What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese system of healthcare. It aims to prevent and treat specific diseases and conditions by putting very fine, solid needles into points of the body.
What conditions are treated with acupuncture?
Although acupuncture is not a “cure-all” treatment, it is very effective in treating several diseases and conditions. Acupuncture is most effective at treating chronic (long-term) pain, such as headaches, menstrual cramps, and low back, neck, or muscle pain. It can also be used to treat osteoarthritis, facial pain, digestive conditions and repetitive strain injuries. Acupuncture also can improve the functioning of the immune system (the body’s defence system against diseases).
It has also been known to help stress and anxiety disorders.
Acupuncture and its role in fertility
The overwhelming anguish and sense of loss experienced by women struggling with infertility issues is an unwelcome motivator, driving them to seek other treatment options to overcoming infertility. From home remedies, fertility drugs, and even surgery, to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and donor eggs and embryos, modern healthcare has vastly expanded the array of options available for couples struggling to conceive.
Traditional Chinese medicine, for example, has been practiced for thousands of years and includes techniques and practices such as moxibustion and acupuncture. Acupuncture in particular has rapidly grown in acceptance by the general public and medical professionals alike and practiced among therapists today. Not only is acupuncture valued for stress-relieving and relaxing benefits, but also as a component of fertility treatments.
When used in conjunction with Western fertility treatments, acupuncture increases conception rates by 26%. A recent study from Tel Aviv University reports, ““When combining IUI with TCM treatments, 65.5 percent of the test group were able to conceive, compared with 39.4 percent of the control group, who received no acupuncture.”
Acupuncture and its role in pregnancy
How can acupuncture help during pregnancy?
Many conditions which routinely crop up during pregnancy would benefit from a natural solution. Acupuncture, when provided by a trained practitioner, can give relief for a range of pregnancy related conditions:
High/low blood pressure
Migraine and other headaches
Pelvic pain (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction)
Acupuncture for those with breech babies
An adjunct technique to acupuncture called moxibustion has been used for many centuries to help turn breech babies. A herb called ‘moxibustion’ is 'compacted' into a cigar shaped stick, one end of which is lit and it's slowly smouldered directly above an acupuncture point on the little toe.
Acupuncture and labour
This can be beneficial for those who are wishing to go into labour naturally and wish to avoid induction. Certain points are used in the various trimesters for a variety of different issues.
After the birth
Acupuncture is used by new mothers to increase energy levels, to promote healing and to combat the 'baby blues’ by helping to restore hormones. It also is very helpful in treating mastitis.
Moxibustion can be used to prevent diseases and maintain health as part of tonification treatments to help strengthen the organs and immune system. It warms the meridians and expel cold. It can be used to promote circulation over areas of chronic pain or muscle tension.
The moxa material is compressed into a stick or pole, looking not unlike an oversized cigar that can be lit and allowed to smolder, producing a unique form of very penetrating heat.
The smoldering moxa stick is held over specific areas, often, though not always, corresponding to certain acupuncture points. The glowing end of the moxa stick is held about an inch or two above the surface of the skin until the area reddens and becomes suffused with warmth.
When is moxibustion used?
Moxibustion is used for:
Pain due to injury or arthritis, especially in "cold" patterns where the pain naturally feels better with the application of heat
Digestive problems and irregular elimination
Gynecological and obstetrical conditions, including breech presentation in late term pregnancy
Protection against cold and flu strains
Practitioners often do both acupuncture and moxibustion in the same clinic session when appropriate to the diagnosis and treatment strategy. Practitioners believe that the therapies increase each other's effectiveness when used together.