We treat people for insomnia frequently and it is usually helpful for sleep quality and duration. Improved sleep is also often a common unintended “side effect”/benefit of acupuncture, even when the points used aren’t specific to assist with sleep (for example, someone may come in seeking treatment for knee pain and find that they sleep better after receiving acupuncture).
A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials showed acupuncture to be a promising treatment for insomnia. “Based on the results of meta-analyses, the majority showed that compared with no treatment, sham acupuncture, or medications, acupuncture was significantly better on improving parameters in sleep quality and duration, and the combination of acupuncture and other interventions appears more effective than those interventions alone, though it was possible that the beneficial effect from acupuncture is overvalued because of the small sample size, flawed methodology of the included trials and the short follow-up duration.”
Although there is more research to be done, we are confident in recommending acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia based on our own experience providing thousands of treatments over the past 10+ years and results from studies like the ones above. Acupuncture is low-risk, non habit-forming and a pleasurable, relaxing experience for most people.
The next time you are suffering from a bout of insomnia or jet lag, we recommend trying acupuncture to get your sleep back on track. For chronic insomnia, regular acupuncture treatments are typically helpful for improving sleep quality and duration. If you’d like to try acupuncture for sleep we can recommend a treatment plan (number of treatments and treatment frequency) based on your particular sleep patterns. Hopefully you’ll find yourself sleeping better and feeling better overall as a result.
We treat people with acupuncture for chronic pain every day at Acupuncture Together, usually with successful outcomes. Chronic pain is defined as any pain lasting 3-6 or more months. There are various types of chronic pain, such as pain from past injuries or surgeries, arthritis, nerve damage, headaches/migraines and fibromyalgia. According to WebMD, “the feeling of pain comes from a series of messages that zip through your nervous system. When you hurt yourself, the injury turns on pain sensors in that area. They send a message in the form of an electrical signal, which travels from nerve to nerve until it reaches your brain. Your brain processes the signal and sends out the message that you hurt. Usually the signal stops when the cause of the pain is resolved — your body repairs the wound on your finger or your torn muscle. But with chronic pain, the nerve signals keep firing even after you’ve healed.”
A meta-analysis of nearly 18,000 randomized patients in high quality randomized controlled trials (RCTs) provides solid evidence that acupuncture is a useful treatment for chronic pain. Acupuncture was shown to be more effective than both sham acupuncture and no acupuncture, with patients experiencing less back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and chronic headaches.
Acupuncture helps alleviate pain by activating the nervous system and stimulating the immune response. This article explains these processes nicely. Research has shown that acupuncture increases the response of opioid receptors, helping the body process its own endogenous opioids, thereby relieving pain. Studies have also been done on the use of acupuncture for autoimmune related pain. This study on arthritic mice showed acupuncture being effective for anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulatory affects of acupuncture with the stimulation of just one acupuncture point. More research is being done on the mechanisms of acupuncture, but we hope that this information is a good start in educating you about the efficacy of acupuncture for chronic pain.
If you’re struggling with chronic pain it is certainly worth trying acupuncture, and we at Acupuncture Together will do our best to help. With regular acupuncture treatments you may be able to reduce or possibly even eliminate your pain, or use acupuncture for pain management. With the reduction of pain you can live a fuller and more active life.
New blood pressure guidelines have recently been published. The new standard is 130/80, a significant decrease from the old standard of 140/90. The good news is that medical professionals are recommending lifestyle modifications in an effort to reduce and control blood pressure before trying medications. Healthy lifestyle habits include stress reduction, a healthy diet with less sodium and increased potassium (essentially more fruits/vegetables and less salt/processed foods), exercising regularly and getting enough sleep.
Where does acupuncture fit in? In terms of addressing lifestyle habits impacting blood pressure, acupuncture is great for stress reduction and for improving sleep quality (reducing frequency/severity of insomnia and restless sleep). There are also certain acupuncture points which can help directly with reducing blood pressure. This article discusses benefits of acupuncture for hypertension according to several studies, and the use of specific acupuncture points. One small scientific study showed that acupuncture was beneficial for hypertension in patients who were taking medication for hypertension, but whose hypertension wasn’t well controlled. A weekly acupuncture treatment is a great way to reduce and maintain healthier blood pressure levels.
