Sticking sharp objects into a person usually creates a flight response, but for those who don’t mind a little pinprick, acupuncture often enhances their life by relieving some of their pain rather than adding to it.
Acupuncture stems from Chinese medicine and is part of the holistic movement as an approach to heal the body, although many of the practices are based on science.
“We look at the mind, the body and the spirit all together and make an assessment then choose the points of the needle on that,” said Rita Ghodsizadeh of Worthington Optimal Wellness. “We do need to put the needles in for usually half an hour, because that’s the way the body works. They did do some imaging studies to see how long it takes to light up the brain, and it took 28.8 minutes.”
A typical session usually consists of a questionnaire assessing the client’s needs, finding the right parts of the body, cleaning the area with a swab and using sterilized needles. The holistic view states that the targeted points on the body help with the flow of energy, while scientists believe the practice probably works by stimulating the central nervous system, releasing neurotransmitters and hormones.
“The theory for pain is that our sensory nerves are fine, but our other receptor nerves are not going beyond that threshold where the brain gets the message of where the location of the pain is to send the analgesic to that area,” Ghodsizadeh said. “The analgesics in our body are much stronger than anything else on the market, than any medication, so why not use our own body to create the painkiller? You know it’s not going to cause any adverse effect.”
She also said that it teaches the body to calm down, so it’s often used to treat IBS and insomnia when symptoms get worse because of stress. Studies show that it enhances treatments for infertility, which is sometimes stagnated because women are stressed about the process. In fact, it’s so calming, most patients fall asleep during the treatment.
Worthington Optimal Wellness uses the practice mostly for treating pain—about 90 percent of its acupuncture cases—and patients typically undergo two sessions per week, though that varies depending on the ailment.
While there have been studies to show that acupuncture can help, there’s debate over its effectiveness. Many say it cannot cure as many diseases as the World Health Organization claims, but it does seem to help or enhance modern medicine.
“The acupuncture community has to really expand and talk to all organizations about the benefits so that people realize that it’s safe and it’s an option out there and works with anything, all modalities, like physical therapy, even medications,” explains Ghodsizadeh.
Hence, acupuncture is often used as a complementary treatment along with other standard options. So if people can overcome the minor pain of a few pinpricks, they may save themselves some major aches down the road.