with rapidly increasing popularity, acupuncture continues to be highly
misunderstood. The truth is that this ancient healing technique has been aiding
people overcome pain and other conditions for thousands of years. Here are the
most common myths and misconceptions about acupuncture answered, so you can
decide if you are ready to try it out and see what the (well deserved) hype is
Myth 1: Acupuncture is an unfounded folk medicine. No doctors believe in it.
Fact: Acupuncture has been around for over 3,000 years and came into Western medicine from Asia. In Asia, acupuncture is still as popular today as it was thousands of years ago. Because of this, there has been thousands of studies done on acupuncture throughout the world, making it one of the most studied therapeutic modalities ever. Findings have swayed Western medicine practitioners to use it as complementary treatment for many issues, and some doctors are even prescribing acupuncture to their patients before anything else.
For example, doctors in England, Germany, and Japan will refer patients to see acupuncturists for pain. Large hospitals, such as John Hopkins in the U.S. use acupuncture with patients routinely. The World Health Organization (WHO) also recognizes acupuncture has a valid treatment for a vast array of complications and conditions.
Myth 2: Acupuncture needles hurt.
Fact: False. In the hands of a trained and experienced acupuncturists, the needles are rarely even felt. The needles are nearly as thin as human hair, and the tips are shaped in such a way that rather than piercing the skin, they glide in gently. Once the needle has been inserted, you might feel an increase of heat around the needles or a tingling sensation, but neither of these are painful.
Myth 3: Acupuncture isn’t effective for pain. It’s just a placebo effect.
Fact: As mentioned in the first point, acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has been around for over 3,000 years. Since then, technology has gotten better at measuring just how effective it is. Now, the World Health Organization and governmental groups like the U.S. National Institute of Health are recommending acupuncture to complement treatment for things like neurological disorders, musculoskeletal pain, and even things like dental problems, nausea, vomiting, tennis elbow, and labor pain.
Clinical trails have proven time and again that acupuncture relieves trauma, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. There was a meta-analysis of 20 studies that found conclusive evidence that acupuncture is not only extremely effective in relieving depression, it actually performs better at alleviating depression symptoms than antidepressants and doesn’t cause suicidal thoughts.
Myth 4: Acupuncture has side effects.
Fact: The only side effect that some people have is slight muscular pain, but this is not debilitating. Acupuncture otherwise has few side effects. After a session, you are usually energized and ready to get on with your day.
Myth 5: If you don’t see or feel immediate results, acupuncture isn’t going to work for you.
Fact: Every acupuncturist will tell you at the beginning of the consultation that acupuncture depends on the individual. Your response is up to your body. That means that some people will feel an immediate change, usually within 2-3 sessions. However, some people are much slower to respond to acupuncture and may need 8-10 treatments to really feel the benefits. Believe in the acupuncturist and their assessment of how the therapy is working for you. Also, if you feel that one technique isn’t working for you, then you have every right to ask the acupuncturist to try something else.
There you have it: 5 myths about acupuncture. These myths are completely backwards, as you now know. There’s nothing to fear when it comes to going under these needles—just relieve and relaxation.