From aiding in hair loss to minimizing symptoms associated with menopause, experts praise the varied powers of acupuncture.
For the Face:
To find a solution for a patient suffering from stress-induced TMJ, doctor of Chinese medicine Elizabeth Trattner considered the role of the patient’s organs. “In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), stress comes from the gallbladder and liver, so we can use acupuncture to target meridians and points in these areas and help control joint pain.” In conjunction with acupuncture, she uses gua sha to treat TMJ because it breaks up stagnation in the jaw. “But, if a patient is using the tool themselves at home, it’s important that they get a lesson from their doctor of Chinese medicine before diving in.”
While most studies on acupuncture deal with stress and musculoskeletal pain, Dr. Trattner believes that facial acupuncture has anti-aging benefits, and may offera more holistic approach to treating acne and rosacea.
“Headaches can stem from all sorts of factors like stuck qi—energy in Chinese—or PMS, and pinpointing the exact diagnosis is the key to finding a treatment method,” says Dr. Trattner. “However, not all of my headache patients are treated with acupuncture. Depending on the cause, some patients do well with a diet change, and some with herbs.”
“Acupuncture can be effective at fostering blood flow in the scalp,” says Taryn Violé, director of operations at Santa Monica, CA wellness center Seyhart, who claims that this major circulation boost may help with hair loss.
For the Body:
“Most people who get acupuncture for muscle pain can expect a decrease in its severity after just one session,” says holistic health practitioner Dr. Shari Auth. “Those with severe or chronic pain will likely need ongoing sessions—I recommend patients come in once per week—in order to heal.”
“Urinary incontinence affects about 40 percent of postmenopausal women,” says Dr. Auth. “While more trials are needed to show its effectiveness for treating incontinence, acupuncture is proven to be successful at treating an overactive bladder, and it can also reduce the urgency to urinate.”
Approximately 37.5 million women are currently in menopause or perimenopause in the U.S., and Dr. Auth claims acupuncture can help relieve the uncomfortable symptoms associated with them. “It can reduce night sweats and intense hot flashes, improve sleep, increase sex drive, and regulate menses and mood swings.
Having used acupuncture to treat everything from Crohn’s disease to bloating,Dr. Trattner offers a tip to help poor digestion in between appointments: “Try eating gently steamed veggies and drinking warm water with fruit, as cold and raw food can bloat the daylights out of people.”
One of the simplest ways acupuncture boosts energyis by increasing circulation.
For the Head:
“One of the most common complaints clients have is insomnia,” says Gudrun Snyder, doctor of East Asian acupuncture and founder of Moon Rabbit Acupuncture. “There is an acupuncture point called An Mian, or deep sleep, which can do wonders for insomnia.” Violé adds that she’s seen an uptick in patients struggling with insomnia because the pandemic has sparked anxiety due to factors like unemployment and health.
Dr. Auth says acupuncture can help increase energy in even the toughest cases, including those suffering from conditions like cancer or chronic fatigue. “One of the simplest ways acupuncture boosts energy is by increasing circulation. We all feel more energetic when our blood is moving—increased circulation gives us that extra pep in our step.”
“In TCM, the ear is a microcosm of the body,” says Dr. Snyder. “It has tons of nerve endings, so stimulating ear points, even pulling on your earlobes, can help your body relax.” If you want to skip the needles, but enjoy some Zen, she suggests trying ear seeds, which “are 24-carat gold beads you place on acupressure points in your ears to help treat anxiety,” which Dr. Auth recommended to clients while they were at home during the pandemic.
Touch and Go
Perfect for beginners, Violé recommends a no-needles practice called Tuina, which mirrors the effects of acupuncture. “Both experiences stimulate and move stuck qi along channels in the body, however Tuina requires physical touch from the acupuncturist, such as pressing, rubbing and kneading of the soft tissues, and it can be more intense than acupuncture.”