It seems that at one time, the thought of having needles stuck in your body was more likely to conjure images of Pinhead from “Hellraiser” than Elle Macpherson and Gwyneth Paltrow. However, in these days, it seems like the concept has become much more desirable. Besides Macpherson and Paltrow, Oprah Winfrey and Jim Carrey are just some of those joining the long list of celebrities who swear by the power of acupuncture. There is a lot of proof that acupuncture is quite effective, and even more effective than many traditional treatments. Here’s a closer look at the ancient art of acupuncture.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a practice involving the insertion of needles into points that lie along the channels, or meridians of energy in your body connecting your body’s organs. This stimulation caused by the needles is thought to unblock energy to achieve qi, a balance of the body’s vital energy. Acupuncture has its origins in China and is thought to have begun 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.
How Does it Work?
While it is still not clear exactly how this phenomena is explained, it is speculated that it works by stimulating Raphe’s nuclei in the body, which increases serontin production. This is then thought to set off reactions which modulate inflammation and other parts of the immune response system. Since many skin conditions are linked to inflammation, it follows that acupuncture would likewise have a positive effect on the skin.
Acupuncture and Skin
Dr. Raja Sivmani, assistant professor at UC Davis and fellow researchers set out to evaluate the effects of acupuncture on several skin conditions including acne, hives (ueticaria), itchy skin (pruritis), and atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema causing dry skin. The team’s findings were based on past studies conducted in the US, China. Germany, Korea, Taiwan, and Sweden. Here are some of the results.
Studies of acupuncture treatments for atopic dermatitis were very promising, showing positive results to be significantly higher for those who underwent acupuncture treatments as opposed to those who received a placebo treatment or none at all. In the case of urticaria, or hives, acupuncture proved to reduce the duration of episodes more effectively than placebo acupuncture and resulted in a greater decrease in the wheals caused by this condition. One study showed that the wheals disappeared completely and increased the time between episodes for about a quarter of the patients.
One case reported acupuncture as capable of relieving dermatitis, while another was shown to be more effective than herbal medicine and vitamin C in clearing rashes caused by neurodermatitis. Four studies revealed acupuncture to be effective in treatment of HPV wart, facial elasticity, breast inflammation and excessive sweating. More conclusive studies have yet to be done on the effectiveness of the treatment on chronic inflammatory conditions, like acne.
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