4 Things You Didn’t Know About Acupuncture
Published on August 13, 2014 by Dr. Caitlin Gordon
1. It treats more than pain!
Chinese Medicine is designed to be a complete healthcare system, which can treat literally ANY problem. This doesn’t mean that Chinese Medicine treats every problem as well as other medical interventions, but it does broaden the scope of what most people assume acupuncture can do. Many “incurable” conditions according to orthodox western medicine like allergies, asthma or autoimmune diseases respond very well to Chinese Medicine.
Acupuncture is wonderful at helping pain—injuries, headaches, cramps, etc. But, it can also treat your seasonal allergies, the flu, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diabetes, yeast infections, anxiety, insomnia… and so much more. It treats many of these things BETTER than orthodox western medicine! I can get rid of your yeast infection or UTI without you ever needing another prescription med, no side effects, and fewer infections in the future. I’d say that’s better than what your M.D. has to offer.
Need a biopsy? Antibiotics for a staph infection? Inhaler for an asthma attack? Orthodox Western Medicine is necessary and can be a lifesaver. I will always refer you appropriately.
2. It’s a bargain.
Chinese medicine saves money on healthcare in the long run. If you are seeing an acupuncturist regularly, you are:
- using less medication
- getting sick less often
- recovering from injuries or illness more quickly
- potentially avoiding surgery
- less likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
How can I say that? Because you are spending the time and energy to preserve your health using a system based on prevention, and this is proven to be effective.
3. Your acupuncturist is highly educated.
If you are seeing a licensed acupuncturist, then they went to school for longer than you might think. People often think acupuncture school is akin to becoming a massage therapist or yoga instructor (not to diss those wonderful vocations). My acupuncture program earned me a Master’s degree in science. I took 18-24 credits for 7 trimesters, straight-through summers. That’s 2 and a half years of non-stop school! This is longer than a typical Masters program for something like social work or economics. Acupuncturists take multiple rigorous national board exams—adaptive computerized exams, GMAT-style. Additionally, I had to take exit exams for my degree program—6 continuous hours of comprehensive testing. I also spent 500 hours in the clinic treating real patients before I graduated.
There are acupuncturists who do 5 year Ph.D. programs. This is something I hope to pursue later in my career. The point being, your acupuncturist is a well-trained healthcare professional, not a hobbyist with a pack of needles.
We don’t just study Chinese medical theory and practice poking people—though that stuff is why you come to see me. Biomedicine was a large component of my training. I took courses in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, nutrition, psychology, and pathology. I know how your thyroid meds work chemically, and I understand which physical structures are involved in your shoulder pain. I can properly evaluate your condition to assess if you need to be referred to another health care provider.
4. Acupuncture is relaxing.
But, you’re going to stick needles in my body… that does not sound relaxing. I know, I know. But, weirdly, it really is. Acupuncture puts you right into the parasympathetic mode (rest and digest, i.e. heal) by reducing the stress chemicals your body makes in fight or flight mode—unfortunately many modern humans’ daily MO. Of course, you won’t understand until you experience it, but acupuncture gives you this amazing high. It’s a combo of “I instinctually know this is good for my body”, and endorphins and natural opiates which literally make you feel a little buzzed. Plus, having someone spend an hour to and an hour and a half with no other goal than to dive into your health history, every single symptom you experience, and to truly care, and then even better have a plan to help, and—boom— put that plan into action…that feels really good. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself.
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