Would Acupuncture Be a Waste of My Time and Money?
The world today is filled with countless methods to improve one's health and well-being - from yoga and meditation to supplements and surgeries. One method that has existed for thousands of years yet still sparks curiosity and scepticism is acupuncture. Is acupuncture really effective?, or is it just a placebo? Would it be a waste of time and money? In this article, we will explore various aspects of acupuncture to help you make an informed decision.
Is Acupuncture Worth Your Time and Money?
Table of Contents
- What is Acupuncture?
- Historical Background
- How Does Acupuncture Work?
- Benefits of Acupuncture
- Risks and Side Effects
- Costs and Time Investment
- Acupuncture vs. Western Medicine
- What to Expect in an Acupuncture Session
- Finding a Qualified Acupuncturist
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. This ancient practice is a key component of alternative medicine and is based on the belief that the body has a flow of energy, or 'Qi' (pronounced 'chee'), that travels along pathways known as meridians. Acupuncturists insert needles at specific points along these meridians to regulate the flow of Qi and hence promote healing and balance in the body.
Chinese acupuncture has been practised for thousands of years and is based on a holistic approach to health that seeks to address not only physical symptoms but also underlying imbalances that may be contributing to them.
It is believed that when the flow of Qi is disrupted or blocked, it can lead to illness or disease. Acupuncture aims to restore the flow of Qi and, in doing so, help to alleviate symptoms and promote overall health and well-being.
People seek acupuncture for a variety of reasons. Some turn to it for relief from chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis or migraines, while others use it as a complementary therapy to help manage the side effects of cancer treatment, such as nausea and fatigue.
Acupuncture might also help with stress, anxiety, and depression, as it is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system. Additionally, it is sometimes used to help with fertility issues or to support a healthy pregnancy.
It's important to note that while acupuncture may offer many potential benefits, it is not a substitute for conventional medical care. It is best used as part of an integrated approach to health and wellness that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and appropriate medical treatment when necessary.
Acupuncture has been practised in China for over 2,500 years, making it one of the oldest medical practices in the world. Over time, it has evolved and spread to other parts of the world, gaining popularity in the West in the 20th century.
Acupuncture is a fundamental element of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and Chinese acupuncture is extensively practised across China in specialized TCM hospitals as well as general hospitals and clinics. It is frequently used in combination with other TCM treatments, such as herbal medicine and cupping, as well as Western medical treatments and conventional therapies. This widespread acceptance and integration of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in the healthcare system showcases its importance and relevance in the Chinese medical landscape even today.
Additionally, acupuncture often complements other forms of treatment, including diet and exercise, to promote overall wellness. There are also different types of acupuncture, including moxibustion, which involves burning dried mugwort on or near the skin, and electroacupuncture, which involves passing a small electrical current through the needles. These various types of acupuncture can be used to target different health issues and promote healing in different ways.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture is an ancient practice that has been healing people for thousands of years. Traditional Medicine (TM) holds that acupuncture works by balancing the Yin and Yang forces in the body, thereby restoring health. According to this philosophy, health is a state of harmony between the body's opposing forces, and illness results from an imbalance. Acupuncture targets specific points on the body to restore this harmony, making it an effective treatment for a multitude of ailments.
Contrastingly, Western science suggests that acupuncture stimulates nerves, muscles, and connective tissues, thereby increasing blood flow and triggering the body's natural painkillers. This biochemical reaction reduces pain and inflammation, validating acupuncture as an effective treatment for various conditions.
While some sceptics attribute the positive results of acupuncture to the placebo effect, multiple studies have consistently demonstrated that acupuncture's effects extend far beyond placebo. These studies reveal that acupuncture triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, and influences neurotransmitter levels, which are crucial for mood and pain perception.
Acupuncture is not only grounded in ancient practices but is also well-supported by modern science as a highly effective form of alternative medicine. With the increasing acceptance and clinical use of acupuncture worldwide, there has been a corresponding growth in clinical research. Since 1975, over 10,000 randomised controlled trials on acupuncture have been published in medical journals such as JAMA and The BMJ (Lu et al., 2022).
