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Acupuncture could relieve period pain

Saturday, April 24, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: acupuncture, menstrual pain, health news

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(NaturalNews) A recent study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics has found that acupuncture may be effective at reducing the pain experienced by women who are going through their period. Researchers evaluated 27 studies that included over 3,000 participating women. From these, the study team came to the conclusion that there is "promising evidence" concerning the viability of acupuncture in treating menstrual pain.

Doctors usually treat the nausea, diarrhea, migraine headaches, back pain, and other symptoms that accompany a woman's monthly period, with pain killer drugs. However, alternative treatments like acupuncture are gaining popularity because many have experienced superior relief from them without having to take pharmaceuticals.

The Kyung Hee Medical Center research team that conducted the study found that patients who underwent acupuncture treatment experienced a greater reduction in pain than did those who relied on drug treatments. They were unable to verify, however, whether or not the treatment actually affects womens' nervous systems when providing relief.

Acupuncture treatments involve inserting small needles into the skin at certain points, known as energy meridians, in order to relieve pain. It is commonly used to treat conditions like back pain, depression, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. A traditional Chinese medicine practice, acupuncture is believed to work by correcting the proper flow of "qi", or vital energy, through the meridian points.

Some skeptics wonder if a placebo effect is what patients are actually experiencing when they feel relief from acupuncture. Some studies suggest that patients who receive placebo acupuncture, where needles are placed far from meridians, experience similar results as those who receive real acupuncture, leading some to believe that perhaps simply inserting the needles into the skin provides relief.

Others claim that because it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how acupuncture works, that it must not actually work. However, this flies in the face of numerous studies that exhibit demonstrable benefits from the treatment, not to mention the countless anecdotal reports from real people who have experienced genuine relief from the therapy.

Researchers from the University of York and the Hull York Medical School recently published a paper in Brain Research, verifying that acupuncture treatments legitimately work neurally to deactivate the portions of the brain that process feelings of pain. Their scientific analysis gives tangible credence to what many already recognize as a reality concerning the effectiveness of acupuncture. Their study will also likely increase the acceptance of acupuncture as a viable treatment among mainstream medical professionals.

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