Many health conditions can crop up as a result of chronic stress and/or worsen due to stress. Some examples are indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); weakened immune function (i.e. frequent colds); hypertension (high blood pressure); headaches and migraines; menstrual irregularities, menstrual cramps, PMS and PMDD; anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression; insomnia; fatigue; low libido; and muscle tension and pain. Stress is often a factor in these conditions and others because it affects the nervous system and various hormones that are released in times of stress, affecting various systems of the body. It is important that people try to find ways to overcome the causes of their stress. Some like to use cannabis products, in a wide variety of ways courtesy of the many dispensary supplies that are available.
Acupuncture is helpful for stress and stress-related ailments because it helps to regulate the nervous system and hormones. There are also acupuncture points used for particular health conditions and symptoms, whether those symptoms are related to stress or not. The holistic approach of acupuncture takes into account both the “root,” meaning issues underlying one’s health condition(s), and the “branch,” or symptoms one experiences stemming from the root. With each treatment points are selected to treat both the roots and branches.
What can you do about ongoing stress, particularly when it’s situational (work-related, family-related, caretaking, etc.)? Take care of yourself as best as possible and find outlets for stress relief when you can. Exercise, deep breathing, time outside and talking with loved ones are all healthy ways to manage stress on a day to day basis. Acupuncture once every week or two is a great way to de-stress and stay healthy. If you have a health condition that is linked to stress, it’s helpful to obtain acupuncture regularly depending on the severity: once a week when mild, twice a week when moderate, and 3 or more times if severe. You can always ask an acupuncturist for a recommended course of treatment, and feel free to experiment with frequency for yourself to obtain an outcome that feels helpful for you.
Self care has become a trendy phrase, but it shouldn’t be considered a fad; rather, learning to be in touch with our physical and emotional needs and providing our bodies with timely care is a healthy long-term goal to have. Some self care is preventive (eating a balanced diet; regular exercise; getting enough sleep) and some is responsive (getting extra rest when you’re sick).
Where does acupuncture fit in? Acupuncture can be used as both preventive and responsive self care. Many of our patients find a weekly, biweekly or monthly acupuncture session to be a healthy preventive method of self care that keeps them feeling more relaxed, better able to cope with stress, sleeping more soundly or experiencing less pain. Others are so relieved when they can pop in for an acupuncture treatment on short notice for any number of things: relief after a stressful day, fatigue, a headache or migraine, acute pain, etc.
You can add acupuncture to your self care tool kit with other methods such as exercise, a warm bath or a nap. When your body is telling you it needs some relief, acupuncture may be just the thing that can help!
Winter is over and spring is here – hooray! Allergy season, however, is something that many people aren’t looking forward to. If you experience seasonal and/or environmental allergies, acupuncture can help boost your immune function and reduce allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, sinus congestion and/or pressure, runny nose, post-nasal drip, asthma and more.
The best way to use acupuncture for allergies is to start being treated in advance – a month or two ahead of time is ideal, once or twice a week depending on the severity of the symptoms you tend to experience. Once the buds are blooming and the pollen count is climbing, acupuncture once or twice a week should get you through the season more comfortably. For severe symptoms, being treated two to three times a week during allergy season is more ideal, and you may want to try some herbs to help as well. We have a few over the counter herb pills for allergies and can direct you to the best type to ease your symptoms.
Many of our patients come in seasonally for the management of allergy symptoms and are happy with their results; some are able to avoid taking allergy medication or reduce the amount they take when receiving acupuncture. If allergies are a problem for you, try acupuncture!
Sometimes people ask us what health conditions we treat most frequently at Acupuncture Together, or how acupuncture can help them. It’s also good for people to know that they aren’t alone with their health challenges, that these conditions are quite common and that we are experienced at helping people with these every day.
