There are two predominant misconceptions about acupuncture that need to be cleared up so the public can utilize this amazingly effective therapy. The first misconception some people have is that because acupuncture uses needles it must be at least as painful as a shot at a medical doctor’s office. This is not true. Acupuncture needles are nothing like the hypodermic needles that administer vaccines and other drugs. The only similarity is that acupuncture needles are disposable and are therefore used only once so that diseases are not spread via the blood. Whereas hypodermic (hypo=below, dermic=skin) needles are hollow at the tip so that fluids or drugs can flow through them, acupuncture needles are extremely fine. This means that when the needle penetrates the skin there is a sensation but usually little to no pain. Whereas we could say that a hypodermic needle causes pain, we could say that an acupuncture needle might cause a slight poke, or very subtle sting, or no sensation.
Often though, patients have a fear of needles and in those cases, the competent practitioner of acupuncture might use acupressure, laser therapy or Tui Na massage. In other words, even if you have a disdain for needles, you can still get effective care from an acupuncturist without them. In addition, most acupuncturists are also trained in herbal medicine, dietary therapy, lifestyle counseling and therapeutic exercises.
The second misconception is that acupuncture and Chinese medicine are connected to or imply the use of eastern religion. While it is true that the history of acupuncture is diverse and that it originated in a culture embedded in Taoist, Confucianist and Buddhist thought, the same is true of western medicine which has its roots in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Christians need to recognize that they can benefit tremendously from acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Just as a Buddhist or a Taoist can get results from antibiotics that are prescribed appropriately, so too can a Christian get great results from acupuncture when administered by a competent practitioner. Essentially what this means is that acupuncture is a science, just as western medicine is a science, but it is a science of the flow of energetics within the body and it is based in thousands of years of observation.
Nowadays, we hear of scientific journals around the world reporting the effectiveness of acupuncture for myriad conditions and it behooves us here in the west to take heed of the evidence. While many practitioners do align themselves with eastern religions, many are Christians and what is important to remember is that the effectiveness of acupuncture is not dependent on belief. Though your results may be better if you use acupuncture and prayer together, studies have found that even if people don’t believe in acupuncture they still get results. So, if you are a Christian and are afraid to utilize acupuncture or Chinese medicine because you don’t want to participate in a religious belief, talk to a competent practitioner and let them know your concerns. Most acupuncturists are here to serve human health and will listen to your needs. It is time that the powerful therapy of acupuncture is embraced and maximized here in the west.
© James Whittle M.S., L.Ac. All rights reserved.