Acupuncture is one tool out of many utilized by Chinese medicine practitioner to bring a patients’ body back to its best and ultimate function. Often times there is a lot of confusion about what is acupuncture exactly, what can it help with, how it’s preformed and other wrong preconceived notions about it. In this article I’ll try to shed some light on this topic.
Mistake # 1 People don’t want to get acupuncture because it hurts and they are afraid of the needles;
Although acupuncture is by definition requiring the insertion of needles, referring to those tiny needles in the same name as needles that are used to draw blood and so on is a very misleading factor. The acupuncture needles are so small and thin, they are flexible. The insertion of the needle is typically not painful at all and barely felt under the execution of a skillful practitioner. There are over 400 acupuncture points in the body, if a patient is uncomfortable with the needles at first, it is always possible to use points that are not as sensitive. Some points are slightly uncomfortable at the moment of insertion (mostly points located at the toes or fingers) but the sensation from the needle passes within couple of seconds and the feeling of relaxation and overall benefit of the treatment outweighs all the initial discomfort. Furthermore, Chinese medicine has many tools such as Moxibustion, herbal medicine, cupping, Gua sha, Tuina, Shiatsu, nutrition, Qi Gong and lifestyle changes all of which can be used if the needles are completely out of the question.
Mistake # 2 The needles are going to be inserted in the site of pain;
When Chinese medicine is practiced in holistic way, the acupuncturist will not necessarily place the needles in the site of injury or pain. In Chinese medicine there are 2 terms – “Ben & Biao”. “Ben” is the root, the cause of the disease, or the pain. “Biao” is the manifestation, the pain itself, the inflammation in a specific joint for an example. With Chinese medicine, the goal is to treat the ROOT cause and not so much to focus on the symptom. In Chinese medicine, in order to treat the sick, there is a need to use the healthy, if an individual is suffering from tendinitis of the right elbow, it means something is unhealthy and presenting itself in this elbow, trying to “fix” it with the sick elbow is opposing the philosophy behind Chinese medicine. It is okay at times to insert the needles in the site of injury to promote better energy movement (or oxygen and blood flow) but not as a system of practice.
Mistake # 3 The acupuncturist is going to place a lot of needles on your back and all over the body;
This is farthest from the truth, there are many branches to acupuncture and many practitioners with completely different approach. Even though many practitioners do use significant number of needles in each treatment (10 and more), in Classic Chinese medicine the mindset of the practitioner is “less is more”. When treating the problem from the root and with the understanding that each point does many things the practitioner try to focus the treatment and choose just the right points to make the proper change in the body. It is possible to compare it to trying to shoot an arrow on a target, if one is precisely in the center, there is no need for anymore. On top of it, the actual number of needles is important since in Chinese medicine, every number echoes a different vibration. For an example, I usually use between 1 to 5 needles per treatment.
Mistake # 4 You need to believe it in order for it to work;
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are science based art. Chinese medicine is based on a theory that is driven from the understanding of cosmologic changes and astronomic phenomena. It is a theory that is based on thousands of years of observations at nature and the human body corresponding to it. It is true, that just like any form of medicine, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are limited and sometimes the progression of a disease is too great for things to be mended, but when addressed in the proper time and manner, acupuncture can be very effective for variety of health problems. From headache, migraines or joint pain to gynecological or respiratory issues, to more of a chemical based symptoms and disturbance such as insomnia, depression and anxiety, acupuncture can be so helpful at times that it seems like magic.
Mistake # 5 everything is okay with me so I don’t need to get acupuncture;
What considered to be “okay” in our mind is based on perception, the majority of patient I see over 45 years old, had at least one major surgery that was needed because of dysfunction of a joint or and organ and are taking daily medication to get their blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar level or hormones under control. This is not the definition of healthy by any means and it is time people understood that. You deserve a better quality of life and if things are addressed on time, they might be prevented. You don’t need to wait until all hell breaks loose, little symptoms like not sleeping well, unsettled digestive system, crappy mood and body discomforts and pain of all sort can be enough of a sign for you to know you should go and get a holistic treatment. Preventive medicine is the best medicine and Chinese medicine is exactly about that!
Chinese medicine is a holistic and preventive medicine, it works with the body and relies on the bodies’ ability to heal itself (yes, it can, just like you heal when you get cut). It is not one size fits all, every person responds different, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and the ability of every individual to heal is depending on many factors such as constitution, genetic background and family health history, their own health history as well as their life style and more. When it comes to Chinese medicine, two people with seemingly the same health issue will respond completely different to the treatment and will also need a different treatment. I hope I was able to shed some light on this misunderstood form of medicine and will try to keep sharing as much information as I can with everyone. Blessing to all
Dipl. Ac., LMBT.
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