What Problems Does Acupuncture Treat?

What Problems Does Acupuncture Treat?

Acupuncture, a cornerstone of traditional Chinese medicine, has traversed centuries, evolving from ancient art to a modern-day therapeutic practice recognized globally. This technique involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to stimulate healing and wellness. Despite its historical roots, acupuncture has gained widespread acceptance in Western medicine due to its effectiveness in treating a variety of ailments. Below, we explore what problems does acupuncture treat.

Pain Management

One of the most common applications of acupuncture is in pain relief. Numerous studies have demonstrated its efficacy in treating chronic pain conditions, including:

Chronic back pain: Acupuncture can help reduce the intensity and frequency of back pain by promoting blood flow and triggering the release of natural painkillers in the body.

Arthritis: Particularly for osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, acupuncture has shown promise in reducing pain and improving mobility.

Headaches and migraines: Regular acupuncture sessions can decrease the frequency and severity of migraines and tension-type headaches.

Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Acupuncture is known for its ability to reduce stress and improve emotional health by balancing the body’s energy or Qi. The practice is believed to stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain, which can change the experience of stress, and promote physical and emotional well-being.

Stress: By reducing stress hormone levels, acupuncture can help mitigate the physical and psychological impacts of stress.

Anxiety and depression: Several studies suggest that acupuncture can have a positive effect on anxiety and depression, making it a complementary treatment for these conditions.

Digestive Disorders

Acupuncture has been found useful in managing various gastrointestinal disorders by enhancing digestive functions and alleviating symptoms of discomfort.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements can be effectively managed with acupuncture.

Nausea and vomiting: Especially postoperative nausea and chemotherapy-induced nausea, acupuncture at specific points has been shown to be particularly beneficial.

Respiratory Conditions

Traditional Chinese medicine uses acupuncture to treat and manage symptoms of several respiratory conditions.

Allergic rhinitis: Acupuncture may help improve symptoms of nasal congestion, sneezing, and runny nose associated with seasonal allergies.

Asthma: While not a substitute for conventional asthma treatment, acupuncture can be used as a complementary therapy to help manage symptoms and reduce flare-ups.

Fertility and Women’s Health

Acupuncture has been touted for its role in enhancing fertility by improving blood flow to reproductive organs and balancing hormone levels. It is often used in conjunction with other fertility treatments.

Menstrual cramps and PMS: Regular sessions can help alleviate the severity of menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome.

Menopausal symptoms: Acupuncture can help manage symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.


Acupuncture is effective for many health issues. Patients interested in acupuncture should seek treatment from a licensed practitioner to ensure safety and effectiveness. As with any medical treatment, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to see if acupuncture is right for you and how it might fit into your overall health plan.

If you are ready to see how acupuncture can benefit you, schedule a consult today by contacting Affinity Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine at 615-939-2787 and discover how acupuncture can transform your approach to managing ailments, paving the way for a healthier, more vibrant life.


By Dr. William Alexander

Acupuncture Found Effective for Depression Treatment

Acupuncture Found Effective for Depression Treatment

Researchers from Jinan University (Guangzhou, China) conclude that acupuncture is effective for the alleviation of depression. In the study, the acupuncture treatment group achieved a total efficacy rate of 88.9% and the drug control group achieved an efficacy rate of 84.8%. Patients in the control group received administration of the pharmaceutical medication fluoxetine (Prozac®). Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication. It is used for patients with depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, stress and anxiety, and other conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorders. The researchers conclude that acupuncture slightly outperforms fluoxetine for the treatment of depression. In addition, acupuncture treatment displays certain advantages compared with anti-depressant drugs. Acupuncture achieved a higher cure rate and the drugs had a significant adverse reaction rate.

Globally, depression is responsible for a serious impact on patients’ work performance and quality of lives. Hence, finding the most effective treatment has become a matter of utmost urgency to medical researchers around the world. Acupuncture has an ancient and well documented history for the treatment of mental illness. The study focuses on a scientific comparison between drug therapy and acupuncture therapy. 

The study involved the selection of 72 patients who received acupuncture or drug treatments at the Acupuncture and Psychology department of the First Affiliated Hospital of Jinan University. Patients were randomly assigned to a drug control group and an acupuncture treatment group. The treatment group was comprised of 17 males and 19 females, with an average age of 29 years and a depression medical history of 20 months; the control group had 20 males and 16 females, with an average age of 28 years and a depression medical history of 21 months.

