Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice of healing the body, preventing disease, and relieving pain. To perform acupuncture, a licensed practitioner inserts stainless steel, sterilized needles along energy pathways of the body, called meridians. Blockages or disruptions of these pathways is thought to cause disease. By placing the needles throughout the meridians, an acupuncturist can help regulate and realign the energy throughout the body.
While acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, there are still myths surrounding its use.
Especially in the Western world, where acupuncture was introduced fairly recently, there are still misconceptions about its use, effectiveness, and the treatment itself. Three of the biggest myths about acupuncture are discussed below.
Acupuncture is painful.
Acupuncture needles are actually up to 50 times thinner than a hypodermic needle, therefore, the body normally feels little pain at all during their insertion. Most people are actually surprised by how little pain they feel during the procedure. If any sensation is felt, it is normally felt as awkward, a slight prick, or a small amount of tingling or numbness.
The use of acupuncture needles can spread disease.
Always visit a professionally certified acupuncturist to ensure a safe and healthy procedure. If unsure, search for the acupuncturist in the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s Registry to check that the individual has been certified. Individual states also have their own licensing boards. When visiting a certified acupuncturist, they will only use pre-packaged, sterile, one-time use needles to perform the procedure. With these safeguards in place, there is no risk of disease transmission.
Western healthcare professionals do not accept the use of acupuncture as a treatment method.
Acupuncture is gaining acceptance in the traditional Western model of medicine, especially for pain relief. Large government organizations, like the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the World Health Organization (WHO), have collected research from controlled clinical trials to showcase the efficacy, benefits, and possible risks from acupuncture treatment. In all, acupuncture is becoming a much more common practice, with physicians routinely referring patients to acupuncturists for treatment, depending on the patient’s condition.
Many of the myths about acupuncture will certainly be debunked with public education and advocacy. Acupuncture is a time-tested treatment program that has been proven useful in treating many health conditions or as a preventative measure.
Have you received acupuncture before? How was your experience?
Image by Marnie Joyce via Flickr