One of the longest-lasting battles known to mankind is the one between hard-core scientists and alternative medical believers. The hard-core science people don’t believe anything that doesn’t come with a certified scientific label. The alternative medical believers trust millenniums of empirical evidence, and the results of their own body’s experiences. In the crosshairs of this battle is the ancient art of acupuncture.
Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese medical practice of restoring health by unblocking your body’s energy meridians. The practice uses needles, inserted at one of two thousand acupuncture points, to unblock the energy flow and restore health.
If you explain acupuncture to a hard-core science believer in the manner above, he will look at you as though you’ve lost your mind. Science has not been able to explain why acupuncture works, so of course it doesn’t – to the hard-core believer, that is. The truth is acupuncture does work, and science is slowly figuring out why. Recent research into acupuncture shows the therapy, whether it’s traditional acupuncture with needles or the modern version with pulsating electrical currents, can deactivate pain receptors in the brain, providing relief from chronic arthritic pain. The research also shows laser acupuncture stimulates phytochemical receptors in the skin, which also alleviates pain. Acupuncture also focuses the body’s defenses on the acupuncture site, stimulating the immune system to respond.
Arthritis and Acupuncture
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia are three forms of arthritis being treated with acupuncture. While science can’t explain the results, studies have shown the therapy to be an effective knee pain treatments. Pain levels are reduced, fatigue and stiffness are less, and mobility is improved by acupuncture. There are world-wide studies showing acupuncture as a viable treatment option, even though they can’t say why it works.
There are a number of studies showing acupuncture to be ineffective; these studies have to be carefully weighed, as to the quality and objectiveness of the study as performed. As in all studies, there are those showing a treatment to be effective, those showing it to be ineffective, and those with no clear conclusions. When there are far more studies showing a positive result, the negative studies need to be examined for methods and execution. If a treatment is truly effective, the negative studies are generally shown to be conducted poorly, casting doubt on their outcomes.
Should You Try Acupuncture?
Should an arthritis patient try acupuncture? Why not? Acupuncture is a two-thousand year-old therapy and its only known negative side effects come from the usage of unsterile needles. No treatment works for every person suffering from the rheumatoid arthritis pain; disease conditions are as individual as the patients, so something that worked for one person may be totally useless for another. The only way to know if acupuncture works for you is for you to try it. The relief can last for several weeks, so it’s definitely worth a shot. If it turns out to not work for you, it’s unfortunate, but you haven’t lost much by the effort, especially if your insurance covers the cost.
Finding a Certified Acupuncturist
As acupuncture involves needles, you need to be sure the practitioner knows his or her way around with the therapy. You can find certified acupuncturists at:
National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
American Academy of Medical Acupuncture
If you have a needle phobia, try to find an acupuncturist using elctroacupuncture. Electroacupuncture is practiced the same way as traditional acupuncture, but it uses pulsating electrical currents along the acupuncture points instead of needles. It is as effective as traditional acupuncture, but without needles.
As long as there are people, there will be a difference of opinion between hard-core science backers and alternative medical believers. Science is slowly coming around to supporting many of the alternative practices as new research finds the reasons why they work. Alternative practitioners may give you the Eastern philosophy behind the practice instead of a scientific explanation, but the bottom line is the therapies work. So, use them in good health, and turn a deaf ear to the naysayers – your body knows better.