Acupuncture True or False

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Acupuncture is becoming more and more mainstream, but many people have questions and concerns before they are ready to start treatment. Some people are unclear about the benefits, and some have false preconceptions. so let’s separate some of the fact from the fiction:

True or False

1. Acupuncture hurts -- False
While the experience will be different for everyone, acupuncture usually does not cause discomfort or pain. Acupuncture needles are the width of a human hair -- 1/40th the size of a hypodermic needle, and most of the time you do not even feel them go in. Once a needle reaches its intended depth, you're likely to feel a mild, dull ache or a slight tingling sensation. Occasionally stronger needling is called but the feeling is not unpleasant, and there is often a sense of relief. Most people begin to relax as soon as the first needle is inserted!

2. Acupuncture can prevent illness -- True
Chinese medicine views the immune system as an “invisible shield” of energy that runs just below your skin called Wei Qi. Acupuncture supports the wei qi, protecting against infections and environmental factors. Studies show that acupuncture increases the number of white blood cells which destroy bacteria and viruses. In addition, stress directly impacts immunity, and acupuncture alleviates stress. If you are treating stress you are also treating Immunity.

3. Acupuncture can help you sleep -- True
In Chinese medicine, we view insomnia as a “spirit that is not rooted”. Acupuncture -- and points along the heart meridian in particular -- can ground the spirit and improve sleep. Acupuncture increases the production of neurotransmitters associated with relaxation, and in a study of almost 4,000 patients, acupuncture increased sleep duration better than medications.

4. If you don’t see results in one session Acupuncture is not working -- False
Acupuncture is not a “one and done” type of treatment. It is cumulative, and treats the whole individual -- mind, body and spirit. It often takes a few sessions to unravel the layers. Most illnesses occur gradually over time. Acupuncture can get to the root of the issue, but it also takes time. Generally you should start to feel better after 3-4 sessions, with better results the longer you continue treatment.

5. Acupuncture can alleviate anxiety -- True
There is a growing body of evidence that supports the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of anxiety. One promising study from 2015, for example, found that acupuncture improved symptoms in people with anxiety that didn’t respond to other treatments, including psychotherapy and medication. Participants received ten 30-minute sessions of acupuncture over the course of 12 weeks. They experienced a significant reduction in their anxiety, even 10 weeks after treatment.

6. Acupuncturists are not well trained -- False
An acupuncture degree requires a Master’s degree -- that means 3-4 years AFTER undergrad (so 7-8 years total)..That’s pretty much equivalent to med school. The curriculum covers eastern medicine and western biology, including anatomy, physiology, neurology, pathology, and hundreds of hours hands on clinic experience. In addition, many acupuncturists are taking an extra year and getting their doctorates, so they are literally doctors. Acupuncturists are well trained.

7. Acupuncture can alleviate cramps -- True
In chinese medicine we see period pain as stuck Liver Qi. Strong needling at Liver 3 and the points in the sacral foramen immediately “soothe” liver qi, and alleviate muscle cramps. In addition, acupuncture balances hormones, moves and builds blood, and alleviates stress -- all issue that can create period complications.

If you are not quite ready for needles try these acupressure points

8. Acupuncture is not covered by insurance -- False
More and more health insurance policies are offering coverage for acupuncture. Each plan varies, and the most common issue covered is pain management. The proven efficacy and cost efficiency (acupuncture is less expensive than back surgery!) has motivated insurance companies to offer more. Check your policy, or have your acupuncturist check for you.

LouLou Piscatore