Rethinking Medication and Choosing Acupuncture When it Comes to These Three Common Health Conditions
Western medicine has trained us to pop a pill whenever an undesirable symptom arises. We go to advil or Tylenol for a headache, without calculating if we’ve had enough water today, or perhaps we should take a break from computer use. We are trained to think to think of pain or discomfort merely through the symptoms and beeline towards symptomatic relief without proper analysis of the root cause. And that’s where acupuncture (or herbal therapy, supplements, naturopathy, laser therapy, etc) can come in. There are over 120,000 search results for clinical case studies about acupuncture, and research and revealing that it can even outperform common drugs for three common health concerns.
Insomnia. Everyone knows the feeling of tossing and turning at night, frustrated with the brain’s inability to shut off. Nearly one third of older people in Canada take sleeping pills in order to get a “restful sleep” while also suffering from the sometimes scary and debilitating side effects, not to mention risks of complications and dependence. However, according to research published by the Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, acupuncture had a 92.9% total effectiveness rate compared to common medication Zipiclone which only achieved a 67.9% improvement rate. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials deemed acupuncture superior to medications regarding the number of patients able to sleep over 3 hours per night. I had a patient come to me last month suffering from insomnia for the past 4 months, waking up at 3-4am with difficulty falling asleep. We did a series of weekly acupuncture for 4 weeks, and I also had her take Cortisol Manager, one of my favorite supplements for preventing midnight spikes of cortisol. She felt incredibly relaxed after each treatment and noticed an improvement in her sleep after the second treatment. We are now in the maintenance phase, doing check ins every 2 weeks for the next month, with noticeable improvement in her sleep quality with each session.
Anxiety. The Xuzhou Guangci Hospital conducted a clinical trial comparing acupuncture and a benzodiazepine medication in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Acupuncture provided a 93.75% total effective rate compared to 75% effectiveness with the commonly prescribed anxiety medication. Acupuncture is a wonderful tool for calming the nervous system and activating the parasympathetic aspect of the autonomic nervous system (the opposite of the fight or flight response we suffer with during times of stress and anxiety). Rather than chemically sedating the nervous system, acupuncture works with the body to produce the body’s own calming neurotransmitters without side effects or risk of dependency.
Chronic and Acute Pain. Nanyang Institute of Technology published a study confirming acupuncture was 96.9% effective in treating acute lower back pain 6 days post lumbar sprain compared to 72.7% total effectiveness with ibuprofen. Key studies have shown acupuncture to be especially effective in back and neck pain, osteoarthritis pain, and headaches. A study published in 2018 showed that 91% of the 156 patients reported qualitative improvement in their symptoms, and 32% were able to cut down on opioid medications. If the first randomized study to evaluate the long term effectiveness of opioid for pain relief found that those taking the medications were actually in more pain at 12 months compared to those not prescribed opioids. Acupuncture works to improve blood flow to the injured area (which is important for your immune system to heal), decrease inflammation, and send the message to your brain to release your body’s own, natural pain relief neurotransmitters such as endorphins.
Interested in trying acupuncture for one of the conditions above? Give us a call at 604-678-8600 to book a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation. We also have online booking if you are ready to book your initial appointment.
1. Liu Jinpeng, Meng Li, Yu Xinqian, Wu Ming (2015) “Sedative Qingnao Acupuncture to Treat Anxiety Disorders Randomized Controlled Study” Journal of Practical Traditional Chinese internal Medicine Vol.29 (8) pp.152-153.