Acupuncture for Neurological Health in Houston
The world’s population is living longer, so neurological conditions are becoming more common with time. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 1 billion people suffer from some type of neurological condition. These conditions range from migraine headaches to degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
Acupuncture treatment is a proven option among Chinese medicine practitioners and is efficacious in a variety of neurological conditions. The medical literature demonstrates this, to the point that acupuncture is now being integrated into treatment regimens used for neurological disorders.
How Can Acupuncture Help with Neurological Health?
Acupuncture is either a proven or promising therapy in many neurological conditions, including:
- Headaches, including cluster, tension and migraine headaches
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Bell’s Palsy
In some of these conditions, there are medical studies that show an improvement in symptoms or in the underlying biological mechanisms driving disease.
What Medical Research Says about Acupuncture and Neurological Health
There are numerous studies suggesting, or demonstrating, the benefits of acupuncture in neurological disorders. A few of those studies include:
- A 2020 meta-analysis published in Neurological Therapy. This analysis focused on migraine headaches and looked at 20 studies and other analyses, and thousands of patients were considered in all. The researchers concluded that acupuncture treatments could provide comparable or superior results to pain medication. While the authors of the analyses asserted a need for additional high-quality studies, they also determined that acupuncture could have prophylactic potential, helping stop migraines before they emerge.
- A 2019 analysis published in Front Integrated Neuroscience. That grouped together dozens of studies researching links between acupuncture and two major neurological disorders – Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
After considering several Alzheimer’s studies, the researchers found evidence that acupuncture could help with a signature clinical feature associated with
Alzheimer’s – the development of amyloid plaques in the brain. One of the studies the analysis considered – a 2015 study – noted a pair of Alzheimer’s-related mechanisms that acupuncture could improve. Specifically, they found that acupuncture could down-regulate an enzyme involved in amyloid production (beta-secretase 1), and that it could activate protein kinases responsible for breaking down the amyloid proteins. Animal studies included in the analysis also found evidence that acupuncture could reduce neuronal apoptosis, or age-related cell death.
The analysis also considered several Parkinson’s disease studies. These studies involved both human and animal subjects, and there were promising results in both. In human studies there were improvements in cognitive function, mood, behavior, depression, and motor symptoms. Some studies even found evidence that acupuncture could support urinary tract performance, reduce fatigue, and improve both balance and rigidity. In the animal studies, researchers determined that acupuncture could boost dopamine availability and balance out other neurotransmitters associated with Parkinson’s disease. Further, the animal studies demonstrated better neuronal survival in mice that received acupuncture treatment. Better neuronal survivability was also seen among dopaminergic neurons, which are badly affected by Parkinson’s.
There is much more research that reinforces these findings, demonstrating both symptomatic relief and improvement in the underlying biomarkers potentially driving disease. As such, it is possible that acupuncture could play a bigger role than an adjunct therapy for some patients, especially among those struggling with the side effects of neurological drugs.
How Does Acupuncture Support Better Neurological Health?
Acupuncture is a nervous system stimulator, making it uniquely suited for treating neurological and other nervous system disorders. How does this add up to better brain and nerve health?
- Stimulating the nerves related to self-healing and regulation – When inserted into the skin, acupuncture needles innervate nearby nerves, enhancing electrical activity to those nerves. When activated in this fashion, innervated nervous tissue can communicate better with adjacent tissues and set off various self-regulating processes that support better overall health, including neurological health.
The precise effects of acupuncture treatment depend on which acupuncture points are activated during needle insertion. Over thousands of years and lots of trial and error, Chinese medicine practitioners have discovered which points to target for particular pathologies. This includes neurological pathologies and disease.
- “Clearing” out blocked energy flows through the nerves – Houston Practitioners believe that energies responsible for supporting life (Qi, Yin and Yang) travel down the same pathways that nerve signals do. If a patient is suffering from a neurological condition, practitioners may ascribe the condition to blocked energy flows somewhere in the body. Acupuncture needles act like focusing rods for electrical activity, so they can increase energy flows to tissues by stimulating nerves.
- Improving circulation – Among the many cascading positive effects of acupuncture is improved circulation. Acupuncture stimulates the release of nitric oxide, an effective vasodilator that causes blood vessels to relax and permit increased blood flow. Poor circulation and nutritional delivery can exacerbate neurological conditions, and acupuncture can defend against this.
- Reducing stress and anxiety – Stress, anxiety and depression are comorbid with most neurological disorders – it’s difficult to remain upbeat and optimistic when experiencing a degenerative condition. However, acupuncture has proven efficacy with anxiety and depression. There is significant medical research that demonstrates this, as well as compelling reasons to believe in the effects. For example, acupuncture appears to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system – the part of the nervous system responsible for engaging the body’s “rest and digest” response. The relaxation response, in other words. Acupuncture treatments themselves can also be relaxing as they are performed in a quiet, dim room.
- Helping manage pain – Pain, including headache pain, is a common complaint with neurological disease. Acupuncture is a proven pain reliever, capable of performing as well as frontline pain medication in a variety of conditions. With better pain management, patients typically find it easier to handle other disease symptoms.
- Offsetting the adverse effects of medication – The above effects can offer a lot of relief in patients dealing with the side effects of medication. Some neurological drugs can cause headaches, fatigue, dizziness, GI symptoms and a host of other unwelcome effects. Acupuncture’s efficacy with these symptoms make it an excellent adjunct option for patients already receiving drug treatment for their condition.
Consult with an Experienced Houston Practitioner when Seeking Acupuncture for Neurological Health
Acupuncture is generally well-tolerated among patients of all ages. However, this is only the case if acupuncture treatments are delivered by a knowledgeable acupuncturist. Trained acupuncturists will target the right acupuncture points, ensuring better results.
Ideally, your Houston acupuncturist would also be licensed to perform western, allopathic medicine. A blend of western and eastern modalities tend to produce the best results, which means a dual-licensed physician can provide the best of both medical perspectives.