When it comes to acupuncture, the major news story of the past few years has been ‘battlefield acupuncture.’ While this type of acupuncture is slightly different from the traditional Chinese methods practiced in our office, this story reminds us of acupuncture’s incredible pain-fighting abilities and of the deep, ancient past from which modern-day acupuncture derives.
These days, Air Force doctors are using ‘battlefield acupuncture’ on seriously wounded troops during transport from the battlefield to Walter Reed Medical Center and Andrews Air Force Base. Acupuncture is helping troops suffering from burns, penetrating wounds, and other painful injuries and conditions.
The Navy has also been using acupuncture on Marines suffering from concussions and other head traumas, and the latest Defense Department and Department of Veteran’s Affairs clinical guidelines cite acupuncture as a complementary therapy for pain, sleep disturbances, PTSD, and anxiety.
If we turn back the pages of history, we find legends that suggest that this treatment first got its start in China during battle. As the story goes, Chinese soldiers wounded by arrows in battle (but not killed) were relieved of certain chronic and painful conditions. Even further back in time, the mummified body of 5,000-year-old Otzi the Iceman suggests that this copper-age man suffered from painful spinal degeneration; he also has 15 groups of tattoos that correspond to contemporary acupuncture points.
Today, we understand that acupuncture’s long march through time and history—and the fact that it is still practiced in 2011—is due to the proven effects of acupuncture on the body. We have a greater understanding of these effects today than ever before and acupuncture is recognized by respected medical authorities as a proven method of alleviating the symptoms of a number of conditions.
In fact, the World Health Organization has compiled a list of, “… diseases, symptoms, or conditions for which acupuncture has been proven—through controlled trials—to be an effective treatment.”* The list is a bit too long to reproduce in full in this blog, but some of these diseases, symptoms, and conditions are listed here (see below for the link to the full list of conditions):
Acupuncture in the West
The major players in the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, Copernicus and Galileo, ushered in a remarkable transformation in scientific thought that still affects us personally in modern times. The 18th century’s Age of Enlightenment and, finally, Darwin’s theories in the 19th century forever changed the way we think.
We are never content simply to know that something IS, we also want to know HOW and WHY. Countless patients have experienced relief with acupuncture. You undoubtedly know someone who has benefited from this practice. For some, however, it’s not enough to know that acupuncture works, we want to understand its mechanisms.
Let’s look at an example. We know that a number of painful conditions—migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, and depression—are closely associated with low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is directly involved in the transmission of pain signals and is also associated with mood. Acupuncture helps the body to produce serotonin. Acupuncture also affects levels of endorphins, which are naturally produced by the body and are chemically related to morphine and other opioid painkillers. In this way, acupuncture effectively reduces pain and alleviates unpleasant symptoms.
Please contact our Monmouth County Pain Management office to learn more about how acupuncture is used in Red Bank for the relief of pain during rehabilitation, or for symptoms not associated with physical pain.