By: Elizabeth Williams, LAc, MAcOM, DiplAc I get this question often, and many people are surprised by my answer: what doesn’t acupuncture treat? Traditional Chinese Medicine, which includes acupuncture and herbal medicine, was the primary and comprehensive form of medicine in China for thousands of years, and was used to treat most any illness, be it physical or emotional, or affecting digestion, nerves, muscles, lungs, heart, vision, hearing... you get the idea!
Acupuncturists often see patients whose health issues have not been adequately addressed by western medicine. Many people are very lucky to be alive and well due to modern medical technology and life-saving pharmaceuticals. However, western medicine is not always able to treat chronic or less severe conditions that affect quality of life, other than to manage symptoms with pharmaceuticals, which often have harmful side effects. For example, many people suffer from anxiety, which can be quite debilitating. Anti-anxiety medications can bring some relief to these patients, but the confusion and “foggy” sensation experienced when taking these drugs mean that the patient may have just as much difficulty getting through their day when they take a pill as when they go without. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can be very helpful in treating anxiety, because they work at the root of the problem to address what is causing the anxiety in the first place. Herbal medicine uses natural substances that are specifically formulated to address the individual’s particular root issue, without side effects. In addition, I highly recommend that all patients being treated for depression and anxiety also see a counselor or therapist with whom they can build a solid therapeutic relationship.
Of course, no one type of medicine works well for every patient, or type of health problem. Some people respond better to chiropractic care, western medicine, homeopathy, etc. Obviously, anyone needing surgery, or with broken bones or having a medical emergency should be seen by western medical doctors.
The World Health Organization (the United Nations’ health authority) has identified several conditions for which acupuncture is recommended. Below is a small sampling of their list can be found on their website at www.who.int.
Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever) Dental pain and TMJ Depression Dysmenorrhoea (painful periods) Gastritis, peptic ulcer Facial pain Headache Hypertension Knee pain Low back pain Morning sickness Nausea and vomiting Neck pain Periarthritis of shoulder Postoperative pain Rheumatoid arthritis Sciatica Side effects of radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy Sprain Stroke Tennis elbow
My own specializations include stress and emotional disorders, including depression, anxiety, headache/migraine, and insomnia. I also treat patients with women’s issues, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, dysmenorrhea (painful periods), and difficulties during menopause. Problems with digestion is another specialty of mine. I have received extensive training in treating many conditions not listed here, and am happy to see patients with other health issues.
If you would like to discuss whether acupuncture would work for a certain condition, please call. If I do not believe that I can best treat you, I will refer you to another practitioner, or recommend another type of therapy.
Look for more articles on acupuncture, herbal medicine, and Traditional Chinese Medicine in the near future. If you would like to see an article on a particular topic, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.