Acupressure, Acupuncture and Aromatherapy in Pain Management

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There are many patients suffering from different forms of chronic pain. Due to the lack of efficiency of the medications they take, many of them try out alternative and complementary treatments since these are generally viewed to be natural and risk-free methods. On the contrary, there are also experts which remind people about the misinformation that these complementary treatments may be giving to the public since these are not grounded on hard evidences yet. However, in the EFIC Congress in Europe, evidences to support the efficiency of acupuncture, acupressure and aromatherapy in managing pain.

According to Dr. Winfried Meissner, acupuncture can be efficient in tackling pain, even that which takes place after surgery. Several studies have found out that when acupuncture was applied in certain times post operatively, a moderate reduction of pain.

He also added that “The same goes for ear acupuncture, whereby patients sometimes subjectively do not notice immediate pain reduction, but verifiably require fewer additional analgesics. A role is certainly played by nonspecific or placebo effects, as for example the presence of a therapist or the expectations of patients. However, our own studies show that acupuncture, even in patients under narcosis where no placebo effect can come into play, produces similar effects in the brain as pain relievers. That is a clear indication of a specific analgesic effect through acupuncture.”

Dr. Konrad Streitberger of Switzerland also shared during the EFIC Congress that “Studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed that real acupuncture not only causes stronger activation or deactivation response patterns than placebo treatment in pain associated areas of the brain, but also that this effect can be modulated by a positive expectation. This shows that different mechanisms are at work in acupuncture whose complex relationships we do not fully understand and that will still require extensive research.”

Similarly, acupressure was also found to have a positive effect in chronic neck pain. Acupressure is a procedure just like acupuncture—just without the needles. Instead of the needles, finger pressure is applied to reflex points. A new study of Japanese researchers has proven that both acupuncture and acupressure significantly reduce chronic pain. Making use of these reflex points is beneficial because it has an effect to the autonomic nervous system. In effect, the procedure lowers the heart rate and increases heart variability.

Korean researchers have also revealed that certain aromatic and essential oils have aromatic and analgesic effects. The scientists investigated on the effect of rosemary, marjoram (oregano), lavender, eucalyptus and basil essential oils on mice samples. It was found out that eucalyptus and lavender are the strongest painkillers; in fact, it was evens shown that eucalyptus has a stronger analgesic effect compared with a similar dose of morphine.

 

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