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Frequently Asked Questions

Does Acupuncture Actually Work?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions everyone wants to know!   Most people ask, “How does acupuncture work?” But what they really actually want to know is, DOES IT ACTUALLY WORK?  Acupuncture is becoming more and more mainstream in the US because it DOES work!

Acupuncture’s Popularity Has Stood the Test of Time

Acupuncture has been used for a lot longer than conventional medicine, literature that describes in detail the use of acupuncture dates back at least 5,000 years.   It started in China and variations of it have continued to spread throughout the world.   Have you heard the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Acupuncture may be an ancient medicine, applied without all the advances of technology and new drugs, but there is a reason it is still around and has not changed much for 5,000 years.  Millions of people continue to be introduced to this ancient medicine in the US every year as it continues to gain popularity in the West.

Acupuncture Successfully Treats Pain in Dogs and Horses

Acupuncture is not just beneficial because it may have a placebo effect.   It is a commonly used therapy to help relieve pain for dogs and farm animals in the US.  The animals do not understand how it is supposed to help them, yet many veterinarians can tell you based on their experience that their animal patients receive amazing pain relief benefits from it.

There Is A Lot of Scientific Research to “Prove It Works”!

Here are just some of the scientific explanations of how it works:

The gate control explanation is the most popular theory among western scientists.  According to this explanation, pain signals must pass through a number of high-traffic “gates” as they move from the area of injury upward through the spinal cord into the brain.   Like a road of highway, these nerves can handle only a limited number of nerve signals at one time.  Acupuncture generates competing stimulus and effectively interrupts the neurotransmission of the pain signals from reaching the brain.  The results: we never “experience the pain”.  This is used to explain acupuncture’s use in anesthesia.

The hormone explanation explains that acupuncture in certain locations can effect different hormones.  This is why acupuncture has gain popularity in recent years for fertility patients, especially those who were not successful with ART/IVF.   Not only are there are  blood flow changes after acupuncture, but also changes in FSH and estrogen that help regulate menstrual cycles and affect fertility and hormonal conditions such as “hot flashes”.     This explanation was posed by Dr. Oz when he stated that acupuncture works for weight loss because it has a positive affect on obesity related hormones, most notably gherlin and leptin.

The augmentation explanation has been proven by taking blood samples before and after acupuncture, showing that acupuncture will raise levels of prostaglandins, white cell counts, gamma globulin, and overall anti-bodies levels and this is why acupuncture can treat disorders related to immune deficiencies such as sinusitis, allergies, chronic infections, and weaken immune systems in patients fighting cancer.

The endorphin explanation has shown acupuncture to stimulate the secretion of endorphins in the body called enkephalins that act as our body’s natural pain killers.  They are several times stronger than morphine (which is the strongest pain killer prescribed).

The neurotransmitter explanation states that certain neurotransmitter levels (serotonin and adrenaline) are affected by acupuncture. Low levels of serotonin are linked to sugar cravings, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders, and addictions; this is why acupuncture is helpful for weight loss, mood disorders and addictions of all kinds.  This is why people feel so amazing after acupuncture.

The circulatory explanation states that acupuncture has the effect of constricting or dilating blood vessels.  This may by caused by the body’s release of vasodilators such as Histamine, in response to acupuncture.  For example, acupuncture can help resolve edema or chronic injuries, can by helping to increase red blood cells and white blood cells in areas that have scar tissue build up and blockages.

Does it hurt?

One of the next most frequently asked questions is obvious, does it hurt?  Acupuncture is virtually painless most of the time. When people think of needles, they usually think of hypodermic needles, the type used to give blood, but acupuncture needles are extremely thin, solid and flexible. A hypodermic needle also has a very blunt point (actually a wedge shape) in comparison to an acupuncture needle. 40 acupuncture needles can fit into the tip of one standard 18 gauge hypodermic needle.

Sensations that patients normally experience are a heaviness, distention, or warmth, which is associated with the insertion of the needles. This is a desired affect and should not feel painful. Many people do not even feel the needles being inserted. Most people find acupuncture extremely relaxing, and many fall asleep during treatment.



What conditions can acupuncture treat?

In 2003 World Health Organization published a report about clinical trials researching the effectiveness of acupuncture. More than one hundred indication were discussed and divided into four groups concerning the strength of existing evidence.  The results of 255 trials published before the end of 1998 or beginning of 1999 were included.  

Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved – through controlled trials—to be an effective treatment:

  • Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy

  • Allergic rhinitis

  • Depression (including depression following stroke)

  • Dysmenorrhoea (painful periods)

  • Facial pain

  • Headache

  • Hypertension

  • Induction of labour

  • Knee pain

  • Leukopenia

  • Low back pain

  • Malposition of fetus, correction of

  • Fertility (male and female)
  • Morning sickness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Neck pain

  • Arthritis of shoulder

  • Post-operative pain

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Sciatica

  • Sprain

  • Post-Stroke Sensory & Motor Rehab

  • Tennis elbow

~ Thank you for visiting San Diego Mobile Acupuncture’s Frequently Asked Questions Page

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