Several clinical studies have found that acupuncture can markedly alleviate the pain and cramping as well as the length of the pre-menstrual cramping painful malady called dysmenorrhea.
Resulting from either an underlying condition of the pelvic region (“secondary dysmenorrhea) or from an unknown pathology (primary dysmenorrhea), dysmenorrhea is a relatively common condition that affects tens of millions of women all over the world each year. Around a quarter of dysmenorrhea cases regardless of type are impervious to the effects of a class of analgesics known as NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Long practiced in China for the treatment of premenstrual pain, acupuncture has just recently been scientifically studied in controlled trials to test its potency in treating this gynecological condition. One study of note that can be read in the 2010 edition of the Evidence-based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine journal targeted moderate to severe dysmenorrhea sufferers who had the condition for a minimum of one year and which NSAID treatment proved useless in ameliorating the pain. The study showed that all the women refused oral contraceptives, which is one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for dysmenorrhea.
The researchers discovered that 86.7% of the 15 women in the study had a significant improvement in pain and lessened their NSAID intake after acupuncture treatment in West Orange. The study indicates that acupuncture seems to the most effective treatment in the alleviation of pain in women suffering from primary dysmenorrhea.
In 2011, one Chinese study printed in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine and conducted at the Shandong Academy of Chinese Medicine participated in by 80 patients suffering from for more than three menstrual cycles was done. The women were treated with either no acupuncture treatment, “preconditioning acupuncture”(an acupuncture treatment before the start of their periods) or “immediate acupuncture” (an acupuncture treatment during their dysmenorrhea symptoms). The researchers discovered that patients treated with immediate acupuncture or no acupuncture experienced a lesser improvement in the duration and magnitude of their dysmenorrhea symptoms than patients treated with preconditioning acupuncture.
As opposed to hormonal contraceptives and other forms of Western dysmenorrhea treatment that more often than not have harmful side effects and are merely focused on specific symptoms, acupuncture is a branch of a holistic healthcare tradition known as TCM or traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture, as with all forms Chinese medical treatment, considers the body as an organism made up of interwoven systems that need to be in balance to achieve good health.
The traditional form of acupuncture involves the use of thin and long needles inserted into meridians or energy channels suggested by the specific health issue. This treatment is often used alongside other treatment methods including Qigong and other energy therapies, herbal supplements and lifestyle and dietary changes.
These past few years has seen the popularity of acupuncture rise like a meteor in the United States, in part because of an increasing volume of scientific evidence that back up its effectiveness. Some studies have proven acupuncture to be particularly effective in the relief of pain – so much so that many private insurance plans now cover it. Even the US military has now recommended acupuncture as a frontline battlefield treatment for their troops.
Acupuncture has been recognized by the NIH or National Institutes of Health for more than a decade to be a scientifically supported form of therapy and has endorsed it for several conditions such as pain and dysmenorrhea. Acupuncture is free of side effects, non-invasive, and totally safe to use.