The patients from both groups were comparable as there were no significant differences in terms of their gender, age and medical histories. It is important to take note that pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, and patients who recently underwent surgery were not included in the experiment. The patients fulfilling at least 4 criteria as stated below were selected for the study:

  • Prolonged melancholy (Loss of interest and happiness, Attenuated energy, Slow reactions, Low self-esteem and feeling guilty, Difficulties with imagination and critical thinking, Recurrent suicidal thoughts and behaviors, Sleeping difficulties such as insomnia, waking up too early and sleeping too much, Decreased appetite, Decreased sexual desires)

  • Socialization dysfunction

  • Symptoms listed above for at least 2 week duration

Each treatment course consisted of 10 acupuncture treatments followed by a 5 day break before the next course began. All patients received 4 treatment courses in total. Patients from the control group consumed fluoxetine hydrochloride tablets, once a day after breakfast. Every 10 days of tablet consumption consisted of one treatment course. A total of 4 courses were administered, with 5 days of break time between courses. During their courses of treatment, all patients received counseling by doctors in order to rebuild their confidence. They were not allowed to consume any other medications during the study.

After 4 courses of care, the acupuncture treatment group achieved an efficacy rate of 88.9%. A total of 21 patients were cured, 11 showed dramatic improvements, and 4 patients remained uncured. The control group achieved an efficacy rate of 84.8%. A total of 9 patients were cured, 20 showed significant improvements and 7 remained uncured. The efficacy rates show significant differences between the two treatments.

The drug treatment regimen achieved significant results but with difficulties associated with adverse effects. Compliance issues for pill consumption are compounded by withdrawal symptoms associated with non-compliance with medication schedules. The acupuncture treatments did not have any serious adverse effects. In addition, the total efficacy rate and the cure rate were higher in the acupuncture group. The results demonstrate that acupuncture is an important treatment option for patients with depression. A greater focus on the role of acupuncture for the treatment of mental illness in standard care settings has the potential to increase positive patient outcomes. Moreover, acupuncture has the potential to address physical ailments while simultaneously addressing depression. The successful clinical patient outcomes documented in the study point to the need for further investigations

Wei Bo, Xu Yi, Clinical observations on acupuncture treatment for depression, Journal of Jinan University (Natural Science & Medicine Edition), 2013, 34(6).


Acupuncture Found Effective for Depression Treatment

Acupuncture Relieves Depression, Benefits Biochemistry


From Health CMI

Acupuncture boosts antidepressant medication effectiveness and balances biochemistry. Researchers from Tianjin University of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) found that adding acupuncture to a fluoxetine drug therapy regimen of care increases the total effective rate by over 10%. In addition, the onset of clinical benefits was quicker for patients receiving acupuncture combined with paroxetine than for patients only receiving paroxetine, also known by the trade name Paxil.

Fluoxetine is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used for the treatment of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Two randomized groups were compared. The fluoxetine group had a 77.05% total effective rate for the treatment of depression. The acupuncture plus paroxetine group had a total effective rate of 88.85%.

The experiment reveals an important effect on blood chemistry for patients with depression. Acupuncture successfully regulated (interferon) IFN-gamma and (interleukin) IL-4 levels. The Tianjin University of TCM research is consistent with the findings of Zheng et al. finding patients suffering from depression have increased IFN-gamma levels and low IL-4 levels. The addition of acupuncture to the regimen of drug care successfully decreased IFN-gamma levels while increasing IL-4 levels. This regulatory function demonstrated by acupuncture’s effect on biochemistry demonstrates a homeostatic effect.

The findings suggest that depression presents challenges to the immune system and that acupuncture mediates immune system responses. S. R. Paludan from the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Aarhus in Denmark notes, “The two cytokines interleukin (IL)-4 and interferon (IFN)-gamma play major roles in the generation and regulation of immune responses.” Paludan adds that the “functions of IL-4 and IFN-gamma place the two cytokines at cardinal positions in the regulation of immune reactions.” 

The Tianjin University of TCM research finds that acupuncture balances IL-4 and IFN-gamma concomitantly with the reduction of depression. The acupuncture points used in the study were:

  • Hegu, LI4

  • Taichong, LV3

  • Baihui, DU20

  • Yintang, extra point

The acupuncturists elicited the deqi response with lifting and thrusting techniques for LV3 and LI4. For DU20 and Yintang, a pulling and pushing technique was employed to elicit deqi. Needle retention time was 30 minutes per session. Acupuncture was administered once per day for five days to complete one course of care. A total of four courses of care were administered. The researchers cite foundations for this treatment dating back to the Qing dynasty. Renowned doctor Ye Tian Shi stated that depression is due to blocked qi and heat accumulation in the body, Qi Zhi Re Yu.

The study confirms the findings of other important research teams. Qu et al. finds acupuncture effective for enhancing the effects of paroxetine for the treatment of major depression. Wang et al. find acupuncture effective for increasing the effectiveness of paroxetine for the treatment of mild and moderate depression. Wang et al. note, “Acupuncture combined with SSRIs shows a statistically significant benefit over a 6-week period compared with SSRI administration only.” In addition, acupuncture reduced the side effects of paroxetine intake including reductions of urinary and sexual disorders, headaches, dizziness, constipation, and sleep disturbances.