Benefits of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is used to treat a wide array of conditions, showcasing its multifaceted benefits:
Pain Management: One of the key acupuncture benefits is its effectiveness in pain management. It is commonly utilized for alleviating headaches, migraines, neck pain, back pain, and osteoarthritis. Interestingly, the NICE guidelines recommend acupuncture for the management of chronic pain.
Stress and Anxiety: Acupuncture can help to reduce stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation and balancing the body's hormones.
Digestive Problems: Acupuncture can help treat various digestive problems, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, and acid reflux.
Insomnia: Acupuncture can help to improve sleep quality and treat insomnia.
Respiratory Problems: Acupuncture can help to treat respiratory problems, including asthma, allergies, and sinusitis.
Infertility: Acupuncture is also used as a complementary treatment in infertility cases, as it is believed to improve the body’s internal environment, making it more conducive for conception.
As evident, the scope of acupuncture's benefits extends beyond just pain management, encompassing a wide range of physical and emotional ailments. This makes acupuncture a versatile and invaluable tool in promoting overall well-being.
Not all types of acupuncture treatments are the same
While acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a qualified practitioner, like any medical treatment, it is not entirely without risks. However, the difference between Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture and dry needling, for instance, is massive, particularly in terms of safety and efficacy.
However, some risks and side effects need to be considered:
- Minor bleeding or bruising: This can occur at the sites where the needles are inserted. However, in the hands of a licensed professional practising real acupuncture, this is minimal.
- Dizziness or fainting: Some people might feel dizzy or faint during or after the treatment. However, this is rare and usually occurs only in individuals with a history of such reactions.
- Infection: Though extremely rare, as sterile needles are used, there is a small risk of infection at the needle sites. A proper license to practice ensures that the practitioner follows all necessary hygiene protocols to minimize this risk.
- Temporary soreness or pain: This can occur at the sites where the needles are inserted, but any discomfort usually subsides quickly.
Proper execution by a licensed and qualified practitioner significantly reduces the risks associated with acupuncture, including infection and other adverse effects.
Qualified acupuncturists, who practice acupuncture correctly, are trained to adhere to strict hygiene practices, including using sterile, single-use needles and the correct technique for needle insertion, thereby minimizing the risk of infection and other potential complications.
Members of the British Acupuncture Council are mandated to follow stringent standards of professional practice and hygiene. Therefore, by opting for a practitioner who is a member of the British Acupuncture Council, you ensure they have satisfied the high standards of training, hygiene, and professional conduct, thus minimizing the risk of infection and other potential complications, such as pneumothorax.
Deanna Thomas is a licensed and qualified acupuncturist and a registered member of the British Acupuncture Council. This means she has met the high standards of training, hygiene, and professional conduct required by the council, thereby minimizing the risks associated with acupuncture, such as infection and other potential complications. By choosing a practitioner like Deanna, registered with the British Acupuncture Council, you can be assured that you are in safe and capable hands.
Remember, while there are sceptics who may argue that acupuncture isn't an effective treatment, the key to a successful acupuncture experience lies in the hands of the practitioner. Fake acupuncture, performed by unqualified individuals, can indeed be ineffective and potentially harmful. Therefore, it is crucial to choose a practitioner who is licensed and has a proven track record of success.
Costs and Time Investment
The cost of acupuncture varies based on several factors, including location, the practitioner's experience, and the length and frequency of the sessions. A typical session can last 30 minutes to an hour, and multiple sessions are often required to achieve the best results.
Acupuncture is a cumulative therapy, meaning its effects build up over time. That's why your acupuncturist may recommend a course of treatments. The frequency of treatments can vary based on your specific needs and the nature of your condition.
It's advisable to check with your insurance provider about coverage for acupuncture treatments.
Your first acupuncture appointment, which includes your treatment and consultation, starts from £65 and lasts from an hour to an hour and a half. Subsequent appointments cost £50 and last about an hour. We also offer discounted packages where you can block-book a series of sessions.
This approach not only helps make the treatment more affordable but also encourages the commitment needed for the cumulative effects of acupuncture to take hold and deliver the most benefit. Additionally, it is important to note that regular maintenance sessions will be required to help maintain lasting benefits. Just like with diet and exercise, consistency is key to achieving and maintaining the positive effects of acupuncture.
