Why Nurses Shouldn’t Ignore The Potential Benefits Of Acupuncture
Think acupuncture is pseudoscience? Think again.
With long shifts on your feet and an enormous number of factors contributing to workplace stress, it’s no wonder burnout and turnover are so common in the nursing profession. From inadequate staffing to critical patients depending on you for care, stress has a major effect on nurses everywhere.
Where does acupuncture come into play here? There are several benefits you shouldn’t ignore.
Background of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is believed to have been used in China and East Asia as far back as 2500 years ago. The first recorded medical text of its use was found in The Yellow Emporer’s Classic of Internal Medicine dating from the Han Dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD).
The initial use of acupuncture in western civilization was recorded in Europe in the 17th century. It wasn’t until 1997 that the National Institute of Health acknowledged acupuncture as a medical therapy.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
While the World Health Organization identified over 360 standard acupuncture sites on the body, a large number of acupuncturists use the 14 traditionally identified points. Each point is mapped to a channel and correlates with specific organs and functions of the body.
During a session, an acupuncturist typically places microneedles into the mentioned points on the body (don’t worry, it usually doesn’t cause pain or discomfort!) and leaves them in place for up to 30 minutes.
While the science community doesn’t know the exact mechanism of how acupuncture is effective, there are a few hypotheses in circulation.
1. Acupuncture may excite biochemical and neurohormonal responses in the body via nerve stimulation
2. Acupuncture may reduce pro-inflammatory markers and reduce inflammation and pain in the body
3. Acupuncture treatment may stimulate the brain to secrete growth factor that helps in nerve regeneration
How Can Nurses Benefit From Acupuncture?
1. Acupuncture Can Reduce Stress In Nurses
Several studies have shown promising results in reducing stress in human subjects. A study published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies in June 2017 found that a large group of university students and employees saw a significant reduction in perceived stress after a 12-week course of treatments for several months compared to the placebo group.
With the insane number of stressors nurses face at work, acupuncture can be a viable option to relieve stress levels and ease anxiety.
2. Acupuncture Can Be A Viable Option For Pain Relief In Nurses
If there’s one thing nurses are familiar with, it’s aches and pains! Excess standing, walking, lifting, and bending can take a toll on the body. Pain makes it difficult to work and enjoy the activities of daily life comfortably.
A systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2017 evaluated the immediate analgesic effect of acupuncture on pain. The extent of pain relief from baseline within 30 minutes of the first acupuncture was compared to other interventions.
The data showed that true acupuncture resulted in greater pain relief compared to sham acupuncture and analgesic injections. The results of these studies are encouraging, but more research is still needed to truly understand the mechanism of pain relief for different types of pain.
If you’ve been experiencing a lot of stress or pain as a result of your nursing duties, considering acupuncture is a great alternative to other treatments that may not be working for you.
Have you ever tried acupuncture? What did you think? We would love to hear your feedback!
1. Stefanie Schroeder, James Burnis, Antony Denton, Aaron Krasnow, T.S. Raghu, Kimberly Mathis, Effectiveness of Acupuncture Therapy on Stress in a Large Urban College Population,
Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, Volume 10, Issue 3, 2017, Pages 165-170, ISSN 2005-2901, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jams.2017.01.002.
2. Xiang A, Cheng K, Shen X, Xu P, Liu S. The Immediate Analgesic Effect of Acupuncture for Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:3837194. doi:10.1155/2017/3837194