of acupuncture is bi-directional. Acupuncture lowers the blood pressure in patients with hypertension and elevates it in patients with hypotension; increases gastric secretion in patients with hypoacidity, and decreases it in patients with hyperacidity; and normalizes intestinal motility under X-ray observation in patients with either spastic colitis or intestinal hypotonia. Therefore, acupuncture itself seldom makes the condition worse.
Since its therapeutic actions are achieved by mobilization of the organism’s own potential, acupuncture does not produce adverse effects, as do many drug therapies.”
  • Balance disorders

Cerebellar ataxia, Meniere’s disease, vertigo, lightheadedness, inner ear infection.  This is one of our strength areas. While these diseases are considered difficult to treat by conventional allopathic medicine, we have relatively high successes fixing them. The benefits of acupuncture are backed by scientific clinical trials, as stated in the WHO report:

“Acupuncture might be useful in the treatment of Ménière disease for relieving symptoms and also for reducing the frequency of attacks. It seems to be more effective than conventional drug therapy (betahistine, nicotinic acid and vitamin B6) (219).”

  • Digestive disorders

Stomach pain, stomach ulcer, heartburn, indigestion, bloating, nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, nausea and vomiting after surgery or chemotherapy, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome.

According to the WHO report, “Acupuncture provides satisfactory relief of epigastric pain—significantly better than injections of anisodamine or morphine plus atropine, as shown in randomized controlled trials (128, 129). For gastrointestinal spasm, acupuncture is also superior to injections of atropine (130), and for gastrokinetic disturbances, the effectiveness of acupuncture is comparable with that of conventional medicine (domperidone) (131)”
For nausea and vomiting, “acupuncture at point nèiguān (PC6) seems to have a specific antiemetic effect. A recent systematic review of trials using acupuncture for antiemesis showed that 11 of 12 randomized placebo controlled trials, involving nearly 2000 patients, supported this effect. The reviewed papers showed consistent results across different investigators, different groups of patients, and different forms of acupuncture stimulation(132). Irritable colon syndrome and chronic ulcerative colitis are often difficult to treat with conventional medication. For these diseases, acupuncture may serve as a complementary or alternative therapeutic measure (133, 134).”
  • OB/GYN Disorders

Menstrual pain, PMS, infertility, fetal position correction, labor induction, lactation problems.

“Primary dysmenorrhoea, a painful condition, is one of the major indications for acupuncture in the field of gynaecological disorders. The beneficial effect of acupuncture on this condition has been repeatedly reported in controlled trials (153, 154). Acupuncture relieves pain and also regulates the motility of the uterus to facilitate menstrual discharge and further alleviate the pain. Premenstrual syndrome is characterized by cyclical mood changes and is a common condition in women of fertile age. Acupuncture seems to be helpful to patients with this syndrome. In a controlled study, the majority of the patients receiving acupuncture gained relief from symptoms and no recurrence in the six-month follow-up (155).
Various methods of acupuncture, such as pressure at ear points and moxibustion at zhìyīn (BL67) or zúlínqí (GB41), have been used to correct abnormal fetal position during the last three months of pregnancy. The success rates in groups treated with these methods were much higher than the occurrence of spontaneous version or in groups treated with knee-chest position or moxibustion at non-classical points (164.167). Acupuncture stimulates milk secretion after childbirth and can be used to treat deficient lactation due to mental lability or depression. It has been observed that acupuncture elevates the blood prolactin level in women with deficient milk secretion after childbirth; in the majority of cases, lactation starts as the blood prolactin level increases (168). The clinical use of acupuncture to promote lactation has also been demonstrated in a randomized controlled study (169).”
  • Psychiatric disorders and mental disturbances

Depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, quit smoking.

According to the WHO report, “Acupuncture is being increasingly used in psychiatric disorders. The effect of acupuncture on depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke) has been documented repeatedly in controlled studies (189.194). Acupuncture is comparable with amitriptyline in the treatment of depression but has fewer side-effects. In addition, acupuncture has been found to be more effective in depressive patients with decreased excretion of 3-methyl-4-hydroxy-phenylglycol (the principal metabolite of the central neurotransmitter norepinephrine), while amitriptyline is more effective for those with inhibition in the dexamethasone suppression test (192). This suggests that these two therapies work through different mechanisms. There have also been reports that, in controlled trials of schizophrenia treatment, acupuncture might have a better effect than chlorpromazine (194, 195).
Acupuncture (auricular acupressure) is much more effective than psychotherapy in the treatment of competition stress syndrome, and is worth further study (196).”
“In 1979, a study carried out jointly in Hong Kong and London showed that endorphin concentrations were raised by acupuncture in heroin-dependent persons, resulting in successful suppression of withdrawal symptoms. Since then, acupuncture has been used to treat dependence on a variety of substances. Many substance-abuse programmes use acupuncture as an adjunct to conventional treatment (198)…Acupuncture treatment has also been used in patients who wish to give up smoking…72% of the auricular acupuncture patients experienced disgust at the taste of tobacco (204). “
  • Respiratory disorders

Common cold, flu, cough, allergic rhinitis, sinus infection, tonsillitis, hives.


“In controlled studies, it has been shown that acupuncture is more effective than antihistamine drugs in the treatment of allergic rhinitis (111.115). Acupuncture’s lack of side-effects is a distinct advantage in treating this condition.”



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