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Years ago I watched Kiiko Matsumoto treat a hemiplegic patient who two years prior was knocked on her head by an ocean wave and lost sensation in the left side of her body. As Kiiko buzzed around the patient placing needles and pressing points, the patient reported, teary-eyed, that she could feel both her arms and hands. From that day on, I’ve been a firm believer in acupuncture’s healing potential.
Most patients try acupuncture as a last resort when their doctors have declared their discomfort unfixable or psychosomatic, or prescription drugs have caused collateral damage. Some give it a try when their insurance plans cover a certain number of visits. Others have found community acupuncture offers a way to make regular treatments affordable.
If you still haven’t tried acupuncture and are curious whether it’s worth your time and money, here are five encouraging reasons to give it a chance:
1. It's personalized healthcare.
No two acupuncture patients receive the same treatment for the same disease or discomfort. Acupuncturists treat patients, not diseases. They are trained to take in every detail of you, from the sound of your voice to the quality of your skin to the sparkle in your eyes. They care about your whole story, past and present. They see your body as a network of interdependent parts: muscle, bone, fascia, organs, blood and body fluids, as well as more subtle layers like meridians and qi. They see what is deficient and what is stuck, mentally as well as physically, and make adjustments like a traffic cop, facilitating the body’s own healing ability.
2. It’s nothing to be afraid of.
Sure, you may feel the needles and their immediate effects, but you needn’t be anxious. If you're suffering aches and pains on a daily basis, that chronic pain far outweighs any momentary mini pinch of a hair-thin sterile acupuncture needle.
3. It has lovely side effects.
You may go to acupuncture to cure your neck and shoulder pain, and find that the pain diminishes. Meanwhile, your stress level, sleep quality, digestion, and overall mood improve too.
4. It gets to the root.
Acupuncture treatments are deeply healing because they focus not only on the patient’s current condition, but investigate why their symptoms are manifesting and aim to treat the underlying root cause.
5. It works.
Acupuncture has been around since before recorded history. The earliest written record comes from a few hundred years before the common era. If it didn’t work, it certainly wouldn’t have lasted thousands of years and spread through hundreds of Asian medical lineages.
Scientists try to understand how acupuncture works from a biomedical perspective. Some refer to its effects on fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds all our muscles and organs. Some point to acupuncture’s ability to stimulate the limbic system and autonomic nervous system.
Some scientists claim in their studies that acupuncture is sometimes as effective as “sham acupuncture.” While they attempt to fit a versatile and non-linear medicine into a formulaic model with double-blind studies, the clinical experience of everyday practitioners and patients agrees with thousands of years of history — acupuncture works!
For an official list by the World Health Organization on what acupuncture treats, click here.