Patients who have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis know all too well the pain that comes along with this disease. Many change their diets, focus on stress reduction, and take various drugs in desperate attempts to relieve and control the pain they suffer from. Some are never able to have good control of their pain and live debilitating lives; forced to quit jobs or even school.
Alternative Pain Management: Acupuncture
If typical pain control methods have not worked for your ulcerative colitis, it might be time to look into alternative therapies. One alternative therapy that has worked well for many patients with this condition is acupuncture. Studies have found acupuncture promising for patients with various inflammatory bowel diseases, including ulcerative colitis. It has also been found to improve the quality of life in these patients. Acupuncture helped my son during flares.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture has roots in Asia from over 2000 years ago. It is a traditional element of Chinese medicine. Small and specialized needles are inserted into the skin at specific points to restore the body’s energy balance, also known as “Qi”, pronounced as chi. Acupuncture became popular in the United States after 1972. Acupuncture is approved by the FDA and has helped patient suffering from many different diseases and conditions so they can take back control of their lives.
The traditional Chinese Medicine theory states that there is a meridian system within the human body. These meridians are invisible passageways for energy to flow through the body. When these passageways are blocked, certain organs and body functions can be affected, leading to pain and disease. About 360 different points in the body relate to specific organs or bodily functions. Acupuncture uses these specific points to help unblock the flow of energy and provide relief from pain and disease, including ulcerative colitis.
Acupuncture and Ulcerative Colitis
Tianshu (ST25), is an acupuncture point that regulates the spleen and the stomach. This is the most common point used in acupuncture for the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Other acupuncture points used for ulcerative colitis include:
• Shangjuxu (ST37)
• Daheng (SP15)
• Zhongguan (RN12)
• Zusanli (ST36)
• Taibai (SP3)
• Shuifen (RN9)
• Qihai (RN 6)
Acupuncture for Pain Control
It is believed that acupuncture helps decrease the pain and symptoms of ulcerative colitis by decreasing inflammation. Sometimes it is also used in conjunction with herbal medicines. The exact mechanisms by which acupuncture works remain unknown. From the standpoint of Western medicine, it is believed that acupuncture helps release endorphins, the body’s own natural pain regulating substances. It is also theorized that acupuncture helps release other chemicals in the body that can help reduce pain and bring about healing and regulate important body systems. Such chemicals include, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and cyclic AMP.
What to Expect During Treatment
After taking your health history and vital signs, your acupuncturist will begin needle placement. Most patients report little or no pain during the placement of the acupuncture needles. The needles are usually left in for five to 30 minutes. Most patients report a relaxed feeling during the treatment.
How Many Treatments are Needed?
The number of treatments needed for ulcerative colitis patients will vary. Because this disease is chronic, it may require up to two treatments per week over the course of several months in order to be effected and in order to see the full results.