Chen et al. came to the same conclusions based on their research. Acupuncture increased the effectiveness of paroxetine. The researchers note, “acupuncture/electroacupuncture has a rapid onset of therapeutic effect and produces a noticeable improvement in obsessive-compulsive, depressive and anxiety symptoms.” Research across multiple studies demonstrates that acupuncture is safe, effective, and enhances the effectiveness of paroxetine for the treatment of depression.

Lin, H., Yu, Z. F. & Kang, F. H. (2014). Th1/Th2 Balance on Depression Patients by Acupuncture Treatment Combined with Antidepressant. Journal of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 30 (7).

Liang, W., Zhang, H. M. & Zhang, H. Y. (2010). Effects of Sertraline on Depression Patients’ Cell Factor Balance. China Pharmacy Journal. 21(18): 1685-1686.

Zheng, L. & Wang, Y. M. (2013). Depression Patients Serum IFN-γ, IL-10 level and NGF, NT-3 related research. Guizhou Medicine Journal. 37(7): 592-593.

Paludan, S. R. “Interleukin-4 and interferon-gamma: the quintessence of a mutual antagonistic relationship.” Scandinavian journal of immunology 48, no. 5 (1998): 459-468.

Qu SS, Huang Y, Zhang ZJ, et al. A 6-week randomized controlled trial with 4-week follow-up of acupuncture combined with paroxetine in patients with major depressive disorder. J Psychiat Res 2013;47:726–32. 13 Zhang ZJ, Ng R, Man SC, et al. Dense cranial.

Wang, S. H., Wang, Y. Z., Ma, X. H., Guo, Z., Yang, X. J., Zhang, W. Y., Guo, T. W. and Tu, Y. (2014). Study on alleviating side effect of paroxetine and improving quality of life using acupuncture in treatment of mild or moderate depression. Chinese Journal of Behavioral Medicine and Brain Science. 23 (3).

Chen, Junqi, Weirong Lin, Shengxu Wang, Chongqi Wang, Ganlong Li, Shanshan Qu, Yong Huang, Zhangjin Zhang, and Wei Xiao. “Acupuncture/electroacupuncture enhances anti-depressant effect of Seroxat: the Symptom Checklist-90 scores.” Neural Regeneration Research 9, no. 2 (2014): 213.


Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition affecting an estimated 5.8 million Americans.  Symptoms include but are not limited to chronic, widespread, and severe muscle pain; insomnia; fatigue; headaches; sensitivity to light, noise, and smells; dizziness; heart palpitations; skin rashes; and depression.  It primarily affects women between the ages of 35-50. 


There are no lab tests to confirm a fibromyalgia diagnosis, because it does not present evidence of damage to muscle and tissue.  The generalized body pain and stiffness, along with severe fatigue, must last for at least three months for an official western diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Additionally, a test palpating 18 points is often used as a diagnostic tool.  When at least 11 out of 18 points have pain or tenderness, it suggests fibromyalgia. 

Western medicine often treats fibromyalgia with medications for depression and seep, and NSAIDs for pain. 

Unfortunately, these medicines have adverse side effects, which can mimic fibromyalgia symptoms, when used for prolonged periods. These include headaches, nervousness, dizziness, fatigue, and sleeplessness.  Additionally, the medications treat the symptoms as opposed to the underlying causes of fibromyalgia. 

At Affinity Acupuncture, we have had many clients respond well to acupuncture treatments for fibromyalgia. 

The insertion of very fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body promotes the body’s response to heal itself. 

Increased and redirected blood flow loosens tight muscles, relieves pain and tension, and flushes out inflammation.

It also triggers certain hormones which promote sleep and relaxation, calm the mind and relieve stress.

While acupuncture can be effective, it is not an immediate cure.  Most people see improvement after two or three weekly treatments, including increased energy and reduction of pain, insomnia, and depression. 

Because every fibromyalgia sufferer experiences different symptoms, treatments are customized to the individual’s needs.  Typically, three to 10 treatments are required depending on the severity of the condition, and the individual’s personal response to treatment.  Over time, treatments are extended into a maintenance schedule.  Specific diets and herbal formulas may also be recommended. 

If you or someone you love is living with fibromyalgia, acupuncture may be a highly effective treatment.  Call 615-939-2787 to learn more. 

Some Scary Side Effects

This week, the news is full of articles about a link between long-term, higher dosages of a class of drugs called anticholinergics (often used for hay fever, depression, and bladder control) and dementia. While it is not a cause and effect relationship, there does seem to be a correlation. Long-term use of medications is not always necessary. Acupuncture can be effective for conditions usually treated by medication, such as allergies, sleep disorders, and high cholesterol. Additional information is available at https://www.affinityacupuncture.com/conditions-treated/. While we do not recommend stopping medication without consulting with your doctor, we welcome you to contact us with questions to see if acupuncture may be an effective alternative for you. 

Here are links to just a few of the articles about the recent findings: