Does acupuncture really work?
In other cultures, acupuncture is the primary health care system, and more of a last resort in the United States. But this is quickly changing here in Phoenix as more and more people look to alternative and complementary methods to gain relief from physical, mental and emotional complaints. Let’s take a few minutes to review (and debunk) a few myths surrounding this ancient medicine.
I’m afraid of needles so I can’t receive acupuncture.
Now, this is a fair statement. If acupuncture included needles the size you find in hospitals, even I wouldn’t receive treatment. The truth:
Acupuncture needles (sterile, single-use and disposable) are about the width of a hair and designed to go between the cells of the skin. Made of a thin, flexible stainless steel, the tip is shaped to increase the client’s comfort during treatment. Some are even coated with silicone to ease insertion even more.
Does it hurt?
The answer is yes and no. The sensation of a needle going into the skin may feel like a mosquito bite or a small pinch. Sometimes there is a sensation of tingling, warmth, coolness or heaviness both at the site of insertion as well as radiating out from the point as the Qi (energy) travels throughout one’s body. Many styles of traditional acupuncture consider the Qi sensation a prerequisite to effective treatment, although not everyone senses this feeling on every point.
There’s nothing wrong with me, so why would I get acupuncture?
I’ve met people who are interested in acupuncture but believe they aren’t good candidates because they aren’t in pain. Acupuncture treatment is an excellent way to address pain, and is the primary reason people here in the West seek out this particular treatment.
However, Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete medical model, treating symptoms (in addition to pain) related to the immune system, woman’s health issues, mental health concerns, digestive disturbances, anxiety, insomnia, migraines and so on. Many symptoms may be common, but that doesn’t mean they are normal. Premenstrual agitation, not being able to fall or stay asleep, or frequent headaches, for example, are conditions with which we learn to live. From a Chinese medical perspective, we really don’t have to.
East can’t meet West.
This isn’t true. Acupuncture can augment and assist with most, if not all, treatment modalities—Eastern and Western. In fact, more and more scientific and clinical studies prove the benefits of acupuncture. Many people find they can reduce the amount of medication, improve immunity, reduce pain, and gain greater ease in their bodies. It is important to remember, however, not to make any adjustments to your medication or treatment regimen without first discussing it with your medical doctor.
Does acupuncture work even if I don’t believe in it?
YES! Animals don’t believe in acupuncture and receive great benefits—patients in comas have been shown to respond to acupuncture treatment as well. Even court-ordered addicts get clean with acupuncture, despite a skeptical attitude. What really matters are the results you experience and observe in your body. That’s true proof. Do you have to believe? No. You just need to be willing to give it a try.