Acupuncture is an ancient practice, and you have to think that if it’s been around for thousands of years, it must be helping someone. If it weren’t an effective approach to health, it would have faded away a long time ago.
At Family Acupuncture and Wellness our acupuncturists, led by Adam Learner, LAc, take a whole-person approach to helping you reach your optimal level of health. That approach often includes acupuncture, though it may also involve modalities such as massage, nutrition counseling, and other services. We find that acupuncture is often a cornerstone, though, in part because it may help strengthen your immune system.
Your immune system is complex. You’re born with an innate immune system, but you also develop an adaptive immune system as you’re exposed to various microbes and chemicals throughout your life. It works to protect you from invaders like viruses, and it also responds when you have a cut in order to prevent an invasion.
Like stress, we often think of inflammation as a bad thing healthwise, but both stress and inflammation play a crucial biological role. If you have a car accident, your stress response can help you remain calm in the aftermath. If you have a small wound, inflammation can prevent an infection.
However, when either stress or inflammation becomes chronic and lasts longer than a few weeks, problems result. Chronic inflammation is associated with numerous health problems, including serious issues like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Researchers are beginning to investigate how acupuncture may be able to tame chronic inflammation. They believe that acupuncture can stimulate your body to release a particular chemical that helps to tamp down your inflammatory response.
Another avenue of current research involving acupuncture is in easing cognitive impairment. Although this research is in the very early stages, it’s promising and seems to indicate that acupuncture may be able to regulate peripheral immune function and improve impaired cognition.
Studies have been performed on both animals and in humans. One group of researchers examined 15 past randomized trials involving elderly people with mild cognitive impairment and concluded that “acupuncture is beneficial for improving aspects of cognitive function in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment.”
We have long understood within our practice that acupuncture can help with anxiety and there is some scientific evidence, too. Although we generally think of anxiety as a mental health issue, it can also cause immune system impairment. Acupuncture may be able to help restore healthy immune responses in people with anxiety.
Acupuncture, when performed by a skilled and highly trained practitioner, has few risks, very little chance of side effects, and the potential to provide benefit, even in situations where other treatment approaches have failed. If you’re concerned about your immune system, you have little to lose by trying acupuncture.
If you have questions about how acupuncture works or what to expect, we encourage you to schedule an appointment for a consultation. We’re always happy to answer your questions and discuss your unique circumstances.