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How acupuncture and integrative medicine can improve quality of life

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Did you know the practice of acupuncture dates back to as far as 100 BC? Originating in China, this traditional Eastern medicine is also used regularly in the West by holistic healthcare practitioners. Our very own integrative medicine specialist Dr. Leslie Smith, MD, LAc, and licensed acupuncturist, Corry Meyer, LAc, use acupuncture along with other holistic techniques like cupping, herbal medicine, dietary counseling, and moxibustion to help our SIU Medicine patients heal from the inside out. In fact, we have a full Chinese herbal pharmacy in the Family Medicine department to make sure that our patients have access to safe, quality herbal medicine.

What is acupuncture?

During an acupuncture session, a trained provider gently inserts thin sterile needles into specific areas or trigger points in the skin that are located all around the body, from the head to the feet.

In traditional Eastern practice, acupuncture needles help improve the flow of an energetic life force called qi (pronounced "chi") through a person's body. From a biomedical perspective, acupuncture triggers a series of healing biological changes that impacts multiple physiological systems, including the central nervous system, and works through specific receptors found all over the body (such as CCK-8R).

Acupuncture sessions typically last around 15 to 30 minutes. No two experiences are exactly same, but most patients report little to no discomfort from the needles and beneficial effects may be noticeable within a matter of hours or days.

The exact duration, type and frequency of acupuncture sessions are most often determined by your health status and the amount of time that your concerns have been bothering you: things that have been an issue for a longer time take longer to resolve. Grounded in over 2,500 years of clinical observation, acupuncture is endlessly customizable and can be a healing and invigorating addition to any lifestyle.

Conditions that may benefit from acupuncture

At SIU Medicine, our integrative medicine specialist and licensed acupuncturist use acupuncture to help people naturally and non-invasively manage a range of common conditions, including:

  • Neck and low back pain
  • Joint pain
  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain
  • Premenstrual and menstrual cramps
  • Morning sickness
  • Stroke
  • Sciatica
  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Soft tissue injuries like ligament sprains and tennis elbow

Professional associations including the World Health Organization and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health endorse various studies that show the effectiveness of acupuncture for managing these conditions. Promising data also support the use of acupuncture for many other conditions, though more research is needed to clarify the technique's effectiveness.

As the interest in integrative medicine and holistic health care continues to increase, so too will the research on acupuncture and other natural techniques. SIU Medicine is prepared to be a major player in this growing field.

Health benefits of acupuncture

Various levels of scientific evidence supplemented with case studies and personal accounts detail the health benefits of acupuncture. Beyond managing certain health conditions, acupuncture may also help you by:

  • Alleviating allergy symptoms
  • Reducing stress
  • Boosting your immune system
  • Supporting digestive health
  • Relieving eye strain and supporting healthy vision
  • Improving mood, focus, energy and mental clarity

Acupuncture is safe when provided by a licensed and certified health professional and is well tolerated in people of all backgrounds and ages, including children.

Have you ever wanted to try acupuncture for yourself? We invite you to call us at 217-545-8000 to learn more about acupuncture and our other holistic care services. 

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