1. What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves the stimulation of certain points on the body in order to influence the flow of inner life energy (traditionally called “chi”) through the invisible energy meridians within the body. When energy is imbalanced, negative health issues appear in the body. When the energy is balanced, the body tends to heal these issues naturally. The purpose of acupuncture is to bring about natural healing by balancing these inner energies.
Acupuncture is typically performed with tiny needles that are used to stimulate individual acupuncture points. However, there are many other ways to stimulate these acupuncture points as well. Other methods involve tapping them with your fingers, applying pressure for extended amounts of time (acupressure), stimulating them with a warm object (moxibustion), or even zapping them with specially developed lasers in a new phenomenon called laser acupuncture.
2. Does acupuncture actually work?
Acupuncture does what it is supposed to do: helps balance the flow of energy throughout your body’s energy meridians. If an imbalance in this energy is the primary cause of an illness or discomfort in your body, then acupuncture can often provide long-lasting relief. If some other issue is the primary cause of your symptoms, then acupuncture may not provide relief for your condition, or its relief may be only partial or temporary.
A good example of a condition where acupuncture may not provide relief is in clinical depression. For some people, acupuncture provides relief, but for others, it does not. So why does this occur? This most likely occurs because there are multiple unseen causes of depression. There are purely emotional causes, like a traumatic event in your life that disturbs your psyche. And there are also purely physical causes, like a genetic pre-disposition in the brain.
In my own life, energy-based treatments like acupuncture were very ineffective at treating my genetically-caused depression which I had had for all my life. I eventually had to get prescription anti-depressants to treat it properly. However, I did have great success in treating my anxiety disorder with acupressure and meridian point finger-tapping techniques. In a single visit with a skilled acupressure practitioner, I was able to significantly reduce my social anxiety. This was most likely successful because my anxiety was caused by inner beliefs and emotions which can be highly influenced by the meridian energy system. The anxiety was probably not caused by genetics, as my depression was.
In short, acupuncture and similar energy-based techniques may or may not be appropriate for treating your specific condition. In clinical medicine, a doctor has to first diagnose the cause of a symptom before treating it properly. Unfortunately for many of us, there is not always a clear way to diagnose whether a symptom is caused by an energy imbalance or not, since our energies are invisible to the naked eye. Often the only way to tell if energy therapy such as acupuncture is appropriate is by receiving the treatment and seeing if any improvement occurs.
3. Is acupuncture painful?
Acupuncture needle insertion sometimes produces minor pain or discomfort. If you experience any discomfort, just tell your practitioner and he can make the appropriate adjustments to the needle insertion to help reduce your pain. I have personally never heard a single story of anyone experiencing severe pain during an acupuncture session.
4. What are the benefits of acupuncture?
There are millions of people across the world that have experienced physical and emotional healing with acupuncture and acupressure techniques. Because the flow of inner energy is vital to any healing process in the body, it is likely that energy therapy such as acupuncture can positively influence the body’s healing of almost any physical condition.
5. What are possible negative side effects of acupuncture?
Negative experiences with acupuncture usually amount to simply not receiving the desired benefit, such as relief or cure of a negative health condition. Stories of acupuncture actually making an illness worse are rare. In most cases, if symptoms appear to get worse at first, the treatments should be continued because progress is actually being made. This is similar to healing repressed negative emotions: first you must uncover and identify the painful emotions, before letting them go. Similarly, a cut in your skin that is sanitized with rubbing alcohol will sting, even though the sanitization is beneficial to your health. In the energy medicine world, sometimes a treatment can uncover repressed negative energy within you that must be experienced before it can be identified and then healed.
Another common side effect of energy therapy such as acupuncture is extreme exhaustion immediately after a treatment. Strangely, this is usually a sign that great progress has been made. In the energy healing world, this is probably the most commonly experienced negative side effect of any type of energetic healing. Exhaustion can be cured by a good night’s sleep, and most patients wake up feeling better the next day.
6. How much does acupuncture cost?
Acupuncture prices tend to gravitate between $40 and $100 per session. Many practitioners sell packages of multiple treatments for a reduced price. Some also provide related services such as massage or aromatherapy. In general, there is no set price for acupuncture, as each clinic will set its own prices based on the experience they provide.
7. Is acupuncture covered by insurance?
Some insurance plans do include coverage for acupuncture. You will have to check the details of your specific insurance plan to see if acupuncture is covered.