Got pain? There’s a secret ancient Chinese treatment that may relieve your suffering: It’s called acupuncture.
OK, it’s not really a secret, but you’re probably not as familiar with it as you should be if you have chronic pain.
A while back, a huge research project reported in Archives of Internal Medicine looked at studies on almost 18,000 subjects and found that acupuncture relieved pain by about 50 percent.
Now, a new study in which researchers treated 153 adults suffering from fibromyalgia (a chronic, incurable disorder) with nine 20-minute sessions of real or fake acupuncture has shown that regular treatments can lower the pain by about 41 percent, compared with just 27 percent for those given sham treatments. The results were published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine.
But relieving pain isn't the only power held by acupuncture. Read on for four more reasons fit guys should try it.
As a fit guy, you know how important recovery is to your workout results—particularly clocking enough sleep each night. If you struggle to get restorative shuteye, try incorporating acupuncture into your lifestyle. Based on a meta-analysis—published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine—made up of 46 trials involving 3,811 patients with insomnia, going under the needle is a safe method of improving sleep. Compared with no treatment, sham acupuncture, or medications, acupuncture was more effective at improving sleep quality and duration—even more so than medication alone. What's more, a combination of acupuncture and other interventions enhanced the benefits. Also check out: 15 Things You Can Do During the Day to Help You Fall Asleep Faster at Night.
Relieve Anxiety, Boost Mood
People who undergo 20 minutes of acupuncture can lessen their anxiety and better their mood immediately after the session, according to a study published in the 2013 issue of the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. And feeling more positive means you'll be more motivated to hit the gym.
In the study, researchers had participants lie on a treatment table for 20 minutes while an acupuncturist inserted needlegs into select acupoints about half a millimeter away from certain nerves. This tells the nervous system to produce painkilling chemicals, which stimulates parts of the brain that control emotions, including anxiety. Acupuncture also slows the production of stress hormones in your body, according to a study published in the 2013 issue of the Journal of Endocrinology.
It turns out, allergy meds could be affecting your muscle growth. So, consider acupunture instead. When needles are inserted at specific points along your body, they can reduce your allery symptoms, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers looked at 422 people with pollen allergies and symptoms like a runny nose. Participants either received 12 acupuncture treatments and took antihistamines as needed for their symptoms, received 12 fake acupuncture treatments and took antihistamines, or took antihistamines only. At the end of treatment, two months later, acupuncture not only lessened the severity of participants' symptoms, but it reduced the amount of allergy medication they had to use. However, these benefits disappeared within another two months after treatment, so if your allergies are particularly bad, keep your acupuncture treatments fairly regular.
Aid Erectile Dysfunction
Like sleep and recovery, sex is a crucial part of an overall healthy, fit lifestyle. In a small pilot study, 16 men suffering from erectile dysfunction received acupuncture treatments twice a week for a total of eight sessions over four weeks, according to the research, which was published in the International Journal of Impotence Research. The same eight acupoints were punctured each time, and four were enhanced with low-frequency electric stimulation for 30 minutes. Based on a diary of both patient and partner, plus a follow-up interview one month after the study, 31 percent reported an increase in their sexual activity. Researchers also noted an improvement of the quality of erections by a small but still relevant 15 percent of patients.