Ganit Kriel, L.Ac. is the lead acupuncturist at Thumos Health Center, an acupuncture clinic based in Pacific Palisades, with satellite clinics in Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, and Beverly Hills. Ganit’s medical practice focuses on women’s health and fertility.
Why Choose Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is becoming all the rage, with everyone from Kim Kardashian and Robert Downey, Jr. to stay-at-home moms and dads touting its praises. The ancient Chinese remedy has been heralded as the next great cure-all for everything from anxiety to menopause, and is often promoted as an amazing way to relax. If you’re a skeptic, though, quite a few questions instantly spring to mind. How does it work? Why does it work? Will it hurt more than the condition it’s supposed to treat? Here are a few reasons to choose this safe and effective remedy.
How Acupuncture Works
In acupuncture, small, thin, sterile, disposable needles are inserted into the skin. Different specific spots are used depending on the condition that is being treated. Acupuncturists follow “line of energy” diagrams on the body, so the place where the needles are inserted is not necessarily the spot that is being treated. The needles are typically left in place for 15 to 30 minutes. Many people report that they can feel the insertion, but that it is only a mild pinch or twinge. Once the needles are in place, they are usually painless.
Why Acupuncture Works
Exactly how acupuncture gets results depends largely on your school of thought. In traditional Eastern medicine, it is believed that all living things are filled with a basic life force known as Qi. This substance is powerful at helping the body heal itself and restore itself to an optimum balance, but it can become blocked by the stressors of daily life. Acupuncture opens the channels, allowing Qi to flow freely and support the body’s natural restorative processes.
Western scientists take a different view of acupuncture. Their studies show that acupuncture has powerful effects on the central nervous system, including the chemicals and receptor sites in the brain. It also causes microtraumas that stimulate the immune system’s healing response. More research is needed to pin down the precise, highly complicated interplay of chemical responses, but there is enough data that both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have approved its use for several conditions.
Conditions That Are Treated With Acupuncture
In the United States, acupuncture is generally used as an adjunct to Western treatment methods. Many acupuncturists work hand-in-hand with Western doctors to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. On its own or in tandem with Western medicine, acupuncture is frequently used for some common conditions:
- Lower back pain and sciatica
- Repetitive use injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow
- Neuropathy (nerve pain)
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome
- Allergies, asthma, and sinusitis
- Women’s health concerns including PMS, endometriosis, and menopause
- Fertility problems (both male and female)
- Pregnancy issues such as morning sickness and pain
- Anxiety and depression
- Substance abuse disorders
- Stress-related concerns including migraine headaches
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture is generally considered safe in most cases. If you have a pacemaker, consider getting the approval of your physician before you begin treatment. If there is any possibility of you being pregnant, let your acupuncturist know. While acupuncture helps many pregnant women, certain acupuncture points should be selected and used with caution by an experienced acupuncturist during pregnancy.
Does Health Insurance Cover Acupuncture?
Increasing numbers of health insurance plans are now recognizing acupuncture as a legitimate medical treatment, and provide coverage for it. On some plans, it is covered like any other medical service, while other plans limit the number of treatments per year. Still others provide a discount on acupuncture, rather than true coverage. Since health insurance plans run the gamut, call your insurance company or agent to determine exactly what coverage you have.