What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Acupuncture? Chances are you’re picturing someone lounging in a fancy spa with hundreds of needles sticking out of their face/body. Most likely there is a scenario like that happening somewhere, but there is much more to modern acupuncture than a fancy spa treatment. In Western culture, studies have connected acupuncture to relieving the symptoms of stress, headache, gastrointestinal issues, back/joint pain, and has even been shown to alleviate symptoms in cancer patients.
Origins of Acupuncture
Originating in China approximately 2,500 years ago, acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat pain and illness. Acupuncture is used to stimulate various points of the body via the insertion of thin needles. Although, before the modern needles used today, sharpened bones/stones were used in early practice. Placing the needles into these specific areas of the body helps activate qi (ch-ee), the body’s vital energy that supports balanced health and well-being.
Modern Acupuncture Common Ailment Benefits
In Western culture, modern acupuncture serves as an effective alternative treatment for various common ailments. Acupuncture has shown impressive results as a viable treatment option for those suffering from the following conditions:
2012: A data analysis of acupuncture study patients showed that actual acupuncture was more effective than having no acupuncture treatment or simulated acupuncture.
2008-09: Several studies and analyses revealed actual acupuncture was highly effective in relieving tension-type headaches and migraines compared to simulated acupuncture or pain-relievers.
Neck & Back Pain
2012: A data analysis of data testing back and neck pain together found that actual acupuncture was more helpful than no acupuncture or simulated acupuncture.
2010: A review by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that acupuncture participants experienced immediate low-back pain improvement immediately after treatment.
2009: An analysis found that actual acupuncture was superior to simulated acupuncture in the treatment of neck pain. Additionally, a larger german study (14,000+ participants) revealed that participants receiving acupuncture reported greater pain relief than those that did not receive acupuncture.
2008: A systematic review of modern acupuncture studies for lower-back pain found strong evidence that acupuncture paired with usual care helps more than usual care alone.
2007: The American Pain Society issued clinical practice guidelines recommending acupuncture as a non-drug approach for physicians to consider when treating chronic pain patients.
Acupuncture & Cancer
In an article produced by the National Cancer Institute, they reported that acupuncture is a highly effective treatment for the pain management of cancer related symptoms. Cancer patients commonly use acupuncture for pain management, control of nausea and vomiting (N/V), fatigue, hot flashes, xerostomia, neuropathy, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance. In 2018 a retrospective data analysis was conducted on 375 cancer survivors receiving modern acupuncture treatments at the MD Anderson Cancer Center Integrative Medicine Center outpatient clinic. The analysis showed that patients saw both short and long-term improvement for multiple symptoms, such as hot flashes, fatigue, numbness, tingling, and nausea.
Notes from Dr. Chan
My approach to acupuncture is with the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I have fond memories of spending time with my Chinese grandmother in San Francisco Chinatown. As a young girl, I would wander a few stores ahead of her where I found myself watching the TCM physicians – standing in front of hundreds of wooden drawers containing various herbs. My grandmother and father taught me the principles of Chinese Medicine, yin and yang, the balance of medicine, and the balance of life. These things aren’t simply lessons from a classroom, but a way of life–something passed on through generations. I have been able to foster and grow this foundation I learned in SF Chinatown and my family with additional training. I am able to perform Chinese acupuncture and sports medicine acupuncture to assist with various ailments. I am also skilled in cupping (similar to moxbustion), gua sha (a form of Chinese scraping of the skin with an instrument to improve circulation and healing), and acupressure to improve your overall wellness.