Old Man Winter is gripping us all, and for many, it’s difficult to feel like one is getting a good night’s rest, or being able to wake up fully the next morning. Fatigue is often the cause. The reasons? Not enough sleep, poor dietary choices, nutritional deficiencies and/or too little exercise are a few of the basic ones, and some are a little more life- threatening (heart disease, cancer, and neurological disorders). Fatigue is also felt by people going through and/or who have gone through cancer treatments. Fatigue poses a danger to sufferers because normal brain and physical activity is often compromised, in addition to a reduced quality of life. Also, The Boss tends to know you’ve been napping when you have keyboard marks on your face, and that can be a danger to the quality of your work evaluation.
Fatigue is a very common complaint that brings people to an acupuncturist — whether it’s from being on the go all of the time, dealing with stressful situations, or from an underlying medical problem like fibromyalgia, fatigue is a general term for a number of issues that affects people mentally, physically, or both. Fatigue is typically classified as a symptom as opposed to a condition.
Physical fatigue is indicated by a general lethargy or listlessness, while mental fatigue is characterized by a feeling of drowsiness and an inability to pay attention. Acupuncture is extraordinarily helpful with both physical and mental fatigue, as well as chronic fatigue syndrome — when the tiredness and heavy feeling won’t stop, and headaches and pain are added to the mix of exhaustion.
Acupuncture helps to improve fatigue immediately, after the first treatment. Often patients remark that for even other primary concerns, fatigue was the first improvement they noticed. That is encouraging, and helps them continue further treatments for the other perhaps more stubborn symptoms. Win/win!
Acupuncture isn’t just great for fatigue, it is also very helpful for treating all sleep problems. A preliminary report in 2004 found that in patients with anxiety, acupuncture increased night time melatonin production and total sleep time. The patients who received acupuncture also fell asleep faster, were less aroused at night, and were less stressed. The researchers concluded that, “Acupuncture treatment may be of value for some categories of anxious patients with insomnia.” This is excellent news, as many prescription drugs for insomnia are addictive and cause drowsiness or dizziness the next day, and come with other side effects.
Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and cause the release of neurotransmitters. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for insomnia. Acupuncture also reduces insomnia through increasing nighttime endogenous melatonin secretions. Melatonin = Snoozetime.
When treating fatigue specifically, point sites on the spleen meridian energy system will be considered, as well as possibly the kidney energy system. It is strongly recommended that sugar in the diet needs to be reduced. A complete history, with tongue and pulse diagnosis, helps to determine all the points to be included. As with any acupuncture treatment, all aspects of a person’s well-being are considered when dealing with fatigue, and treatments and council will correspond in kind.
Wouldn’t you like to feel well-rested?
For more information, please visit us at www.ctacupuncture.com
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J Neuropsychiatry Clinical Neuroscience 2004 Winter;16(1):19-28.
Acupuncture increases nocturnal melatonin secretion and reduces insomnia and anxiety: a preliminary report.
Spence DW, Kayumov L, Chen A, Lowe A, Jain U, Katzman MA, Shen J, Perelman B, Shapiro CM.