Alternative Medicine

How does acupuncture treat chronic fatigue syndrome?
Answered by Discovery Fit & Health
  • Discovery Fit & Health

    Discovery Fit & Health

  1. People with chronic fatigue syndrome have the kind of fatigue that lasts a long time and limits their ability to do everyday activities. They're usually diagnosed with the disease after six months or more of fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, trouble sleeping, tender lymph nodes, pain in several joints and soreness in their throats. The syndrome, which is most common among women in their 40s and 50s, is difficult to diagnose and treat [source: National Library of Medicine].

    Doctors approach management of chronic fatigue syndrome from many angles. Patients may receive medications to treat specific symptoms, such as pain or trouble sleeping. They also often receive counseling to help them cope with symptoms and guidance to help begin exercising as regularly as possible. Alternative therapies might include techniques to assist with breathing and muscle relaxation, stretching, yoga or tai chi and nutritional and herbal supplements [source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].

    There are few clinical trials to prove that acupuncture can treat chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms, much less help do away with the disease. Observational trials have shown positive results, so some patients have considered acupuncture [source: British Acupuncture Council]. It's possible that acupuncture can help relieve symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, headaches, sleep difficulties and fatigue. To do this, the acupuncturist stimulates nerves in muscles and other tissues.

    Acupuncture treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome also often focus on the meridians (the energy channels important to acupuncturists) around the kidney, liver, lungs and spleen. These organs are chosen because of their connection to a properly functioning immune system. The acupuncturist will insert tiny needles on points along the relevant meridians, with the goal of bringing the energy flow around those areas to their optimal level.

    Acupuncture has been used in China and other eastern cultures for many thousands of years. The traditional form of acupuncture takes a holistic approach to health management, and customizes care for each patient based on his or her unique needs. The purpose of the treatment is to stimulate and restore the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being [source: British Acupuncture Council].

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