Acupuncture has always been controversial, but this traditional Chinese medicine has had its effectiveness substantiated by research in the past, and continues to receive backup from medical researchers today. In fact, many studies suggest that it may be more effective than Western medicine in treating pain, anxiety, and nausea.

Recently, another study has come out on acupuncture’s side. This study suggests that pitting acupuncture against Western medical care may not be the best solution: In fact, they may be most effective when combined.

Treatment by acupuncture

Acupuncture, Depression, and Chronic Pain

A research team at the University of York recently compiled the results of 29 previous clinical trials to draw larger conclusions about acupuncture’s effectiveness. Between these 29 trials, more than 18,000 patients with chronic neck, back, head, and knee pain were included in this research.

The purpose of the study was to compare the effectiveness of acupuncture and standard medical care, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and physiotherapy, as treatment for depression and chronic pain. The results of the study found a clear argument for pairing acupuncture with standard medical care.

The study found that those who added acupuncture to their standard medical care saw a reduction in the number of headaches and migraines they experienced, the severity of neck and back pain, and the pain and disability of osteoarthritis. It also showed that patients with depression saw a reduction in the severity of depression that lasted up to 12 months after treatment if acupuncture and counselling were combined.

After closely examining the methods and results of these clinical trials, researchers were also confident that they could rule out the placebo effect as a factor in these studies.

Your Acupuncture Options

In addition to being effective as treatment for migraines, chronic pain, anxiety and depression, nausea, and a dozen other ailments, acupuncture is also affordable.

While many Western studies support the effectiveness of acupuncture, there is still little understanding of how it works. The Chinese believe that the body is networked with invisible channels that convey our life force, or qi. In acupuncture, small needles are inserted into the body to align with our energy channels, remove blockages, and free the qi to flow through the body freely.

Hypotheses for more scientific explanations of how acupuncture works are varied: Some scientists have suggested that the needles are accessing neurohormonal pathways that stimulate nerves in the brain, others believe acupuncture reduces pro-inflammatory markers in the body, and yet others believe that the insertion of the needle stimulates the brain to secrete some nerve growth factor.

Regardless of how it works, studies like these show that acupuncture can be effective as a treatment or addition to treatment for many different pains and ailments. From jaw pain to shin splints to asthma, acupuncture is safe and carries no risk of side effects. Why not give it a try?

To learn if acupuncture is right for you, call (02) 9686 7375 or contact us online to make an appointment at My Hills Dentist in Baulkham Hills. Dr. Andrew Ryu has a degree in Chinese medicine and is an experienced acupuncturist.