Best of Chinese Medicine Blog: Debunking Myths and Misconceptions of Acupuncture

Here's a series of short questions & answers to help you navigate around and across all the things you hear everyday about acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and alternative therapies. There is so much we think we know, but then...

1. Does acupuncture hurt?

The idea of someone sticking more needles in you than they have to sounds alarmingly uncomfortable at first but this is not the case with acupunctures. When receiving acupuncture you can expect to feel a light prick at first but these needles are thin as whiskers so it’s nothing like getting a shot or giving blood. The sensation that follows is known in acupunctural terms as activating your Qi (pronounced chee). Acupuncture is an ancient healing art so the strange sensation you may feel is acupuncture stimulating your Qi to help you heal. But it really doesn’t hurt.


2. Isn’t acupuncture just superstition?

Absolutely not. In fact acupuncture is widely recognized in the medical field as a reliable way to treat a variety of conditions. Acupuncture research is continually being funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and is recognized by the NIH and World health organization as being very beneficial to patients suffering from chronic pain, stress and other conditions. Don’t dismiss it just on hearsay alone there is a lot of science to back it up.


3. Aren’t most people who get acupuncture new age hippies?

Hardly, acupuncture is widely used by all kinds of different people because it is very effective way to treat such a diverse assortment of conditions. Acupuncture specialists are trained to activate Qi differently depending on the condition by using specific acupuncture points around the body. Acupuncture is commonly used in sports medicine after serious injury and also as an adjunct to medication for cancer patients undergoing chemo. 


4. So acupuncture doesn’t conflict with medication?

Acupuncture is a safe and natural way to remedy many of our bodies problems and in some cases is more effective than prescription drugs but is also a powerful adjunctive to other medications. In one study on patients with recurring migraines, subjects that had acupuncture as well as their medication had half as many migraines as the subjects who only took their medication. 


5. Isn’t acupuncture only for relieving pain?

Not at all. While acupuncture is one of the safest and most effective ways to relieve pain it is also useful for a variety of other ailments. Acupuncture is actually a clinically proven way to alleviate chronic stress as well as nausea and vomiting. It has been tested and shown highly beneficial effects for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and also has been known to help alleviate seasonal allergies.


6. Are there any side effects to Acupuncture? 

Acupuncture has very few, if any, side effects and is easy to fit into your everyday life. Getting acupuncture won’t mean you have to take time off work to recover and can lead to higher productivity as it reduces stress levels. Because there are no chemical medications involved you don’t need to worry about the side effects commonly associated with prescription medication. 


7. Does it only work if you keep getting acupuncture?

Not at all. Often the effects of a few good sessions can last for months after you’ve stopped going. Most modern studies into acupuncture actually test the subject’s condition several months after the treatment and consistently find that the effects of acupuncture stay with them for a while. For chronic problems however, patients often continue to keep a regular schedule because acupuncture continues to help.  


8. If it doesn’t work immediately will it not work at all?

People respond to acupuncture differently. Some respond after just a couple of visits and some respond after several but you must remember that acupuncture is cumulative. Every visit helps and the more you continue to go the stronger the healing effects. 

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