Alleviate These 5 Ills With Acupuncture

It's not a shot, but these needles are powerful medicine.

July 15, 2014

For every problem, there is a pill. Too bad many of those pills come with nasty side effects. That's why many people are starting to turn away from the risks of modern medicine toward different, more natural therapies like acupuncture. But don't confuse different with new. Although it's a new use of needles compared to the shots and vaccines of modern medicine, acupuncture is a centuries-old Chinese practice. 

Check out these five ills that acupuncture can alleviate:


#1. Cool Down Hot Flashes.
Menopausal women might want to put down the hormone therapies and sign up for acupuncture, according to research published in the journal Menopause. Reviewing the 12 studies totaling 869 participants, the researchers discovered that acupuncture reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes. More importantly, these effects weren't just temporary: Long-term effects on frequency and severity could be found up to three months later.

#2. Short-Circuit a Migraine.
Migraine meds are powerful drugs to deal with powerful pain, which means they can also have powerful side effects, such as gastrointestinal and cardiovascular disorders. Fortunately, acupuncture is coming forward as a safe alternative to pills, according to research published in the journal Pain Medicine. Twenty-four hours after acupuncture, participants reported a greater decrease in pain than those in control group. Also, 24 hours after acupuncture treatment, fewer participants required acute medical treatment following a migraine, and fewer participants experienced nausea or vomiting compared to the control group. In fact, the researchers noted that the chance of a second migraine was lower in the acupuncture group than in those taking triptans, a common class of migraine drugs. (Bonus tip? If you suffer from migraines, you may also want to ditch canned food.)

#3. Break Your Nicotine Addiction.
Going "cold turkey" on smoking isn't easy, but acupuncture can make it easier, according to research published in the journal Psychopharmacology. The brain and body respond even to visual smoking cues, creating cravings and leaving the individual susceptible to cigarette relapse. The researchers discovered that participants treated with acupuncture had significantly fewer cravings than the control group. Using brain scans, the researchers found that acupuncture affected brain activity in several reward-associated regions. 


#4. Lose Weight.
Many people struggle with weight loss because it's simply hard to eat less. Dieters get hungry and suddenly, their careful calorie counting goes out the window. But acupuncture has been shown to effectively curb appetite, according research published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine. The researchers discovered that acupuncture helped dieters reduce BMI by 6 percent and drop about nine pounds in eight weeks. "The most common reasons, dissatisfaction with and difficulty following the dietary regimen, were particularly notable in the control group," reported the researchers. "This supports the suggestion that the treatment groups found it easier than the control group to regulate the desire to eat."

More from Rodale News: 7 Weight-Loss Strategies From Chinese Medicine

#5. Get Rid of the Pain in Your Back.
Back pain isn't just uncomfortable; it can leave you stuck on the couch or seeking relief in a doctor's office. But research from the journal Alternative Therapies suggests that you don't have to keep suffering. The researchers found that a group receiving multiple treatments of acupuncture had significantly more decreased pain than those receiving just one typical treatment. This group also missed fewer days of work (half a day, versus one and a half days) and had fewer pain relapses (four relapses, versus seven) during the 12 weeks after treatment.

More from Rodale News: Skip the Ibuprofen: Use These Natural Pain-Relief Tactics Instead