Acupuncture and HIV
If you are living with a positive HIV diagnosis, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be powerful allies in helping you remain as healthy as possible, supporting you physically, emotionally and mentally, at whatever stage you are at. It is more important than ever to have a wholistic approach to caring for your health, and an acupuncturist can offer you this support in conjunction with your primary health care providers. Acupuncture may help to improve your immune system, energy levels and mood, and may be of benefit for concurrent health concerns or managing the side effects of medications. Taking care of your body's needs and your emotional well-being is vital and is the key to living well with HIV.
Acupuncture and Immunity
There has been extensive research into the effect of acupuncture on the immune system from a biomedical standpoint, which is of direct relevance for people seeking to use acupuncture for HIV. Acupuncture has been shown to have numerous effects on the immune response, including the ability to increase resistance to disease, increase the production of antibodies, increase the body's resistance to inflammation, and to reduce fevers. Specific points, such as ST-36 and LI-4, have been shown to increase the activity of leukocytes against bacteria, as well as to increase the total number of leukocytes and neutrophils in the circulation. Acupuncture has also been shown to increase red blood cell count, haemoglobin, platelet count and the induction of circulating interferon. Acupuncture thus may positively affect a range of factors that contribute to the overall immunity of a person living with HIV.
Acupuncture and Emotional Stress
It is very common, and also very understandable, for a diagnosis of HIV+ to affect your mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Acupuncturists understand that your emotional state is intimately related to your physical health, and that it is vitally important to address the stress, anxiety and/or depression that you may be experiencing. Some medications have emotional or mental side effects such as heightening levels of anxiety, and acupuncture can help to address this as well.
Acupuncture is an extremely relaxing therapy and there is ample evidence of its ability to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol whilst also increasing calming neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Acupuncture thus reduces the stress response and induces a feeling of calm and relaxation, which is invaluable for all levels of your well-being.
An acupuncturist experienced in working with HIV+ patients
In 2010, I founded a free acupuncture clinic in conjunction with ACON (Aids Council of Australia) to make treatments available to those with HIV/AIDS who might not be able to otherwise afford it. I ran this program for over two years before handing over to my lovely colleague, Kata Japuncic. While it was running, the program was a wonderful success and provided thousands of free treatments. Along the way, we both learned a great deal, and continue to feel very passionately about the benefits that TCM can offer to people living with HIV. I can offer a wealth of experience as well as sensitivity and awareness of the issues that you may be dealing with.
A whole-person approach
Acupuncture and TCM offer a whole-person, or wholistic approach to your care. Whilst there are specific points and strategies that we can use for your immunity, energy, stress levels, I will always take into account your mind, body and spirit so that each treatment is individually tailored to your needs. I can work in conjunction with your primary health care providers and might suggest other therapies that might be helpful, such as diet and nutrition counselling, exercise programs and stress-relief techniques.
During this challenging time, it is important to reclaim as much control over your health as possible. By working in partnership with your acupuncturist and other health care providers, you'll be taking a wonderful step towards regaining balance and living your healthiest possible life.
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