Acupuncture Straight-Talk

This blog is dedicated to curious minds; it's designed to give answers to all sorts of questions relating to acupuncture. It's for my patients, those who have never tried acupuncture, or others who thought about it but didn't because of lingering questions and concerns. I hope all my readers feel free to comment at the end, or email me through my Contact Link with questions or concerns so they can be addressed in future blogs. Never think a question is silly or dumb. There are no dumb, silly, or crazy questions in my world. Actually, if find it really smart – to ask.

There’s nothing like a good understanding before you do anything!

Many years ago, when I first began treating patients with acupuncture, many individuals asked me questions. Initially, I focused on the concept of acupuncture and answered questions using acupuncture terminology. Soon, I realized everyone else had not studied the same subject. My passion for acupuncture and the amazing results I witnessed over-shadowed an opportunity to educate. Therefore, I designed a survey to accumulate questions that I could answer in my blog. I hope to educate more people on acupuncture, and hopefully, quell some of those fears that prevent people from giving it a try and feeling their best.

After years of experience and becoming a little wiser, I now have a chance to straight talk on the subject. After-all, if I needed a plumber, I'd first have to research the Internet to find out what questions I should ask - tables turned!  All too often, we assume everyone knows everything about all things so inadvertently; we speak to others, as if they should know what we know. Tacky. This is why, I am now writing answers to questions in a blog to benefit anyone who may be interested in acupuncture but feel hesitant to try.  I'll also be writing about other sensitivity techniques that complement acupuncture. Here are four questions that came from my survey on acupuncture:

Does Acupuncture Have Side-Effects?

Side-effects associated with acupuncture are really quite different than thinking of side-effects associated with pharmaceutical drugs and cancer treatments. Risks of side-effects due to acupuncture are way lower then what we know as side-effects in modern medicine. As a matter of fact, acupuncture is often used along-side chemo-therapy to help reduce nausea and cancer pain. Actually, in this case, we could call acupuncture a remedy for side-effects. 

If you have a competent, certified acupuncturist who uses sterile needles, you're way safer than using most commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals. Common side effects from acupuncture can include soreness and minor bleeding or bruising where the needles were inserted, although it's not common. The risk of infection is minimal due to the use of sterile disposable needles. Sometimes, there are types of occurrences deemed as side-effects for those who don't understand acupuncture but in many cases; they are indicators that the treatment is working. Acupuncture is a personalized treatment as each individual responds in his/her own way.

Fatigue may be considered to some, a side-effect although in acupuncture, it's a good sign that your treatment is working. This is why, it's recommended that you have your treatment and then go home and rest avoiding alcohol, caffeine and exercise. Massage can actually enhance the benefits of acupuncture right after a treatment because it encourages calmness; particularly good for those who use acupuncture for muscle pain. So, you might want to treat yourself to a massage after acupuncture.

How's that for a side-effect?

Acupuncture also stimulates the energy flow in the body which stimulates toxic release and therefore, in some individuals, it can create symptoms related to detoxification which is also a good thing. If you choose acupuncture, you do have to put some kindness and time into yourself as well.

Sometimes, there may be soreness in an area where an acupuncture needle was inserted; it can feel sore after the needle is removed but in my experience, it's rare.  Soreness doesn't necessarily qualify as a side-effect as that can indicate progress as well.

How Does an Acupuncturist Know Where to Put Needles?

Chinese medicine has divided the body into sections referred to as meridians or channels that include groups of blood vessels, nerves and muscles which then relate to an associated group of acupuncture points. Once the channel or meridian associated with your painful area is identified, we select the meridian that will balance the sick one.  Then, we insert needles into the points associated with that meridian (acupoints). For example: pain in your shoulder and upper back is associated with the bladder meridian.  

Does acupuncture hurt?

A common question about acupuncture; does it hurt?  It might surprise you to learn that there is no pain but that doesn't mean no sensation, or a slight electrical feeling in some instances - which by the way - usually means an immediate lessening of pain from the condition you had when you sought acupuncture to help with it. The fear of pain is often the biggest reason people won't take a chance and try acupuncture. I think that fear comes from those shots we used to get right from infancy creating a fear of needles. But the needles used in acupuncture are nothing at all like getting a shot - they're hair-thin!

Acupuncture doesn't have to hurt although there's always going to be those very-sensitive-to-pain-people who might disagree.  I am also sensitive to pain and that's why I am overly careful about making sure my patients do not experience discomfort. After your first treatment, you'll feel much more confident when you see how gentle I can be. As a matter of fact, if you would like to come in and try just one needle, before you make an appointment, I'll make time to do that for you so you can get past the fear of pain and start healing in a gentle and relaxed manner with acupuncture.

What's the guarantee?

My first response to this question is "listen to your intuition." Asking for a guarantee from a health professional is like asking for a guarantee that a change of diet and lifestyle if and when needed can be guaranteed by a patient in order to help the body return to our God-given right to good health. It's impossible for anyone to guarantee one's health because we don't know what challenges another person might face that ends up putting them on their life's path. Somethings are divine and beyond our understanding.

We also can't forget that accountability for our healthfulness lies within ourselves, our diets, lifestyles and habits. For example, our environment contains GMO's that have been proven cause cancer. Yet people still consume the food that contains them,become sick, and go to a variety of health professionals for solutions. There are really no guarantees for our healthfulness while we are living on Earth -- except for a silent whisper we often ignore. Even with a written guarantee, things can go wrong.  So, do your homework about acupuncture and most importantly. meet your acupuncturist and then listen to your own intuition. I do. Because that's really our only guarantee!

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