Acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old healing technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 1997, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) documented and publicized acupuncture’s safety and efficacy for treating a wide range of conditions. Acupuncture is now covered by many insurance policies and is used most broadly to relieve pain.
Acupuncture improves the body’s functions and promotes the natural self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites – commonly referred to as acupuncture points, or acupoints. The most common method used to stimulate acupoints is the insertion of fine, sterile needles into the skin.
Hundreds of studies have shown how acupuncture can be effective in the treatment of conditions such as back/neck/joint pain, headaches, anxiety, depression, nausea, cancer treatment symptoms, and infertility. What you may not know, however, is that researchers are only beginning to understand whether acupuncture can be helpful for various other health conditions.
For instance, did you know that acupuncture is being used to treat Alzheimer’s and hearing loss? A study conducted at Wellesley College in 2000 concluded that acupuncture could treat anxiety and depression for people who have Alzheimer’s. A second study at the University of Hong Kong in 2000 administered acupuncture treatments to eight patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. The research team concluded that after treatments were finished, participants showed significant improvement in memory and attention, as well as increased motor and verbal skills.
These studies show promising results and lay the foundation for longer and more controlled studies, which could drastically improve the lives of people living with Alzheimer’s.
Hearing loss (specifically, sudden sensorineural hearing loss) is another common health problem that researchers are finding could be improved through acupuncture treatments. They suggest that the use of acupuncture in addition to drug therapy increases blood flow and the flow of oxygen to the ear, thereby facilitating the recovery of nerve function.
Vision loss (in particular, age-related macular degeneration) is yet another example. A small study in China titled Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion; Observation on Therapeutic Effect of Age-related Macular Degeneration, found that acupuncture was 88% effective for macular degeneration patients versus 60% effective for a control group (which received vitamins and medication).
If you’re living with a health condition mentioned in this article, it’s certainly worth your time to contact a licensed acupuncturist and see if their services would be helpful.