Acupuncture is a type of holistic medicine. It is used to treat pain, stress, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances and gut issues. In Chinese medicine, acupuncture is just a one its branches, along with herbs, massage, moxibustion and nutrition.
When treating insomnia, anxiety, stress and hormonal changes, acupuncture is my first choice of therapy. It is effective, non-invasive and (surprisingly because needles are involved) highly relaxing. Ultimately, when we want to encourage the healing process in your body, deep relaxation in the nervous system goes a long way.
How does acupuncture work?
- It calms down the nervous system by increasing central nervous system neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which helps you sleep better, have less anxiety and feel less stressed
- It regulates hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, which is life changing, especially in perimenopause and menopause with symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats
- acupuncture is one of the best therapies for pain, both chronic or acute, through releasing muscle tension, reducing inflammation and producing endorphins. That is why sometimes you walk out of the treatment room so happy and relaxed, sort of dazed. Some people call this “coming out of the acu land”.
- It can increase melatonin production, which is crucial for better sleep. It is good for overall wellness as well since melatonin is considered an antioxidant
- Acupuncture can help mild and moderate sleep apnea through strengthening the tongue muscle, decreasing nasal congestion and blockage, and decreasing overall inflammation, which can be at the root of sleep apnea
- Many of the acupuncture points stimulate digestion and absorption, which is important for so many disorders in the body. You may have heard the adage “all diseases start in the gut.” If I only had one system to focus on, that would be digestion
Ouch, but are we talking needles?
So you read all this and you are hopeful. Perhaps acupuncture could help you. If you are completely new to it, you should know that while you may feel the needles, it doesn’t really hurt.
You may feel the needle for an instant, then the sensation dissipates within seconds. I myself am so sensitive to needles, so I am certainly compassionate and take great care to make sure there is as little sensation as possible.
The best part? Most people finish the session greatly relaxed and some even fall asleep on the table!
I’m afraid of needles, except acupuncture needles.
– Katherine O’Hara
What does acupuncture treat?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture as a treatment for over 40 different conditions. My practice is more focused on sleep disorders and commonly associated symptoms.
Here are some common sleep issues treated with acupuncture in my practice:
- central and obstructive sleep apnea
- restless leg disorder
- night terrors
- bed wetting in children
- jaw clenching and TMJ
Symptoms or disorders that come up along with the above issues that I treat with acupuncture:
- panic attacks
- chronic and acute stress
- night sweats
- hot flashes
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto’s disease
- immune dysregulation
- gynecological issues
In holistic medicine we are looking for patterns. Instead of chasing different symptoms we are looking to figure out what the root cause is. It is like a tree, if the disease is at the root, treating the branches and the leaves is not going to do much.
When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.
– Anthony J. D’Angelo
Looking for the root cause is what the new and upcoming field of functional medicine is. However, Chinese medicine understood this concept thousands of years ago and always looked to figure out what the pattern of imbalance is.