You need to get acupuncture. Yes, you. I know, I know - you’re healthy and doing fine and you’re skeptical about if it could help you or has anything to offer you. It can. It does. And here’s why.
Conventional medicine is mostly disease and crisis management, it’s not for disease prevention nor does it promote healing. Thank goodness for it when we need it. When you have an emergency, break a bone, have a stroke, or cancer – please go to the hospital. But western medicine doesn’t actually help you heal or improve, and in fact most drugs and medications have side effects that lead you down a slippery slope to needing more and more medications.
Acupuncture and holistic medicine help your body heal, prevent disease and illness from occurring, and help you cultivate optimal health. You don’t want to just not have a disease, you want to feel your best, right?
The biggest causes of disease, aging, and illness are 1) inflammation 2) stress 3) pain and 4) poor nutrition. These are the origins and causes of almost all disease. If you want to counter these factors, feel your best, age gracefully, and heal from illness or chronic disease – then you need acupuncture.
Still not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at each of those factors.
Health Disruptor #1: Inflammation
A little bit of inflammation is a natural part of life. It’s the body’s natural defense against damaged cells, viruses, bacteria, stress etc. When you catch a cold, for example, you may experience inflammation in the form of a fever as your body tries to protect itself and rid itself of harmful invaders. Or when you sprain your ankle, for example, and your ankle swells up and gets red, hot and stiff as your body tries to protect and support the ankle.
That kind of inflammation is good, but the modern epidemic of chronic, low-grade inflammation is harmful to your body and health and makes you more susceptible to aging and disease. It’s one of the driving factors of almost all disease – arthritis, asthma, autoimmune disease, all kinds of pain, bronchitis, chronic pain, diabetes, depression, eczema, fibromyalgia, gall bladder disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infertility, neuropathy, and the list goes on…
Doctors often gives a drug called Prednisone to fight cases of serious inflammation. It’s sometimes needed and can be life-saving but is a poor choice for the long term. It suppresses the immune system, and is associated with serious long-term side effects. Prednisone will cover up the symptoms, but it doesn’t address the underlying dysfunction and cause of the disease – which usually resumes once the prednisone is stopped.
Acupuncture has been shown in numerous studies to reduce inflammation. This article discusses the research showing that acupuncture influences adenosine, which is known to moderate pain and inflammation and the immune system. This study showed that acupuncture has an antidepressant-like effect thought to be due to anti-inflammatory mediators in the brain regions.
So once you've gone to the hospital and they’ve controlled the acute asthma attack, or set your broken bone, or stopped your heart attack… then say no thank you to their pain meds and book yourself some acupuncture treatments to start reducing inflammation and pain and start the actual healing.
Health Disruptor #2: Stress
Imagine a cavewoman 20,000 years ago sitting in the bushes and peacefully eating berries, when suddenly a saber-tooth tiger leaps out of the bushes. All the resources in her body shift away from digesting the berries and toward escaping the tiger. Her heart rate speeds up, her reflexes quicken, her blood glucose levels rise to supply energy to her muscles, her blood clots more readily in case she is slashed by the tiger. In short, she experiences the classic fight-or-flight response. Everyday maintenance functions, including digestive, immune, and hormonal functions are temporarily put on hold.
Fortunately, our cavewoman runs away, escaping the tiger. But in the modern world, escaping the tiger is an every-minute-of-the-day affair. Our phones keep us constantly alerted to news from all over the world and the constant demands on us and our time – up until the very minute we fall asleep. And our brains can’t tell the difference between “uughhh I have so many emails to respond to and I don’t have time” from “yikes, there’s a tiger chasing me.” As far as our brain is concerned, they’re both equal threats to survival. Stress is any thought, feeling or belief that makes your brain feel threatened. So that includes getting chased by a tiger, but also work stress, money worries, relationship struggles, and feelings of resentment, sadness, “I’m not good enough”, and anxiety.
A baseline level of chronic stress is much more common than people realize. And the cumulative result of this chronic stress can be devastating: elevated blood pressure, compromised digestive function, elevated blood sugar, chronic sleep disturbance, weight gain, suppressed immune function, and disrupted hormonal balance. Uncontrolled stress sets the stage for all diseases.
Great, so we need to relax and stop stressing. Knowing that is one thing, but actually doing that is another thing entirely. In fact, nothing irritates me more than someone telling me to “just relax.” Probably similar to you, I’m happily juggling what feels like a bajillion things - a business, treating patients, lecturing, and writing - plus trying to cook healthy meals, exercise, spend time with my friends and family, get out in nature, keep an organized home, all while also trying really hard to stay relaxed and make it feel easy-breezy. The desire to be relaxed and stress-free can sometimes feel like another thing on my to-do list of achievement goals. But stress is bad for me and my health. Sheesh, what’s a gal to do?
Acupuncture to the rescue. Acupuncture is proven to reduce stress and even reverse the effects of stress. You’ve probably heard of the “fight-or-flight” response that is governed by the sympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system has been called the “rest-and-digest” or “calm-and-connect” system, and in many ways, is the opposite of the sympathetic system. Research shows that acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that signals and regulates the parasympathetic nervous system.
Acupuncture is so good at reducing stress and inducing relaxation that it’s almost a side effect of acupuncture – it would result from acupuncture whether that was the primary goal of treatment or not. My patients float out of my office in a relaxed state. Every. Single. Time. They often forget to pay. Which is fine, because I always see them again :).
