If you’ve never been exposed to traditional Chinese medicine before, you may not even know what acupuncture is…and that’s OK! But why not know about all the healthcare options available to you? Acupuncture has been in use for over 2,000 years. It follows the Chinese medicine belief that no issue in the body is isolated. Everything is connected, whether it’s a connection between various body parts and organs or between the mind, body, and spirit, a person’s wellbeing is always considered as a total picture and not one segment.
The root of this belief is that each person, each living thing, has qi—a life energy. Qi flows through the body in energy streams known as meridians, which are related to hundreds of points on the skin. When blockages exist in the meridians and the flow of qi is inhibited, health is compromised and pain or illness can result. Acupuncture is the strategic placement of ultra-thin (think a hair’s width) needles in the acupoints that correspond to the meridians of the issue at hand. The goal is to renew the healthy flow of qi and to restore the body to balance.
Whether you know a little bit about acupuncture, have never heard of it, or know all about it and have decided that it’s not for you—take a look at these reasons that may be holding you back from giving it a whirl, and see if you want to reevaluate your assumptions!
Combating the Fear of Needles
“I’m afraid of needles.” Fear of needles is the number one reason people refuse to try acupuncture. While there are some that have a genuine phobia of needles, there are others that are hesitant because the first thought that accompanies the idea of needles is “ouch!”. This is a huge misnomer about the practice of acupuncture: the truth is that it does not hurt.
We know what you’re thinking—how can that be? It’s because the needles used in acupuncture are not anything like the needles you are used to seeing in a Western medical setting. They are extremely thin—they even bend at the touch. And needles used in some forms of acupuncture, such as Japanese techniques, are even thinner. Not only does the placement of these needles not hurt, patients report that the acupuncture treatment itself is relaxing. After an intake and diagnosis with your practitioner, he or she will place the needles and leave you in a restful position in your treatment room for 15 to 20 minutes before returning to remove the needles. This time is for de-stressing and to allow the needles to do their work of unblocking qi and restoring peace and wellbeing to your body.
Addressing Skepticism About Acupuncture’s Effectiveness
“I don’t think it works.” If acupuncture interests you, or you have tried conventional medicine treatments for an issue and are open to seeking Oriental medicine in conjunction with them, or if you just have a curiosity in exploring all of your medical options—then isn’t it worth trying acupuncture and finding out if it works for you? The use of acupuncture for issues ranging from sports injury to anxiety has been studied and has been determined to effectively treat an extensive list of ailments including but not limited to pain management, insomnia, anxiety, depression, migraines, arthritis, sports injury recovery, and, in particular, OBGYN and fertility issues. In fact, recent studies in Germany and Australia have discovered that acupuncture, when used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization (IVF), can boost a woman’s odds of successfully conceiving and carrying a baby up by 50% than those who didn’t use acupuncture.
Additionally, there are no side effects to acupuncture. Unlike invasive or chemical Western medical treatments, acupuncture has no downside. There is nothing to lose by giving it a try, and quite possibly everything to gain—relief, wellbeing, and health.
But why believe us? Check out what patients are saying about their experiences. The website “PatientsLikeMe” is a community site where patients from all of the world can rate and discuss what kind of treatments have worked for specific health ailments. This is unbiased user-generated data. See what comes up when you search “acupuncture”:
Considering the Cost and Accessibility of Acupuncture
“It’s more money than Western care.” Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are still in the process of being incorporated into many insurance policies. However, 2011 was an outstanding year for integrative medicine. Many of these developments grew out of the mandated inclusion of integrative and complementary and alternative medicine practices in the Obama-Pelosi Affordable Care Act. The public’s interest in holistic healthcare is on the rise. The latest studies indicate that 65 to 80 percent of the world’s population and approximately 38 percent of all Americans use complementary alternative medicine (CAM). An increasing number of medical centers now offer integrative services. According to a recent survey by the American Hospital Association and the Samueli Institute, a nonprofit research group focusing on complementary medicine, 42 percent of the 714 hospitals that responded offered at least one such therapy in 2010, a significant jump from just five years earlier, when 27 percent of hospitals offered such treatments.
Even if your insurance does not cover acupuncture, there are affordable places to find treatment. Most Oriental medicine colleges, including each of Pacific College’s three campuses (San Diego, Chicago, and New York) have a clinic on site. At a school clinic, you can get an acupuncture treatment from a student practitioner (supervised by an experienced practicing acupuncturist professor) for anywhere from $40 to $60 dollars per treatment. Also, Community acupuncture clinics are becoming increasingly popular and easy to find. These clinics charge anywhere between $15 and $50 per treatment, some based on a sliding scale or donation.
Finding the Right Acupuncture Practitioner
“I don’t know where to go or who to see.” Well, that’s what we’re here for! We’ve made it super easy for you. If you go to our directory (which can also help you find a massage therapist, by the way), you can search by your zip code to find an acupuncturist in your area, as well as learn what areas he or she specializes in.
You can also call one of our clinics and request further information about the best practitioner to see, defined by what your ailment is.
Lastly, check out Acufinder’s directory (if ours doesn’t list someone close enough to your home): https://www.acufinder.com/
There are numerous ways that acupuncture can enrich your life, help you heal, and provide balance to your mind and spirit. Don’t let an excuse get in the way of reaching your best state of being!
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Acupuncture: An Introduction: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction.htm
Understanding Science: Can Science Study Acupuncture? http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/acupuncture