Acupuncture: 5 Myths and Reality
As I’ve got older and, hopefully, a little bit wiser, I’ve come to realise that often the old ways are the best ways.
That doesn’t mean I don’t like to see change where change is needed – I prefer my tumble dryer to a mangle and I suspect the streets would be a bit more daunting if they were still lit by carriage lamps.
But sometimes it feels to me like we’re part of a society that’s always looking for the newest, brightest, funkiest, coolest, most unique thing to replace the last new, bright, funky, cool, unique thing that we invented just last week.
Take the iPhone 6, Who thinks that still feels pretty new? Me, too. I rest my case.
There are things that endure though, and bring familiarity to a world neon-lit by the latest and greatest things that promise to make our day-to-day lives easier and more fun. And I think they endure because no one has yet come up with something to replace them.
Acupuncture is a bit like that, I think.
The fact it’s been with us for more than 2,000 years should be pretty persuasive proof that it’s an effective treatment for an enormous range of physical and emotional conditions. Because if it wasn’t, I think a society that has managed to invent a driverless car would probably have come up with a better answer by now.
Some people, though, take a bit of persuading that old can still be best, and the common myths about acupuncture still do the rounds. And that’s sad, really, because I know from personal experience that it’s an amazing treatment that for many people can be the difference between a life in pain, discomfort or distress and a life free of it.
In fact, that’s why I’ve dedicated my life to using acupuncture to help others.
If you’re considering acupuncture, or you’ve considered it in the past and you’ve been put off by what you might have read or heard, then I hope this article will put your mind at ease and convince you to get in touch with me and let me show you the difference it can make to your life.
Myth #1: If you’re sticking needles into people, acupuncture must be painful
Ah, yes. The most popular myth of them all. Usually I hear this from people who have never experienced acupuncture or from people who are scared of needles – and it’s only a little bit ironic that acupuncture can help to cure that!
The truth is that acupuncture isn’t painful at all. In fact, when it’s administered by a qualified, trained and experienced professional, acupuncture shouldn’t cause any discomfort at all.
It surprises a lot of people who have preconceptions about acupuncture when they discover that a great many patients actually find the treatment they receive to be highly relaxing. The needles we use are thin (imagine the width of a cat’s whisker) and the sensation most people feel is a slight heaviness, which happens when the needle makes contact with the ‘vital life force’ which we refer to as Qi (pronounced chee). This sensation fades within a few minutes.
Myth #2: Acupuncture is for hippies
For a therapy that has been around since the beginning of time as we know it, it’s amazing there are still people who think it’s a child of New Ageism.
Acupuncture is used far more commonly than most people think, and you certainly don’t need an Afghan coat or a secret supply of josticks to qualify for it. In fact, research by the British Acupuncture Council estimates that around 3 million people in the UK are treated with acupuncture each year.
So, when you think about it, one person in every 20 you know will already have experienced acupuncture.
Myth #3: Acupuncture isn’t recognised by clinical medical practitioners and can inhibit medication
One of the worries I have as an acupuncturist is that there are people today who live their lives in pain, discomfort or fear because they’ve come to believe that the conventional medical world has rejected acupuncture therapy as a legitimate complementary treatment.
Acupuncture is widely recognised, supported and actively encouraged by doctors, consultants, physical therapists, mental health professionals and other clinicians. Used in conjunction with more traditional health strategies, acupuncture has been shown to enhance the effectiveness of treatment and accelerate recovery.
There is no evidence, anywhere in the world, to suggest that acupuncture has any adverse effect on drug treatments. In fact, almost all studies into the relationship between acupuncture and ‘conventional’ medicine show positive benefits to using acupuncture in a complementary approach.
Myth #4: Acupuncture is more about pop psychology – it doesn’t really work
There’s no question that the mind is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to healing and recovery, but there are too many research projects and academic studies that show a clear positive relationship between acupuncture and recovery for someone’s state of mind to take all the credit for what acupuncture achieves.
In some ways, all recovery is affected by your mental attitude. You need to believe you’re going to get better in order to get better, and the reverse is also true. How many of us, for example, have wallowed in the pity of a heavy cold and made ourselves feel even worse?
But the mind can’t always carry the burden of healing on its own. It needs a bit of help. Sometimes that’s through drugs, sometimes through alternative medicine. And sometimes it’s a mixture of the two.
Myth #5: Once you have acupuncture, you’ll always need it
It’s true that some people return for treatment on a regular basis. By and large, these are patients who have chronic conditions that are relieved by acupuncture but which cannot be totally cured. Other people enjoy acupuncture and the sense of balanced inner energy it brings.
But for the most part, acupuncturists take pride in helping their patients to recover permanently from whatever condition brought them into the clinic in the first place, so they don’t need to return. I know that’s what I hope to achieve for all the people who are in my care.
And in the end, whether you come back for further treatment is up to you. Everyone is different, and some people take longer than others to experience the benefits acupuncture can bring. But if you do come back, it’s likely to be because the treatment is working – not because your therapist ordered you to!
Acupuncture is an amazing, time-tested option for people who want to make informed and open choices about their treatment. If you’d like to find out more about its benefits and have more of your questions answered, why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you.
And if you know someone who’s considering acupuncture but has been put off by some of the things they’ve read, why not share this article with them and let them form their own opinion of it?