Frequently Asked Questions about acupuncture
Acupuncture is the traditional Chinese medical practice of stimulating specific points on the body (along meridians) with ultra-fine needles which penetrate the skin.
What does acupuncture actually do?
The procedure is applied to alleviate pain and to treat a variety of health conditions. It is believed that the needles stimulate neurohormonal pathways and increase the production of the body’s natural painkillers called endorphins.
Recognized as an effective treatment for chronic pain, acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years. A study undertaken in 2012 found that acupuncture was better than no acupuncture or simulated acupuncture for the treatment of four chronic pain conditions: chronic headache, shoulder pain, back pain, and joint pain.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that disease is caused when there is a disruption in the body’s energy flow or Qi. By applying acupuncture to specific points that correspond to organs, the flow of Qi is improved, and in turn, health is restored. Science believes that acupuncture works by stimulating the body’s natural endorphins – the “feel good” hormones.
Is acupuncture effective?
A certified acupuncturist has the training and experience to ensure that treatments cause no harm to the patient. A dull ache, bruising, or soreness – even minor bleeding – can follow an acupuncture treatment.
Can acupuncture harm you?
The use of sterile needles is important, as is an initial examination to determine if the patient is at risk because of a bleeding disorder, a pacemaker, or pregnancy.
Among the many benefits accorded acupuncture, are improved sleep (for those suffering from insomnia), and improved gastrointestinal health and comfort. Acupuncture is of great help to those in need of a better regulated digestive system.
What are the benefits of acupuncture?
Mild bleeding or bruising are common side effect in the areas where needles are inserted.
What are the side effects of acupuncture?
The risk of infection is minimal because disposable, single-use needles are the industry’s standard best practice; however some people are not good candidates for acupuncture.
An interview and examination will help your practitioner determine if acupuncture is right for you.
While there is no scientific proof that the meridians or acupuncture points exist it is hard to prove that they don’t.
Is acupuncture a placebo?
Many studies support that acupuncture works for hundreds of conditions.
And acupuncture treatments work on animals, as well as on infants and children – beings not influenced by psychology or placebos.
In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture helps to balance the body’s flow of energy, or Qi, the energy that has been disrupted by disease.
How does an acupuncture work?
Needles inserted along the body’s meridians stimulate the flow of Qi and help cure the disease.
Modern science hypothesizes that acupuncture stimulates nerves along neurohormonal pathways.
Neuroscientist Dr. Nakita Burke explains acupuncture this way, ” Since the 1950s, scientific research has shown acupuncture’s effects on the peripheral nervous system, endocrine and immune systems, cardiovascular system, and digestive system.
By stimulating the body’s various systems, acupuncture can help to relieve pain and promote healing.
For example, endorphins, the body’s own morphine-like chemicals, are released when needles penetrate the skin. Another chemical involved in pain control, adenosine, is released in the skin during acupuncture.”2
Can you die from acupuncture?
The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine cites some details behind acupuncture related mortality, stipulating that fatalities were anecdotally documented in rural China where treatment was administered by practitioners with less education and experience.
The Journal adds that no deaths from acupuncture were recorded in the UK where the procedure is widely practiced.
The Journal article concludes by saying, ” deaths after acupuncture may be rare, but they do occur. The best way to minimize the risk is to make sure that all acupuncturists are well-trained – not just in acupuncture technique but also in recognizing serious adverse events and initiating life-saving measures.”3
Can acupuncture be bad for you?
The risks of acupuncture are low if you have a competent, registered acupuncture practitioner using sterile needles.
Common side effects include soreness and minor bleeding or bruising where the needles were inserted. Not everyone is a good candidate for acupuncture.