Acupuncture: Calling All Skeptics
By Lesley Johnsen, MAc, LAc, Dipl
Does it work? — That’s the first question I typically encounter when introducing myself as an acupuncturist. 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 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.
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.
Next question: 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.
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 too. 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
Acupuncture is a relatively low cost holistic treatment method that is noninvasive in nature, and extremely safe. It is a highly popular form of complementary health care. Symptoms are viewed in relationship to the totality of a person in order to explore the root cause of an illness or imbalance.
Traditional Five Element Acupuncture is a powerful system of medicine, one that has been practiced in China for over 3000 years. Acupuncture is also used by up to one third of the world's population as a primary health care system, and it is practiced in many nations including the United States.
This medicine addresses patients on the joined level of body, mind and spirit, and it has been proven to be effective on ailments from aches and pains to mental stress, physical and psychological addictions, and even more specific concerns from alleviating wrinkles on the face and bags under the eyes to relieving the impact of trauma.
How Acupuncture Works:
Acupuncture is a highly effective system of holistic medical care. It is based on natural laws that govern the movement of vital life force or energy. Our bodies are part of nature, and therefore this natural law applies to our bodies as well as to nature. This life force, or energy, called qi (pronounced ""chi""), moves through the bodies in specific pathways called meridians.
(The same "chi" is what martial artists seek to muster to give themselves extraordinary focus and strength.)
These meridians support the functions of the different organs in our bodies on all three levels of body, mind and spirit.
Imbalance or symptoms occur when the qi is not moving freely and evenly throughout the meridians in our bodies. These symptoms are viewed in relationship to the whole person in order to discover the root cause of a disease or illness.
The energy traveling in these meridians can be accessed through inserting hair-thin needles at certain points along these meridians. The action of the needle insertion restores and supports the natural flow of qi energy. This usually leads to the elimination of the presenting symptoms, in addition to a deep awakening and healing.
In particular, acupuncture has been recognized by the United States National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to be effective in the treatment of:
Addictions (alcohol, drug, smoking)
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome
Low back pain
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Urinary tract infections
Side effects of drugs, chemotherapy and radiation.