Crosspost: Because Acupuncture Can Help

Originally posted on August 6, 2014 on What’s Wrong With You?

When I tell  people I’m an Acupuncturist there are always the inevitable questions. “Does it really work?” or a variation thereof, throwing in “placebo” for good measure. Sometimes it’s followed up with “Isn’t it expensive?” or “I don’t think my insurance covers it.”  And, of course, the perennial favorite: “Oh, needles! Doesn’t it hurt?”

When I began studying Acupuncture I would vociferously defend the validity of the medicine from every angle I could think of. I would go on and on about research, past and present. Discuss which ailments the World Health Organization or the National Institute of Health currently list as showing improvement with acupuncture. Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, chronic pain, insomnia and Bell’s Palsy, among many others.

I would point out the sheer volume of hospitals around the US that have integrated some aspect of acupuncture into their facilities. Hospitals here in New York like Sloan Kettering, New York Presbyterian and Mount Sinai. In fact, a recent survey by the American Hospital Association showed that 42% of hospitals in the US has at least some kind of acupuncture available. Even the US Military has recognized the efficacy of acupuncture for better pain management, treatment of PTSD, and speeding the rehabilitative process.  A recently released report from the office of Veteran Affairs, highlighting the concern over their skyrocketing addiction and suicide rates, emphasized the efficacy of acupuncture versus pain medications for Afghan returnees.

Then I’d inform people most health insurance plans cover some CAM (complimentary/alternative medicine) treatments. Lots of people could use their insurance, they just don’t know. The New York State House and Senate has even passed a bill adding acupuncture to workman’s comp coverage. Now the Governor just has to sign it.

I started on the journey to become an acupuncturist after it effectively cured my arthritis. I know, I can’t say “cured” to a patient I ever plan to treat. It’s disingenuous and illegal.  It is, however, exactly what I experienced. I saw a wonderful Acupuncturist in midtown for 3 months. After 10 treatments all of my symptoms were alleviated and have not had a reappearance since. All the standard western interventions had done nothing for me except mask my pain and disrupt my digestion. I was amazed that pain I had been living with for 3 years diminished and disappeared in such a short time. It sparked a light in me and I decided I had to know how to do this, too. So my journey began.

Now that know for myself, I just keep it simple and answer the questions.

Does it hurt? Not really. The needles we use are pre-packaged sterile, single use stainless steel needles that are roughly the thickness of one of the hairs on your head.

Does it work? Yes. Speaking from both sides of the needle, I know firsthand how effective a handful of needles can be. I have treated or helped treat patients with a myriad of conditions, virtually all of whom saw definitively positive results from their time in treatment. I don’t bother with the naysayers; they like staying skeptical in the face of mounting evidence and that’s their prerogative.

Seriously though, if you and I were sitting around, talking about our health and life and stuff, drinking some coffee or whatever, and you asked me about it I’d say:

“Look, if you’ve been shot or you broke something or any other emergency, of course go to the emergency room. If you’re bleeding profusely or can’t breathe, please, go.”

Then I would pause, just a moment, maybe take a sip of that coffee or whatever…

“But if you’ve got anything else going on, and I really do mean anything, physically, mentally or emotionally, go see your acupuncturist.”

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