Acupuncture

Over the 2,000 years of acupuncture’s existence, acupuncture clinic has gone through some transformations. The materials that acupuncture needles are made from have changed from bamboo, stone, bone, and bronze to stainless steel. More importantly, however, due to modern technological advances, acupuncture needles now vary in thickness from very thick pins to hair-like needles, all of which also became much smoother than their ancient counterparts. A welcome addition to modern acupuncture clinic is electro-acupuncture. Manual acupuncture continues to be the core of acupuncture practice, but various properties of electric current, which were long studied for medical applications, have shown healing and pain-reducing effects. The best acupuncture clinics in NYC and Miami need to resolve a challenge: how can acupuncture relieve stress in the heart of the noise? Many buildings in New York City and Miami have noise insulation, which is crucial for an acupuncture clinic, but only together with calming music playing quietly throughout treatments, many patients can relax. Other than that, the role of acupuncture practitioners has been the same over the centuries—whether the best acupuncture practice in New York City, Miami, or any other place on earth—to collect patients’ signs and symptoms until the diagnosis becomes clear, and then to select and stimulate the best-suited acupuncture points until the symptoms and signs that helped establish the diagnosis dissipate. 

Orchid and acupuncture needles
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Acupuncture needles on a woman's belly

What Acupuncture Is Good for?

Acupuncture is a complete system and can effectively treat selected problems with the cardiovascular (arrhythmias, etc.), digestive  (gastritis, colitis, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.), endocrine (diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, etc.), immune (allergies, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune diseases, etc.), muscular (muscle spasms, fibrosis, fibromyalgia, myositis, etc.), nervous (headaches, pinched nerves, multiple sclerosis, etc.), renal (incontinence), reproductive (infertility, erectile dysfunction), respiratory (asthma, chronic bronchitis), and skeletal (osteoarthritis, sprains, etc.) systems. Acupuncture is more effective for some disorders than for others, but its efficacy also depends a lot on individual patients’ reactions. A big issue of predicting whether acupuncture would be effective for a specific condition is the differences in diagnosing disorders in allopathic (western) and traditional Chinese medicine. For example, a diagnosis of migraine in western medicine can include at least several different diagnoses in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, each of which would require a different acupuncture point selection. This is why each acupuncture treatment needs to be custom-tailored to the needs of individual patients, thus making the treatment outcome just as individual. 

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Several theories of how acupuncture actually works have been proposed over the years. Among all the proposed mechanisms, researchers mention most often anti-inflammatory effect, which provides nonanalgesic effects by suppressing inflammatory response, improving blood flow, or relaxation of muscle tone. Other mechanisms include regulating plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone, serum cortisol levels, activity of synovial nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), and the release of endorphins (Chou & Chu, 2018). At the same time, on and off, research studies stumble upon acupuncture’s capability to slow down programmed cell death (anti-apoptotic effects), which appears to be important in treatment of neurological disorders (Cai & Shen, 2018), and the World Health Organization now recommends acupuncture as an alternative and complementary modality for ischemic stroke rehabilitation (Chavez et al., 2017). Despite the great number of new advances that science has made, the exact mechanisms of how acupuncture works, however, is yet to be discovered.

Acupuncture needles on the back

Does Acupuncture Work Immediately?

In some cases, acupuncture can provide instant relief. More often than not, however, acupuncture works best within 3-10 sessions. Usually, patients report relief in their symptoms after each treatment session until the symptoms disappear. At the same time, while patients usually feel much or a little better after a treatment, the symptoms have a tendency of gradually returning within several hours or a couple of days. As the patients continue to come for treatments, their symptoms gradually become less frequent as well as less intense. For the best acupuncture, NYC and Miami residents envision maximum relief of symptoms that occur fast, and the Advanced Holistic Center is an acupuncture clinic that strives to have a Chinese acupuncture treatment accomplish that.    

Why Acupuncture Works?

It’s difficult to answer the question why acupuncture works? until scientists discover how acupuncture works. Experts in various fields such as neuroscience, molecular biology, biochemistry, psychology, and medicine expressed opinions that the effects of acupuncture are only placebo effects, and about just as many experts insist on the opposite, that acupuncture’s benefits are real (Wang, 2019). Placebo effect is so prevailing in medical clinic that besides being included in many majority of clinical research studies as a control group, some scientists think that it is part of regular treatment (Bialosky, Bishop, & Penza, 2017), while other researchers suggest that since placebo effect is so common and since it appears to be consistently (and perhaps even reliably) effective, it should be studied and used in or even instead of actual treatment (Tu et al., 2019). Is it possible that acupuncture somehow interferes with the placebo mechanism? Research should show that, and hopefully we will find it out in a near future. 

Acupuncture-for-Facial-Rejuvenation
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acupuncture points

On the other hand, acupuncture has a very long history, and while it may not be the panacea for all possible illnesses, it appears to have multiple effects on the human body. Research has unveiled some of its benefits, there is more to acupuncture than has been discovered. After all, there must be a number of reasons for acupuncture’s long history. Its effects may not have been scientifically identified, but they have been observed and exploited over the centuries. One of acupuncture’s effects has been proven, though: Unlike pharmacological or surgical interventions, acupuncture has very few side effects, and considering that acupuncture’s—as well as traditional Chinese medicine’s, in general—approach has always been to custom-tailor treatment to each individual patient, the best way to learn more about acupuncture’s benefits is to try it on oneself. One thing that research has determined with a high degree of certainty is that there is no harm in trying acupuncture, only benefits.