In this series we take a look at some recent research into acupuncture from a Western scientific perspective, to help us deepen our understanding and appreciation for the many effective uses of acupuncture.
Acupuncture improves recovery time for Athletes
For athletes, whether amateur or professional, injury is an ever present but dreaded possibility. The rest time required whilst waiting for wounds and injuries to heal can be mind-numbing and infuriating. Once normal activities have resumed, the injury can flare up again if it has not been properly healed, leading to a vicious cycle of pain and frustration. This stressful scenario has led athletes, athletic doctors and physical therapists to search for better ways to treat sporting injuries and faster methods of healing.
Recent studies have validated the belief among athletes that acupuncture can help them recover more quickly from injuries. One recent study involving elite basketball athletes aimed to investigate the effects of acupuncture on the athletes' recovery abilities. Three groups were involved in the study: one group received acupuncture, one group received 'sham' acupuncture, and one group received neither. The study tested variables such as heart rate, oxygen consumption and blood lactic acid whilst athletes ran on a treadmill. The acupuncture group performed significantly better than the other two groups in all three categories, suggesting that acupuncture can effectively enhance recovery ability for elite basketball athletes. Further tests are in the works to truly pin-point the efficacy of acupuncture on athletic performance, recovery and injury but these preliminary results are certainly promising.
Read the study summary here.
Acupuncture can reduce our stress levels
We all know that stress is bad news. The biological and chemical stress reactions that once upon a time helped us hunt better or escape predators now cause us more harm than good. When these chemical stress compounds don't find the physical outlet that they were designed for, they accumulate in our body, weaken our immune system, and lead to a whole host of mental and physical health issues.
Acupuncture has long been thought of as a powerful way to fight stress and modern research is slowly revealing the mechanisms behind its stress-relieving effects. This study demonstrated that electro-acupuncture can cause a significant reduction of stress-related symptoms, whereas this study revealed one of the reasons why acupuncture has a protective effect against stress. It appears that acupuncture blocks the chronic, stress-induced elevations of the HPA axis hormones and the sympathetic NPY pathway, thus reducing the sympathetic nervous system reaction to stress. More research will surely reveal different mechanism and help us shed light on the reason why this ancient form of medicine works so well against this modern malady. In the meantime, please consider acupuncture as a safe and natural way to treat stress before it gets out of control.
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Acupuncture and Stress
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