Myths about Acupuncture
By Melissa Lo L.Ac., M.S.O.M.
Owner of Origin Natural Care
Below are some of the most common questions I have been asked while in practice. I have had the opportunity to see hundreds of patients, and the same questions still pop up. It is our job to help dispel some of these myths and give our future patients the information to make an educated decision on their treatments.
Myth: Acupuncture hurts and can be painful.
Truth: Acupuncture is the use of fine needles to stimulate specific areas of the body. The needles are very fine, much like a strand of hair. You will feel an initial break in the skin, however after this most patients feel a mild tender sensation. This sensation is the stimulation of “Qi” or energy at this acupuncture point. When the “Qi” is stimulated, one may feel a slight tingling movement, dull ache, or even a warming of location.
Myth: Massage is just for relaxation.
Truth: There are many various techniques when it comes to massage. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, like acupuncturists are trained is a special type of massage. This is called Tui-Na. Depending on the practitioner’s skill level and training, they may have a specific style that can be used to treat a wide range of therapies. This is a great alternative modality to treat patients who may be nervous about needle therapy, and is also widely used on your children.
Myth: An acupuncturists is not a real doctor.
Truth: What is a “real doctor”? In the U.S., a “real doctor” is considered a physician who has a M.D. (Medical Degree). However, an acupuncturist is a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioner. We are still considered a primary care practitioner, though our license reads as a L.Ac., or Licensed Acupuncturist. As a L.Ac., we can treat many of the same ailments and injuries as a M.D. without using drugs or surgery. Instead we use holistic therapies, like herbs, nutrition, exercise, and acupuncture. Acupuncturists can also successfully treat cases that M.D. may not have been able to resolve through Western diagnosis.
Myth: Acupuncture doesn’t work.
Truth: Acupuncture is a non-invasive, natural modality of treatment. As such, it requires some time to deal with different types of issues. The body needs time to stimulate its natural healing mechanism, and is not a one time quick fix treatment. People who have “tried acupuncture” and had no results also tend to have had not the best treatment. Sometimes a change in practitioner, or treatment style can also improve results.
Myth: There are only a few things acupuncture can help treat, specifically pain.
Truth: Pain management is one of the most commonly treated conditions. This does not mean it is the only thing that acupuncture can treat. Unfortunately this myth is due to the fact that the public is not educated on how many different disorders acupuncture can actually benefit. This medicine has been around for thousands of years, and has been used to treat a wide range of disorders including, pain, digestive problems, emotional stress, gynecological and fertility conditions, and has been used to even treat patients with auto-immune disorders and those going through the effects of chemotherapy. Getting a consultation would be the best way of finding out if your condition can be treated through acupuncture.
Myth: Herbal therapy is dangerous and can conflict with Western medicine drugs.
Truth: Chinese herbals are a whole other avenue practitioners have to be educated and trained in. Many of our herbs are actually food based items, and used in our staple diet. Chinese herbs can be taken in pill, powder, and decoction form. Much like with any pharmaceutical drugs, herbs can have an interaction with Western medication. Your licensed practitioner has training and knowledge of drug and herbal interactions.
Myth: If you get acupuncture, don’t tell your doctor (M.D.)
Truth: Much like with any condition or situation, you should let your M.D. know that you are adding in acupuncture into your treatments. Telling your M.D., would only help assist with treating you for your condition. Fortunately, more M.D.’s are happy to integrate holistic therapies including acupuncture into your protocal. However, be prepared that some are still very pro-Western and will see acupuncture as a placebo therapy.
Myth: My doctor told me to stop acupuncture, not get acupuncture, or that it doesn’t work.
Truth: It is important to see where the recommendation is coming from. M.D.’s do not specialize in acupuncture, and are not educated in this practice. This does not mean M.D.’s are not qualified practitioners, they are. However, they are qualified in their OWN field. Acupuncture and its theory is a well versed practice that requires many years of education and case study.
Myth: My M.D. can practice acupuncture so they must be more qualified than a L.Ac.
Truth: It is much easier for a M.D. to add in acupuncture to their list of treatments that can provide. The requirements are less than half of a L.Ac. requirements to practice. Would you want to be treated by a practitioner who had limited on hands on practice time, and was not required to have the same amount of course and case work as a practitioner who was trained and educated fully in this modality? It would be prudent to consider getting treatment and information regarding acupuncture from a licensed acupuncturist who has the knowledge and the background to treat your condition.
Myth: Acupuncture is used when you have a problem.
Truth: Traditional Chinese Medicine, herbs, Tui-Na, and acupuncture are great modalities to integrate into your lifestyle. Acupuncture especially is a holistic treatment that is great for preventative care. This means that we can treat patients by boosting their immunity, improving circulation, maintaining one’s health, and support their bodies through acupuncture. It is not a treatment that requires you to “have a problem” to get acupuncture.