Acupuncture also addresses the effects of stress. Such as high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose levels, and insomnia, and returns blood flow from the extremities back to the inner organs such as the digestive and reproductive organs, leading to a huge increase in fertility and pregnancy rates.
Health Disruptor #3: Pain
People who suffer from chronic pain know how it can utterly disrupt life. Pain can make it hard to enjoy even simple daily activities and make it a challenge to carry out an exercise routine and other healthy activities.
Chronic pain is not all that well understood or managed by conventional medicine. It’s not always a manifestation of an underlying injury or disease. There is often no objective evidence or physical finding to explain the pain. Often, an underlying cause for the pain can’t be found or addressed, leaving the patient with very few treatment options from doctors. With the opioid crisis, doctors aren’t just doling out heavy drugs for pain management.
Acupuncture to the rescue - a solution for both pain and the opioid problem. Acupuncture is well-research to relieve all kinds of pain from headaches, to back pain, to fibromyalgia, and peripheral neuropathy.
Research shows that acupuncture is effective at treating pain for several reasons. For one, acupuncture releases the body’s natural painkillers. As shown in several studies linked above, inserting a needle into an acupoint sends a signal through the nervous system to the brain, where chemicals such as endorphins, adenosine, oxytocin, norepinephrine and enkephalin are released. Some of these substances are 10-200 times more potent than morphine!
I think the key to understanding how acupuncture both relieves pain and improves healing is in the blood flow - acupuncture is proven to promote blood flow. This is significant because everything your body needs to heal itself is in the blood - including oxygen, nutrients from food, immune substances, hormones, analgesics (painkillers) and anti-inflammatories. Restoring proper blood flow is vital to promoting and maintaining health. Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow and vasodilation in several regions of the body.
Health Disruptor #4: Poor nutrition and sub-optimal diet
We have a diet that is so off from what our bodies actually need to thrive. On your next trip to the grocery store, take a good look around. You’ll notice that once you venture past the outer perimeter and into the inner aisles, the majority of what you’ll find has been artificially manipulated in some way. The food industry learned long ago that selling packaged and processed “food products” is much easier and more profitable than selling fresh “food”. And this is not to our benefit. It is actively harming our health and well-being and leading to disease.
While those processed foods are designed to prey on our cravings, taste delicious, and are addictive, unfortunately our bodies are just not designed to withstand the abnormal concentrations of sugar and starch they contain. Eating these types of processed, chemical-laden and carb-heavy “food products” damages our tissues, causes oxidative stress and inflammation, and causes a state of excess insulin secretion called insulin resistance. This disruption of body chemistry sets the stage for disease, immune problems, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. If these processed foods are an every-day habit, sooner or later, disease and illness is inevitable.
Poor nutrition is a major cause of disease and illness, contributing to the development of health problems such as: obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, some cancers, and depression.
Nutrition not only plays a key role in the development of disease, it also plays a key role in the reversal and healing from disease. You can completely reverse type type 2 diabetes with diet. I’ve seen this countless times with patients in my clinic. You can mitigate, improve, and reverse so many diseases with diet: IBS, PCOS, infertility, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, diabetes, and the list goes on. Food really is the best medicine. And it’s just insane that doctors and patients don’t address the food they’re putting into their bodies FIRST (let alone, at all) when addressing illness and disease.
Part of the problem is that the current medical system both doesn’t educate our doctors in even basic nutrition; and then doesn’t allow them the time it takes to sit and educate patients on eating habits and nutrition.
Acupuncturists and holistic healthcare providers have extensive education on nutrition and its role in health and disease. They also, as a generalization, have far more time to spend with their patients to educate them on lifestyle and nutrition. Because we have lower malpractice insurance costs (the typical insurance for an acupuncturist is only $900 for a year), lower overhead in general, and don’t solely rely on insurance billing and reimbursement for income, we can spend a lot longer with our patients.
For this reason, everyone needs an acupuncturist or other holistic healthcare practitioner on their health care team. So often I’m able to solve a patient’s problem easily and quickly with simple dietary advice. Often, preventing them from going on an unnecessary medication with potential side effects. Neuropathy? You need more B vitamins. Migraine headaches? You need more magnesium. PCOS? Eat every 3 hours. Fibromyalgia? Quit wheat and dairy. Sometimes it’s not that simple, but those are great examples of food as a first-line of medicine.
Where do we go from here?
Inflammation, stress, pain, and nutrition are the four biggest factors driving illness, aging, and disease. Unfortunately, conventional medicine doesn’t have much to offer and reverse these factors. While they have fantastic life-saving drugs and surgeries that we should all be incredibly thankful for, they fall short in terms of healing and prevention. You’ve got to take that into your own hands.
The good news is you can 100% control these factors. All of these are things can be reduced, improved, and even reversed with acupuncture and diet changes.
Acupuncture reduces inflammation. Acupuncture reduces stress and reverses the effects of stress. Acupuncture relieves pain without side effects and drugs. And an acupuncturist can guide you in getting optimal diet and nutrition for your health conditions and goals.
By addressing and improving all of these health disruptors, your body will heal, stay healthy, and thrive.
That’s why you need to get acupuncture ASAP.