Acupuncture vs. Western Medicine
While Western medicine and acupuncture originate from very different philosophies and practices, they can be used synergistically to create a comprehensive and holistic treatment plan. Western medicine, rooted in anatomical and physiological principles, primarily focuses on diagnosing symptoms and diseases, often prescribing pharmaceuticals or surgeries as remedies. On the other hand, acupuncture, a fundamental aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine, aims to address the root causes of diseases by promoting overall wellness and balancing the body's energy, or 'Qi'. This is achieved through the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body, which are believed to regulate the flow of Qi.
Ultimately, integrating acupuncture with Western medical treatments can provide a multifaceted approach that addresses both the symptoms and underlying causes of a condition. This integrated approach can be especially advantageous for chronic conditions, as it supports the body's natural healing processes and fosters a sense of overall well-being. Therefore, consulting an acupuncturist in conjunction with receiving Western medical treatments can significantly enhance a comprehensive treatment plan, particularly for chronic conditions that are resistant to conventional therapies.
What to Expect in an Acupuncture Session
When you have an acupuncture appointment with Deanna Thomas - Acupuncture & Wellbeing, the session will begin with a detailed consultation.
Deanna will thoroughly review your medical history, including any medications you are taking, and conduct a comprehensive examination of your signs and symptoms. This thorough diagnosis will be made using the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and may involve listening to your pulse, examining your tongue, and examining the area of complaint.
After the consultation and examination, thin, sterile needles will be inserted into specific acupuncture points on your body. You may feel a slight pinch as the needles are inserted, followed by sensations of warmth, tingling, or heaviness. The needles are usually left in place for about 20-30 minutes. During this time, you can relax and even fall asleep while listening to soothing music.
The session is designed to be a calming and therapeutic experience, and Deanna's approach ensures that your treatment is tailored to your specific needs and aims to address the root causes of your symptoms.
Finding a Qualified Acupuncturist
It is important to find a qualified acupuncturist to ensure safe and effective treatment. Here are some tips to find a qualified practitioner:
Acupuncture is an ancient practice that can offer various benefits, including pain relief, stress reduction, and improved sleep. While there are some risks and side effects to consider, it is generally considered safe when performed by a qualified practitioner. The cost and time investment can vary widely, so it is advisable to discuss this with your practitioner and insurance provider beforehand.
Ultimately, the only way acupuncture would be a waste of your time and money is if you booked an appointment and didn't turn up or you didn't commit to giving your sessions a chance of working for you. If you are closed-minded about it working for you, nothing will work. Your specific situation and health needs will determine whether acupuncture is a wise investment of your time and money.
Are you ready to take control of your health and well-being? Don't wait any longer to start your journey towards better health. Deanna is a licensed and qualified acupuncturist and a registered member of the British Acupuncture Council, ensuring that you are in safe and capable hands. Give yourself the gift of health and well-being. Book your appointment now and take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.
Is acupuncture painful?
- Acupuncture usually involves a slight pinch as the needles are inserted, followed by a feeling of warmth, tingling, or heaviness. Most people find acupuncture to be relaxing and even fall asleep during the treatment.
- How many acupuncture sessions will I need?
- The number of sessions required varies depending on the individual and the condition being treated. Some people may experience relief after just one session, while others may require multiple sessions over several weeks or months.
- Is acupuncture covered by insurance?
- Coverage for acupuncture varies depending on the insurance provider and plan. It is advisable to check with your insurance provider before starting treatment.
- Are there any side effects of acupuncture?
- While acupuncture is generally considered safe, there are some potential side effects, including minor bleeding or bruising at the needle sites, dizziness or fainting, infection, and temporary soreness or pain.
- Can I do acupuncture while taking medication?
- Yes, acupuncture can be done while taking medication. However, it is important to inform your practitioner about any medications you are taking, as it may affect the treatment plan
Lu, L., Zhang, Y., Tang, X., Ge, S., Wen, H., Zeng, J., Wang, L., Zeng, Z., Rada, G., Ávila, C., Vergara, C., Tang, Y., Zhang, P., Chen, R., Dong, Y., Wei, X., Luo, W., Wang, L., Guyatt, G. and Tang, C. (2022). Evidence on acupuncture therapies is underused in clinical practice and health policy. BMJ, 376, p.e067475. doi:https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj-2021-067475.