Musculoskeletal pain conditions (neck, jaw/TMJ, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, finger/thumb, carpal tunnel, low back, sciatica, hip, knee, ankle, foot/plantar fasciatis, toe and more) – Acupuncture is a great treatment for all types of joint and muscle pains, whether it’s due to arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, autoimmune diseases or other conditions such as Morton’s Neuroma, Baker’s cysts, De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, etc. In particular, low back pain is probably the number one most frequently treated condition of all. Acupuncture is widely known as an effective treatment for low back pain, and for pain in general. MDs and physical therapists often suggest to their patients that they try acupuncture for musculoskeletal pain, and we find that many of our patients are able to reduce or eliminate pain medications and sometimes even avoid surgery when they’ve been treated with acupuncture.
Stress – In our modern, fast-paced world, who doesn’t experience some degree of stress? Whether it’s related to work, school, family, health problems or rush hour traffic, most people feel themselves experiencing some stress and tension. For many people, stress can be the root of other troubles such as insomnia, muscle tension and digestive problems. Acupuncture is awesome for stress relief! It calms the nervous system, and as it works to reduce your stress, it can help to improve other stress-related symptoms, too.
Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Much like stress, anxiety and PTSD are big challenges for many people. Some people experience panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, a racing heart and/or inability to focus. Acupuncture is excellent for relieving anxiety, calming the “fight or flight” response and reducing associated symptoms.
Insomnia – Whether it’s difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, we’ve got some great points for you! Acupuncture is generally helpful for sleep, and there are specific points that we use for particular sleep problems (such as stress related or menopausal related sleep disturbances). Many of our patients who don’t even request treatment for sleep mention to us at follow-up appointments that they’ve been sleeping better after receiving acupuncture. If you’ve been having difficulty sleeping, definitely give acupuncture a try!
Infertility – So many hopeful parents-to-be come to us seeking help with fertility. Acupuncture helps to gently regulate hormones and can be used as a stand alone treatment or concurrently with fertility treatments such as Clomid, IUI and IVF to boost chances of conceiving. It’s also beneficial for stress reduction and overall health, and can relieve the uncomfortable side-effects of fertility medications. Some of our patients decide to begin working on fertility before they try to conceive, while others decide to give acupuncture a try after they’ve been trying for awhile. No matter the situation, we’ll do our best to help. We’re delighted to have seen many of our patients become pregnant and go on to have healthy babies!
Headaches & Migraines – We’ve seen many patients who were experiencing debilitating migraines experience positively dramatic results with acupuncture. Some patients who have missed days of work or leisure time, forced to go lay down in a quiet dark room, have been able to avoid those types of days and live happier, more productive lives when they receive acupuncture on a regular basis. Acupuncture can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines and other headaches, such as tension headaches and sinus headaches, as well.
Allergies – Seasonal and environmental allergy symptoms such as sinus congestion and pressure, runny nose, sneezing and itchy/watery eyes can be alleviated with acupuncture. It can be used for prevention/maintenance as well as for symptom reduction when the season/exposure is at its peak.
Pregnancy Support – Throughout pregnancy, acupuncture is a safe, natural and effective treatment for various discomforts and can be used to prepare for a healthy and efficient labor. Patients are frequently referred to us by their midwives for various pregnancy related concerns and general health issues when medications are best avoided during pregnancy.
Fibromyalgia – Experiencing widespread chronic pain is very challenging. Acupuncture is very good at pain management and reduction. We focus on generalized pain and also use points to target any particularly bad spots. Regular acupuncture alleviates the discomforts of fibromyalgia and can also help improve mood and sleep, so you feel a sense of overall wellness.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Acid Reflux/GERD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and other digestive symptoms – Digestive problems can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Acupuncture can help regulate and improve digestive function so you feel more comfortable, less distracted by symptoms and better able to enjoy life.
There are other conditions for which acupuncture can be helpful, so if you’re curious about being treated for something that isn’t listed above or on our conditions treated page, please ask! You are welcome to call us at 617-499-9993 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.