Acupuncture is an ancient healing art that has more recently gained popularity all over the world, with it's benefits increasingly recognised by both national and international health organisations for a wide range of conditions. However, research indicates that the many myths surrounding this seemingly exotic therapy remain strong, which is understandable considering that it is only relatively new to the Western world.
It's important to understand what's true and what's not when it comes to acupuncture so that you can make an informed choice about whether it is the right therapy for you, so lets bust some acupuncture myths!
Myth 1) Acupuncture hurts
When most people think of needles, they think of their experiences with vaccines and blood tests which can be fairly unpleasant. In a recent survey, 25% of people thought an acupuncture needle was around the same size as a sewing needle! However, acupuncture needles are different: they are super thin – about the size of a human hair.
Usually when having their first session, patients are pleasantly surprised, saying “Is that all?” or “I barely felt that!” when the needles go in. Most people find acupuncture very relaxing and will often fall asleep during their treatment.
Myth 2) Acupuncture is just placebo
The placebo effect is an amazing phenomenon that means a certain percentage of people receiving ANY medical intervention (including pharmaceutical medication, and even surgery!) will get better, regardless of the treatment, purely by their belief in the beneficial effect of the treatment. However all high quality research MUST 'control' for the placebo effect, and show that the effect of the intervention is greater than placebo. This includes all modern research into acupuncture. Innumerable large scale studies indicate that acupuncture has a beneficial effect over and above placebo, and this body of evidence is growing by the day.
As an aside, acupuncture is commonly used for children and pets with beneficial outcomes, demonstrating that you don't need to believe in acupuncture for it to work.
Myth 3) Acupuncture is just for pain
Whilst acupuncture for pain has been an area of extensive research indicating a beneficial effect, research has also evaluated it's use for a broad range of other conditions, from anxiety and depression, to infertility, chemotherapy side effects, and digestive disorders.
Remember that acupuncture has been a part of primary health care in China for thousands of years, and has evolved comprehensive strategies for assisting with almost any condition you can think of.
Myth 4) Acupuncture is unregulated and unsafe
Acupuncture is a nationally registered profession in Australia, and is governed by AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency), the same board that governs doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers. Practitioners have to have University level qualifications and meet stringent requirements each year to remain on the national register.
Registered practitioners follow strict health and safety guidelines, and use only sterile, single use needles. Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medicine across the globe with an extremely low rate of adverse effects worldwide.
Myth 5) Acupuncture is a miracle treatment
Whilst I am one of acupuncture biggest fans, and I love sharing it's amazing benefits with people and seeing great results in my clinic, I think it is also important to remember that it is not a magic cure-all. Acupuncture is just one part of the multi-faceted system of Chinese Medicine, and it was never intended to be practiced in isolation. Engrained in Chinese Medicine philosophy is the notion that healing is a wholistic process, incorporating important dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as other healing modalities as required.
Acupuncture is one wonderful part of an integrative approach to restoring and maintaining radiant glowing health, and works beautifully alongside Western medical treatments and other complementary therapies. To ensure you make the most of your treatments, be sure to follow any suggestions your practitioner makes to support your healing journey.
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