Age Gracefully with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine
To many, living into the “golden years” means chronic pain, frequent trips to doctors and specialists, replacement of deteriorated joints, or a never-ending list of medications. According to a 2008 National Health Interview Survey, 85.6 percent of adults age 65 or older in the U.S. had at least one of the top six chronic medical conditions.
We can take heart and find encouragement in Chinese wisdom. One of the earliest Chinese medical classics, the Huangdi , exhorts the living of a simple life, balancing activity and rest and observing the laws of nature as a way to a long, healthful life. This means paying attention to the rhythms of our bodies and knowing how to create balance in our lives.
The ancient Chinese paid close attention to how their bodies reacted to the environment and developed qigong, tai chi, acupuncture and herbal medicine to regulate the flow of qi (energy) through the body, bringing themselves back into balance.
Recent studies have shown that acupuncture works by affecting the pituitary gland, stimulating the release of hormones, and by reducing pro-inflammatory markers which lowers pain, increases energy and supplements the immune system. According to Chinese philosophy, acupuncture and herbal medicine are used to raise or lower energy, warm or cool where necessary, nourish blood and fluids and improve circulation, all to support the body’s natural healing process.
In addition to preventing and reversing illness throughout life, acupuncture and herbal medicine are often used to keep the body in balance as it goes through changes commonly associated with aging.
Reduce pain. Many studies strongly suggest that acupuncture should be an option for pain management. Electrical stimulation to the needles is often used to enhance the effect. Fire cupping is often added to relax and loosen the muscle tissue, and moxibustion for warming therapy.
Reduce menopausal symptoms. Several studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in reducing hot flushes, anxiety and depression associated with menopause. Herbal medicine is commonly used by acupuncturists to nourish and cool the blood and fluids in order to alleviate dryness and hot flushes.
Calm anxiety, relieve depression and reduce insomnia. It is common for people who have had acupuncture to report a feeling of calmness, peace and relaxation immediately after their treatment. It is possible that endorphin release is involved, but according to the classical functions, acupuncture and herbs balance rising energy associated with anxiety by calming and settling the Heart energy, and nourishing the blood, allowing for more restful sleep.
libido. Although the effectiveness of acupuncture for sexual health has not been studied, many people report having more energy and less tension with regular acupuncture treatment, which may improve depression and promote healthier relationships.
One of the advantages of acupuncture and herbal medicine is that each person is treated as a unique individual, with a treatment protocol designed to address the whole person, body, mind and spirit. In this way, it can be a means to cultivate health and prevent disease throughout life, as well as to encourage a return to balance during illness.
Beverly is a licensed acupuncturist, certified herbalist and owner of Lancaster Acupuncture LLC, a partner of Eden Natural Care Center, located at 600F Eden Rd., ,. Connect with her at LancasterAcupuncture.com.