Many people living with the HIV Virus or AIDS turn to complementary and alternative therapies such as acupuncture treatments to get relief from symptoms, lessen medication side-effects, gain a whole-body health, and a sense of involvement in the positive effects of self-care. Acupuncture’s main purpose is to help provide the best quality of life for those seeking treatment while living with an incurable disease.
Acupuncture can provide a useful complement to the medication regimens prescribed by Western doctors which help slow the progression of the disease, and help with HIV management. The combination of several antiretroviral drugs can cause highly uncomfortable side effects, including nausea, diarrhea and digestive problems, and peripheral neuropathy, or the deterioration of the nervous system.
Acupuncture has been shown to help treat the symptoms of AIDS such as fatigue, insomnia, and night sweats and patients often report feeling stronger and less in pain. In addition to improving patients’ physiological symptoms, acupuncture can affect mood and provide a greater sense of overall well-being, which in turn can strengthen adherence to drug therapies, better managing the disease. Receiving regular acupuncture along with a treatment plan from a health care provider who specializes in AIDS can be integral to promoting immunity and health.
It has been proven that acupuncture helps the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relievers, as well as aids in the effectiveness of the brain chemical serotonin, guarding a patient from depression and anxiety. Acupuncture treatments for AIDS patients can provoke a greater sense of calm, which in turn can allow a patient to feel stronger and more empowered in their daily activities. The ability for many patients in one study to feel well enough to be effective at work impacted their stress related to financial concerns and gave a greater sense of purpose.
The aim of Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture is to treat the cause as well as the symptoms of any illness or dysfunction in the body. It does this by gathering and directing the healing energy that already exists in the body, or qi, building up and strengthening the energy systems; in so doing, the body’s ability to defend itself and thrive against harmful attackers is fortified. In contrast, Western Medicine treats the attacker, the virus itself, seeking ways to “kill the enemy”. Acupuncture and medical treatments can combine to form a worthy soldier in the fight against this incurable disease. An acupuncture treatment for an AIDS patient includes the placing of needles in the most powerful points of the TCM treatment formulary, focusing most acutely on the body’s ability to self-heal.
Traditional Chinese Herbal remedies designed specifically for each patient by a licensed acupuncturist have the effect of detoxifying, nourishing and strengthening the body between visits, making the most of the benefits of acupuncture. Many herbs have been shown to be safe and well-tolerated, and help patients decrease viral load and gain weight. It is important to discuss all treatment possibilities – medical, herbal and acupuncture – with any trained health care provider to avoid harmful drug interactions and side effects
Studies are consistently being done to understand AIDS/HIV and the specific ways acupuncture aids in relieving the impact of the disease. Western medicine accepts more and more the relevancy of acupuncture treatments for patients. Surprisingly, only one-third of the medical industry professionals who received sample acupuncture treatments at the International AIDS Conference in 2006 reported having received any acupuncture previously. It is possible as more industry professionals experience the healing benefits of acupuncture for themselves that scientific research will continue to examine and support acupuncture’s success as indispensable.