Today, acupuncture is one of the most well known forms of complementary healthcare.
It’s referred to as “complementary”, or “alternative”, because it exists outside of the realm of traditional healthcare, and works as a complement to it.
And unfortunately, that in and of itself is enough to turn some people away from acupuncture as a practice.
Nonetheless, acupuncture is widely gaining credibility across North America and beyond.
Even those who haven’t experienced a treatment themselves usually know someone who has or have at least heard about it.
But awareness is only the first step.
As a Streetsville naturopathic doctor who practices acupuncture, I’ve seen my share of misconceptions about acupuncture treatment.
These misconceptions are understandable to someone who’s never experienced acupuncture before or who has been fed only misinformation about it.
With this article, I hope to dispel some of these myths and talk about how acupuncture can help you in a variety of ways.
RELATED: What Is Acupuncture Used For?
Without further ado, let’s get to work at dispelling some myths.
MYTH 1: Acupuncture Isn’t Real Medicine
Like we previously mentioned, acupuncture is considered an alternative medicine.
However, it’s been practiced for thousands of years.
Acupuncture began as a form of folk medicine in China approximately 3000 years ago.
The earliest record of acupuncture being used as a medical treatment can be found in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine which was likely written around 300 BCE.
As a result, some believe it’s based more around superstition than actual science, or that it’s no more effective than a placebo.
What’s The Truth?
Nonetheless, there’s a large body of work that does support many of the claims made about acupuncture and its practice.
A search on the US National Library of Medicine, a database of scientific studies published in peer reviewed journals, delivers more than 1200 results for the search term “benefits of acupuncture”.
The research points to acupuncture’s benefits, or potential benefits, in treating a variety of conditions, including:
- Gynecological surgery recovery
- Stroke recovery
- Chronic pain relief for patients in palliative care
- Diabetic gastroparesis treatment
- And much more
While the jury is still out on some of the benefits of acupuncture, it’s clear based on the scientific literature that there’s more to it than just superstition.
MYTH 2: Acupuncture Is Painful
Many people are squeamish of needles.
Maybe you’ve gotten a particularly painful tattoo, or you remember getting stung by needles administering your boosters as a child.
Whatever the reason, many people mistakenly believe that acupuncture needles will cause the same pain as tattoo or medical needles.
Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
What’s The Truth?
You can be forgiven for thinking that acupuncture is painful.
After all, we’re stabbing you with a bunch of needles all over your body, right?
First of all, acupuncture needles are very small and fine.
Just a little bit thicker than a strand of hair, actually.
And they aren’t inserted all the way into your body either, just enough to hold them in place.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, only a very small amount pain is common with acupuncture.
Some people report mild discomfort, like a dull ache, around the point of insertion, which generally either fades on its own or eases as your acupuncturist manipulates and adjusts the needles.
It also doesn’t cause any serious or long lasting side effects.
In rare cases, side effects may include fatigue, soreness, and lightheadedness.
These side effects are rare, and almost always clear up in a day or two.
But in general, acupuncture is not considered a painful form of treatment.
MYTH 3: Acupuncture Is Just A Band Aid Treatment
Because of its reputation as a treatment to help relieve pain, it’s a common belief that acupuncture simply deals with the symptoms of an illness, rather than addressing the root cause.
In modern Western medicine, the preference for chronic pain management is treatment of the underlying cause as opposed to using medications to cover the pain.
It’s easy to understand why this is the case.
Pain medications come with a host of often dangerous side effects, such as kidney damage, and can be highly addictive.
What’s more, they don’t actually address whatever is causing your pain to begin with.
However, acupuncture is nothing like traditional pain medications.
What’s The Truth?
The truth is that acupuncture is designed to help facilitate the body’s own ability to heal itself.
The acupuncture needles stimulate your body to release endorphins.
This can help you manage pain and stress.
When the body’s ability to heal itself is promoted, it may make certain conditions easier to manage overall.
So, acupuncture is designed to help you deal with your health concerns permanently.
MYTH 4: Once You Receive Acupuncture, You’ll Always Need To Get It
These days, there’s no shortage of health fads guaranteeing you some sort of attractive health benefit, such as weight loss.
The problem is many of these gimmicks require you to continue purchasing the product to see long lasting benefits.
Unfortunately, some people mistakenly believe that acupuncture is just another health fad looking to get you hooked on a product.
But this just isn’t true.
What’s The Truth?
Like any type of healthcare treatment, the number of acupuncture treatments you need depend dramatically on your own health history, your unique health concerns, the severity of your condition, and much more.
While some patients report relief after the first session, others require more treatments in order to get the results they were hoping for.
However, if you don’t see the results you were hoping for with your first treatment, don’t give up.
Your acupuncture practitioner will help you make an informed decision about the effectiveness of your treatment plan.
MYTH 5: Acupuncture Can’t Be Used In Combination With Other Treatments
When it comes to medications, following the warning labels and asking your healthcare provider before mixing drugs is of the utmost importance.
Therefore, it’s only reasonable to think the same of all medical treatments, including acupuncture.
What’s The Truth?
Acupuncture is considered to be a safe, low risk treatment.
In general, there is no conflict between acupuncture and other forms of health care treatment, and can be used in conjunction with many other treatments, including chiropractic, massage therapy, reiki, and alongside most pharmaceutical drugs.
However, if you’re taking blood thinners, have a bleeding disorder, or are undergoing other health care treatments, though, make sure to talk with me, Dr. Maria, first.
From there, we’ll look at all the information and come to an informed decision as to whether acupuncture is right for you.
Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today
Are you interested in discovering more about acupuncture?
Curious as to whether it’s right for you?
If so, contact me, Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, ND, at the Mindful Healing Clinic in Streetsville, Mississauga.
Book a consultation today, during which I’ll sit down with you, listen to your concerns, answer any questions you may have, and from there we can put together a treatment plan to address your health concerns.
Book your appointment with The Mindful Healing Clinic today and get started on transforming your health naturally.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.