Calling All Acupuncture Skeptics: Here Are Some Great Reasons To Give It A Try

Photo: Aubrie LeGault

Today, we're witnessing a major shift in how people think about their health and well-being. From fitness and food to mindfulness and self-care, people are finally realizing the true power of prevention and focusing their time and attention on it. When we maintain our body, we can prevent flare-ups and stop illness before it manifests, and one of the best ways to do this is through alternative practices—that are becoming more mainstream every day—like acupuncture, massage, and essential oils.

But despite the fact that these modalities are becoming more popular, many people (understandably) have a lot of questions before they step out of their comfort zones and into their friendly community acupuncture office. And like many other alternative therapies, acupuncture (an ancient Eastern medicine practice) has plenty of fact and fiction surrounding it. So let's start with what everyone gets wrong about acupuncture.

Myths about acupuncture we can debunk right now:

1. Acupuncture only works for pain relief.

It’s true; science backs up the use of acupuncture for both acute and chronic pain relief. In fact, the FDA recommends doctors send pain patients to acupuncture before prescribing addictive painkillers. But there are also so many more reasons to include acupuncture as a core part of your wellness routine! Acupuncture is used for a wide range of conditions like fertility, insomnia, and digestive complaints such as IBS.

Acupuncture is also a powerful prevention tool. In fact, in ancient China, you paid your acupuncturist for maintenance sessions, and if you did get sick, you didn’t pay until you were healthy again. You might ask yourself, how will I know preventive acupuncture is actually effective? The modern stress and anxiety epidemic makes for a great way to measure the effects of acupuncture. Falling asleep during a session or sleeping better at night, having more energy during the day, or feeling generally more relaxed are clear signals that treatment is working. Maybe you’ll notice less PMS, increased sex drive, or fewer seasonal allergies than last year.

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2. Acupuncture is painful.

It’s important to remember that acupuncture needles are the size of a human hair. In fact, they are so tiny that 40 acupuncture needles can fit inside one hypodermic needle (the kind used to draw blood or get vaccinated). Sometimes, a new client asks me when I’m going to start the acupuncture treatment, and at this point, they already have several needles in and didn’t feel a thing! Sometimes you may feel a dull ache from an acupuncture needle indicating activation of the point, but these sensations are not typically painful. In fact, it’s often the opposite of painful. Treatment can be so relaxing that many of my clients fall asleep, waking up feeling rejuvenated and de-stressed.

3. Acupuncturists are not well-trained.

Acupuncturists are highly trained. Practicing acupuncture requires a state license and a minimum of a master’s degree, which is three to four years of training. Training is grounded in science, mainly anatomy and physiology. I recently received my doctorate in Chinese medicine, a program that wasn’t available when I first started acupuncture school in the '90s but will be increasingly common. In the United States today, there are more than 50 acupuncture schools and 30,000 licensed acupuncturists. As society shifts to the new wellness mindset, acupuncture is a growing and in-demand field.

4. If you didn't feel better after the first session, it isn't for you.

Acupuncture treats many conditions, both chronic and acute. Oftentimes, the longer you’ve had a condition, the longer it will take to restore your body to function and balance, especially when you take a gentler approach and utilize Eastern medicine instead of pharmaceutical drugs. And while it may take a number of sessions to treat the root cause of your symptoms, at a minimum, many people report feeling relaxed and rejuvenated after your first session. So that's something to look forward to!

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Related Class

Five reasons to give acupuncture a try.

We live in the age of anxiety, and between reading the news and managing our hectic lives, who doesn’t feel stressed on a daily basis? In fact, anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million Americans, but less than half of those suffering actually receive treatment Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for stress and a variety of other disorders caused by our hectic modern lives. Here are five conditions that acupuncture might be able to help with:

1. Mental well-being.

Acupuncture sessions offer the pause in our day we all need to restore our psyche and hit the refresh button. Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for anxiety. Results may even be felt after the first session, and with regular treatments, many people even consider it to be a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals. Stress plays a role in almost every disease out there, and regular acupuncture treatments can be a great way to combat the negative effects of chronic stress.

2. PMS.

Many women have found relief from PMS symptoms through acupuncture. But you don’t have to wait until you’re curled up in a ball in pain or fighting with your partner. Come before PMS symptoms start so you can lessen symptoms beforehand.

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3. Text neck and headaches.

Too much screen time can cause your neck to hurt and trigger headaches. Acupuncture can relax tight, overworked muscles and help reduce pain. Acupuncture works with the fascial network of the body to help release your body’s natural opiates.

4. Insomnia.

Regular acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for chronic insomnia. Acupuncture can relax the mind and body to help you drift off at night. Many people report a great night’s sleep after the very first session.

5. Skin health.

You drink green juice, take spin classes, and use an app for meditation. So why wouldn’t your facial cosmetic regime also be natural? Acupuncture enthusiasts report that facial rejuvenation can relax wrinkles, activate sagging facial muscles, and boost collagen levels. In addition, many facial rejuvenation treatments include points to benefit overall wellness.

If you're not quite ready for the acupuncture table, here's an acupressure routine (no needles required) that will help you get a blissful night's sleep.

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