The Myths Surrounding Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the world’s oldest forms of healthcare. Although it has been around for thousands of years and helped billions more, the practice tends to be surrounded by myths and misconceptions that prevent many who could benefit from it the most, from ever seeking treatment.

Below, we’ve excerpted some of the most common of these myths, debunked, from a recent article published by a Cleveland academic medical center. If you’re short on time though, these are the most important facts you need to know about this historic, healing practice:

Receiving acupuncture on a regular basis can help ease pain, and treat acute and chronic physical, emotional, and psychological conditions

Acupuncture treats the whole person – not just the present symptom, but the underlying issue as well

Most people who receive acupuncture report feeling calmer, sleeping more soundly, feeling less stressed, and experiencing better health overall

At Sanctuary, we promise a treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and goals, and will work with you to achieve these results

Any of this prick your ears up?

Myth 1: Acupuncture hurts — after all, we’re talking needles
Fact: Although we use needles, they are very slender and fine (about the size of a cat whisker). You may or may not feel an initial prick, sometimes described as a mosquito bite. Any discomfort will either fade on its own or ease up as your acupuncturist adjusts the needles. You should experience a Qi (pronounced “chee”) sensation, often described as heaviness, throbbing or an electrical sensation. That’s your body’s healing energy doing its work

Myth 2: Acupuncture is ancient folk medicine; no legitimate healthcare professional would recommend it
Fact: Acupuncture is a treatment option that many medical institutions recommend. Even the United States military uses acupuncture. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds many clinical research trials on acupuncture. Both the NIH and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize acupuncture as a valid treatment for a wide range of conditions.

Myth 3: Most people who use, or practice, acupuncture are into ‘New Age’ healing
Fact: On the contrary, you probably have a friend, coworker or neighbor who receives acupuncture treatments.

Myth 4: Acupuncture may conflict with medication, physical therapy and other ‘mainstream’ conventional medical treatments
Fact: There is no conflict between acupuncture and conventional medicine; they complement one another. Acupuncture works nicely as an adjunct to your conventional treatment plan.

Myth 5: Acupuncture is only useful in treating pain
Fact: It’s true that acupuncture helps relieve joint pain, including knee pain; back pain; headache; stomach pain and menstrual cramps. However, acupuncture is also used to treat nausea/vomiting, chemotherapy side effects, morning sickness, hypertension (high blood pressure), allergies, depression, infertility and other conditions.

Myth 6: Acupuncture has a lot of side effects and you’ll need time off work
Fact: Acupuncture has few to no side effects. After your acupuncture session, you can usually carry on with your day without any restrictions.

Myth 7: Acupuncture’s effects are psychological. It doesn’t really do anything
Fact: Acupuncture and its effects are far from psychological. Studies show that during acupuncture, our brains begin to release chemicals such as endorphins (natural painkillers) Acupuncture also has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps people’s immune system.

Myth 8: Once you start acupuncture, you’ll always need acupuncture
Fact: For most conditions, acupuncturists strive to improve your main problem so you do not have to return for more treatment. For chronic conditions, some people stay on a maintenance schedule, however, such as returning once a month, because acupuncture continues to help.

Myth 9: If you do not see results in one or two treatments, then you’re unlikely to benefit from acupuncture
Fact: The response to acupuncture is always an individual one. Some people respond quickly — within one, two or three treatments. Others need a full course of eight to 10 treatments. Acupuncture’s effects are cumulative, building with each treatment, so the acupuncturist will assess its effects after you complete a full series of treatments. Acupuncturists use a variety of styles and techniques, so if you do not see results with one clinician, seek out another acupuncturist.

Myths excerpted from “Needles? Ouch! And 9 Other Acupuncture Myths” (April 17, 2014) by Jamie Starkey, LAc, Lead Acupuncturist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Cleveland Clinic Health Hub