With opioid addiction on the rise, the need for alternative pain relief solutions is more critical than ever. Acupuncture is a safe, natural, and proven treatment for pain, and may very well be the weapon we need to win the battle against the opioid epidemic.
The Opioid Era
No one is safe from opioid addiction. Opioids don’t just include illegal drugs like heroin, but legal synthetic prescription drugs such as fentanyl, oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.
Doctors were wary of prescribing opioids for pain relief prior to the 1990s, but in that decade the paradigm shifted. Physicians began doling out opioids in the droves. By 1999 opioid addiction emerged as a major health threat.
By 2017, the prescription rate for opioids is triple the rate it was in 1999, and four times what it is in most European countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription opioids killed nearly 180,000 people from 2000-2015.
As opioid addiction awareness grows, there’s been a slight drop in opioid prescriptions. Prescriptions for the most addictive painkillers, such as Oxycodone have decreased by 13.1% from 2012-2015 (from 4.2 million in 2013 to 3.6 million in 2016).
It’s a start, but a slow one, Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s acting director explains. “It looks a little bit better, but you really have to put that in context. We’re still seeing too many people get too much for too long.” Enough opioids were ordered in 2015 to keep every American medicated round-the-clock for three weeks!
A Natural Alternative to Opioids
Acupuncture for pain relief eliminates the root cause of the pain problem, rather than just masking it with pain relief drugs. Research shows that acupuncture is a more effective treatment for pain because it utilizes the body’s natural mechanisms for pain management—stimulating the body’s production of “endogenous opioids”— without causing serious side effects. The most you’ll get is an occasional bruise.
In January 2016, the Joint Acupuncture Opioid Task Force, Acupuncture Now Foundation, and the American Society of Acupuncturists issued a letter detailing acupuncture’s benefits in the face of the opioid epidemic: “acupuncture has the potential to reduce or even in some cases eliminate the need for opioids and non-opioid drugs while also helping to treat opioid addiction.”
A 2012 examination of 29 published studies made up of more than 17,900 people highlighted acupuncture’s “clear and robust” effect on decreasing back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as osteoarthritis and headaches.
Other studies show that acupuncture can also help treat the pain associated with:
- Low back problems
- Sprained ankles
- Chronic conditions
- Carpal tunnel
- Old injuries
- Digestive disorders
- Premenstrual issues
How Acupuncture for Pain Relief Works
Acupuncturists work with the flow of qi through your body. Qi, or chi as it’s sometimes called, is the life force energy that travels through the body’s connective tissue along 14 designated energy pathways called meridians. These meridians and the acupuncture points on them are connected to every muscle, nerve, tendon, organ, and blood vessel in the body.
According to acupuncture theory, illness and pain occur when the flow of qi in your body becomes blocked. To get the qi flowing again and ease the pain, acupuncturists insert tiny, pre-sterilized needles, about ¼ millimeter wide, at specific acupuncture points.
Acupuncture for pain relief works, and not just by the placebo effect. Stimulating acupuncture points spurs the release of a substance called nitric oxide (NO) at the acupuncture site. NO, in turn, signals the release of natural painkillers in your body. NO also dilates your blood vessels. Subsequently, blood pressure is lowered and blood flows more freely.
Other Natural Solutions for Pain Relief
Natural herbs and supplements made with premium phytochemical extracts are a wonderful complement to acupuncture for pain relief. Pain is sparked by chronic inflammation, and alleviating that inflammation is key to subduing the pain.
Science celebrates three ingredients for their anti-inflammation properties:
Glucosamine—a natural lubricant and joint cushion found in joint cartilage.
Chondroitin—a sought-after joint-supporting supplement that supports joint mobility and eases muscle aches.
MSM—an anti-inflammatory that reduces swelling.
These three substances work together synergistically to lower inflammation and treat pain…and they’re considered safe and pose little risk for side effects.
But what about other natural pain relievers…like shark cartilage and green-lipped muscles? Now, you can find glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, shark cartilage, and green-lipped muscles, along with 21 other nutrient-rich ingredients with targeted pain-relieving properties in one high quality formulation. To learn more about treating pain with natural supplements, click here.