Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been used to treat pain for thousands of years.
It can be used as a complementary therapy for a variety of chronic diseases, including ulcerative colitis (UC).
People with UC, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the large intestine, may find acupuncture helpful in managing symptoms, including pain and gastrointestinal (GI, stomach and bowel) symptoms.
This article will discuss the basics of acupuncture, how the treatment can benefit people with UC and other gastrointestinal-related problems, and its known side effects.
More about acupuncture
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine. There are 2,000 acupuncture points in the body, connected by pathways called meridians.
The pathways connecting the acupuncture points enable energy called qi, which contributes to the overall health of the body. Disruption of the flow of Qi can lead to disease.
When acupuncture needles are inserted into certain parts of your body, it improves airflow throughout your body, which in turn improves your health.
Acupuncture involves using hair-thin needles to penetrate body tissue. A needle is inserted into the skin by a doctor.
Studies have shown that acupuncture is an effective complementary therapy for a variety of diseases. Acupuncture may also involve the use of other techniques on certain areas of the body. These include:
- Suction (cupping)
- heat (moxibustion)
- electromagnetic energy
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Benefits of Acupuncture for Ulcerative Colitis and Gastrointestinal Symptoms
Acupuncture can be used to relieve a variety of ailments.
It is thought to help treat conditions such as UC. Studies have shown that acupuncture can reduce inflammation and disease activity in people with IBD, such as UC and Crohn’s disease, which affects the entire gastrointestinal tract.
Acupuncture is also beneficial for IBD patients. It can help:
- Gut flora imbalance
- The function of the intestinal barrier
- intestinal motility dysfunction
Research shows that using hot acupuncture (called moxibustion) can improve many gastrointestinal symptoms, including:
- stomach ache
Moxibustion, also known as moxibustion therapy, is a traditional Chinese therapy that involves burning a small piece of dried mugwort on certain parts of the body.
Acupuncture can also be effective in treating digestive problems such as:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
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How Acupuncture Reduces Pain and Inflammation
Acupuncture can be used to relieve pain caused by various diseases.
Acupuncture is said to work by releasing endorphins into the body. Endorphins help reduce pain.
Applying pressure to acupuncture points throughout the body triggers the central nervous system. This is thought to cause chemicals to be released into the brain, muscles and spinal cord, which stimulate healing mechanisms in the body.
Research has also found that acupuncture can trigger the production of cortisol in the body. This is a hormone that helps control inflammation.
In the treatment of IBD, studies have found that acupuncture and moxibustion can reduce inflammation in patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
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How Acupuncture Affects Stress and Emotions
It’s normal to feel depressed and/or anxious when you have a chronic condition like UC. In addition to being a useful tool for treating physical symptoms, acupuncture can be used to address symptoms related to stress and emotions.
Acupuncture can improve emotional health problems such as:
- Insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep)
- Neurosis (a mental health condition characterized by chronic pain and anxiety)
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Research has shown that acupuncture has a similar effect as antidepressants in helping to relieve symptoms when used to treat IBD patients with depression.
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possible side effects
Overall, acupuncture is considered a safe practice. However, it does carry some risks.
The most common side effects in people who have tried acupuncture are:
- minor bleeding
- Blood stasis
In rare cases, fainting may occur. This may be due to needle vibration. This is more common in the following groups of people:
- very nervous
- Acupuncture newbie
- have a history of fainting
What is needle shock?
One possible side effect of acupuncture is needle shock.
This condition is rare, but more common in the following groups of people:
- nervous about needles
- extreme fatigue
- have low blood sugar
Needle shocks can cause feelings of cold, fainting, and nausea.
The few people who try acupuncture may find that their gastrointestinal symptoms get worse before they get better. Usually, this is part of the healing process, however, if symptoms become severe or persist for more than two days, you should contact your doctor.
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Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been used to treat pain for many years. It can be used as a complementary therapy for various chronic diseases including UC.
Acupuncture involves using hair-thin needles to penetrate tissue. A needle is inserted into the skin by a doctor. Research shows that acupuncture can reduce inflammation and disease activity in people with IBD like UC.
Acupuncture can also help you manage various aspects of your emotional health and help improve symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Risks associated with acupuncture include minor bleeding, pain, and bruising.
Consult your healthcare provider if you are considering acupuncture as a supplement to your UC treatment. They can help you decide if it’s right for you and how to get started.
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Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat symptoms associated with pain and inflammation. This practice can be used as a complementary therapy for various chronic diseases, including UC.
Research suggests that acupuncture may help reduce inflammation and symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain, which may benefit people with IBD. If you are considering acupuncture to help manage UC symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most common treatment for ulcerative colitis?
There is no cure for UC, but there are treatment options. The type of treatment varies from person to person and may include:
- changes in diet or nutrition
Does acupuncture help reduce inflammation?
Acupuncture can help reduce inflammation by triggering the production of a hormone called cortisol in the body. This hormone helps control inflammation.
Research suggests that the use of heat and acupuncture may help reduce inflammation in people with IBD.
What are the disadvantages of acupuncture?
In general, acupuncture is considered a safe practice. Side effects may include bruising, minor bleeding, and pain.
In rare cases, fainting may occur. Some people may find that their symptoms get worse with acupuncture before they improve. This may indicate that the healing process has begun.
However, if symptoms become severe or do not resolve within two days, you should consult your doctor or primary care provider.
How Often Should You Get Acupuncture?
How often you should get acupuncture will vary depending on the condition being treated, the severity of your symptoms, and how your body responds to treatment.
Your doctor will be able to advise how often you should have an appointment.
Some people may not immediately notice the benefits of acupuncture. Therefore, it is recommended to try acupuncture at least five times.