If you’re feeling anxious about staying healthy this summer, you’re not alone. As the stressors pile up, it may be time to lie down, close your eyes, and go under the needle — the acupuncture needle, that is.
Acupuncture is a treatment that has existed for thousands of years. The fact that this treatment now often qualifies for insurance coverage shows that it’s finally recognized as an important complementary medicine; that is, when used alongside medication and other traditional treatment regimens, acupuncture can support healing and expedite recovery.
In fact, acupuncture is a preventative measure to keep such mood disorders as stress, anxiety and depression at bay, with minimal side effects. Receiving a series of treatments, combined with medication, yields optimal results. I always recommend that my patients use both. As they progress in their treatment, they often need less medication down the road.
The mind-body connection has received more attention than ever, thanks in part to the pandemic; last November, the CDC highlighted the intersection of anxiety, depression, and COVID-19. (Not only does the virus heighten the risk of depression and anxiety, but those with mood disorders appear to be at increased risk for COVID-19.) In keeping with that connection, acupuncture triggers physical changes in the body and brain that regulate mood and mindset.
Inserting the needle stimulates the body’s calming parasympathetic nervous system, increases mood-enhancing brain chemicals, relaxes blood vessels, fights inflammation, and calms regions of the brain associated with stress. Acupuncture is a holistic medicine, in that it can be used to the entire body.
I tailor my approach to the individual patient, using sterile, single-use needles approved by the FDA. With each 45-minute treatment, I work my way down the body from head to foot, inserting needles into specific points. Most patients start to see results after four visits, with optimal effects after 14 treatments. Patients range from teenagers to senior citizens, all of whom benefit from treatment.
My own acupuncture journey dates back to when I practiced as an orthopedic surgeon in my native Cuba, In the 1990s, one of my family members had a herniated disc and went to an acupuncturist for treatment. I was skeptical: “You mean to tell me they’ll feel better with needles?” After several treatments, he did. Then I began to study it more seriously, and began studying acupuncture and complementary medicine on my way to completing advanced coursework in acupuncture for physicians at Harvard Medical School.
For the past two decades, I have focused on acupuncture as a treatment for diseases from cancer to the coronavirus.
This is science, not magic. Acupuncture cannot cure diabetes or hypertension, but it can help decrease blood pressure and increase blood flow. It cannot cure migraines, anxiety, or depression, but it can boost circulation, increase your appetite, and help you start to feel better.
For those preparing for or recovering from surgery, please note that acupuncture stimulates our natural ability for self-healing. And it can help bring the peace of mind that’s key to well-being. Anxiety and stress are underlying factors that can make diseases worse. Acupuncture helps relieve that.