Electroacupuncture is a form of acupuncture therapy and involves a small electric current being passed between pairs of acupuncture needles. It is used to increase the benefits of standard acupuncture and can be used to treat a wide range of issues including pain, rehabilitation from injury, anxiety and depression, insomnia, weight loss and may assist with infertility, pregnancy and labour.
Invented in China in the 1950s, modern electroacupuncture began as an attempt by Chinese medicine practitioners to be more efficient, being able to treat more people in a shorter amount of time. The electro machine could stimulate the acupuncture needles constantly, alleviating the need for the needles to be stimulated by hand every few minutes.
Not only was efficiency improved, but the inventors accidentally created a treatment that can have significant positive effects on biological systems such as gene expressions, endogenous stem cell release and antioxidant properties.
Acupuncture works using extremely thin needles made from stainless steel, which are inserted into specific points in the body, to stimulate nerves and tissue. The needles trigger various systems such as the immune and nervous systems, and promote circulation to the area, resulting in a harmonious balance of qi, the body’s life force. It is used for treating pain in the body as well as overall mental wellbeing.
Used alongside acupuncture treatments, electroacupuncture runs an electric current from an electro machine through cables which are attached to the heads of acupuncture needles. Two needles are placed around the point on the body and the current helps stimulate the muscle and tissue. The number of treatments required depends on the issue and the severity.
Chinese herbal medicine may be used in conjunction with electroacupuncture, specifically those herbs that help with balancing the qi levels in the body and those that promote relaxation.
Reasons to Choose Electroacupuncture
The benefits of choosing electroacupuncture are vast, and it is a suitable treatment for anyone to consider. It is a treatment that is easy, drug-free and has little or no discomfort or side effects. Some of the healing benefits include:
Pain, injury and spasms
Whether sustained from an injury, poor posture or general wear and tear, electroacupuncture can have a significant impact on reducing pain in the body. It can also assist with headaches, migraines and arthritis.
Electroacupuncture can assist with suppressing addiction as well as withdrawal symptoms when recovering from substance use. Stress reduction and pain relief are two primary benefits of acupuncture and treatment for these can assist with addiction recovery.
Stress, anxiety and depression
Electroacupuncture treatment assists the nervous system to achieve balance which in turn alleviates stress and anxiety symptoms. Energy levels can also be boosted and the body is re-energised, further assisting with stress and depression. Massage may also be included as part of the treatment which promotes relaxation.
People may be born with a specific gene, but not necessarily have the trait that gene is associated with – the gene may or may not be expressed, based on the actions and environment of the body. Acupuncture and electroacupuncture are able to affect the expression of certain genes.
Endogenous Stem Cell Release
Stem cells are raw, undifferentiated biological cells that transform to daughter cells and then either become new stem cells or become specialised cells such as blood cells, brain cells, heart cells etc. Stem cells are the only cells to generate new cell types so they are unique and extremely important in the repair of the body. Electroacupuncture has been shown to stimulate stem cells and possibly allow for greater pain thresholds and assistance with tendon repair and faster healing times.
Antioxidants are molecules that are able to inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation can produce free radicals leading to chain reactions that can damage cells in the body. Antioxidant molecules prevent these chain reactions. In one study1 electroacupuncture was shown to have an antioxidant effect to help protect neurons in the brain and is therefore a promising therapy for Parkinson’s disease.
Electroacupuncture vs. TENS
Electroacupuncture may be compared with a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator, or TENS machine, which can also be used to reduce pain. A TENS machine sends small electrical pulses through the skin to release endorphins and other substances to stop pain signals in the brain.
Electroacupuncture is thought to have a greater effect than a TENS machine for many reasons, such as the benefit of needles piercing the skin and therefore the current going deeper into the tissue. While skin has a natural electrical resistance, muscles and nerves have less resistance so the electrical current will have a greater effect.
Secondly, there are several types of electrical current that can be run through the needles. A microcurrent is one millionth of an amp and is too small to cause a muscle twitch or nerve response, but has an effect at a cellular level. Milli-current has broader effects on muscles and fascia, often used to strengthen muscle and relieve pain. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners can use different currents depending on the issue, such as muscle strains, ligament damage or connective tissue tears.
If you are experiencing pain for just not feeling great, perhaps electroacupuncture will be able to help – renowned and experienced Chinese medicine practitioners can discuss the best treatment for particular injuries or pain and have you feeling amazing in no time.