How to Make the Most of Your Acupuncture, Part 2: Debunking Common Misconceptions

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The feedback after my original post, How to Make the Most of your Acupuncture, was unbelievable. It quickly skyrocketed to one of my most popular posts, so I figured, why not do it again?! This is definitely a subject I have a lot of insight and opinion on!

This time I’m debunking 3 of the common misconceptions I see almost on the daily about acupuncture. Are you ready? Here goes!

Misconception #1: “I have to see my specialist first.”

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I am not one to argue against any doctor’s word—I always stay within my scope of practice when discussing medication or surgical procedures. But one thing I will strongly educate my clients on is that you do not have to know exactly what is going on before you get acupuncture!

We live in a world where if you wear a white coat, your word is gold. Well, we acupuncturists wore white coats in school, too! Most of us choose not to anymore, though, because, well… they are quite toasty to wear all day! Not the point… The point is, anyone can wear a white coat. Start thinking, advocating, and researching your own options, and trusting your own gut. Do not take anything as final. You know YOU best.

There are two other angles to this, hold tight—they are good. Number one, it’s human nature to tend to only see what we want or expect to see. When it comes to specialists, if you’re seeing a cardiologist, 9 times out of 10, they will say you have a heart problem. If you’re seeing a pulmonologist, well, the problem must be with your lungs!

And yes, we see specialists for the exact reason that they know specific areas of the body really, really well. The common issue that can happen though, is when you look too closely at something, the picture of the person as a whole fades away, and it can be easy to lose sight of what else may be a factor. Seeing your acupuncturist while also seeing a specialist will help you keep this perspective in check. You can think of us in the way a pregnant woman would think of a doula: We are here to help you, advocate for you, and when things get scary, help you see the big picture from a perspective that is unbiased and removed.

Last angle: Getting help for the pain, injury, illness, or disease alongside doctors appointments will not hurt anything. If the problem was not severe, it may just resolve (woohoo!) and if there is something really deep going on, your specialist will still find it and as an added bonus, you will get relief throughout the process by seeing an acupuncturist. There is no need to wait; in fact, I discourage it, especially if you were referred to a specialist by your PCP. That means an imbalance has been long standing in your body, and you should introduce acupuncture right away.

Misconception #2: “Once I’m healed, I’m done.”

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This is probably the biggest misconception out there, not even just in reference to acupuncture! One of my clients the other day told me that as she was headed out the door to her acupuncture appointment, her husband said, “You’ve been getting acupuncture for years, aren’t you better yet?” She told me she just giggled and smiled to herself. She gets it.

Unfortunately though, many people don’t. Our way of thinking about healthcare and medicine is completely backward. We wait until it is broken before we invest. It’s alarming to think we spend more time taking care of our cars than our bodies… but it’s totally true.

Then, we get our course of antibiotics or our flu shot and “we’re good.” Likewise, I see this in my own treatment room, the symptoms go away and the appointments drop off. I get it—when we feel good we don’t think about appointments for our health; they are harder to justify. But, this is THE POINT of preventative health care. The best situation is to feel good, stay in balance, and keep up with it so that serious illness does not manifest in the future.

When you’re “better,” I highly, highly, highly recommend you stick to a regimented treatment schedule. Yes, appointments can be further apart, but for your own health and longevity… don’t let them go completely. Shift your way of thinking, be like my client above, like you have the best kept secret to life… get regular acupuncture… even when you’re healthy.

Misconception #3: “Healing should be linear.”

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When in life is anything linear? Okay, maybe in calculus, but goodness me, don’t make me go back there! Healing does not happen in a straight line that steadily increases in a positive, upward slope at precisely point-two degrees per day. Sure, there may be periods of that, but for the most part, no-to-the-way!

If things get worse, if you feel more pain, if you feel sad, if emotion surfaces, if you “clear out” physically (yes, think bathroom), if you get more energy, if you lose energy, if your pain shifts to another area, if something surfaces… THESE ARE ALL HEALING REACTIONS.

Even though I find my needles pretty dang magic, they indeed are not. They cannot put anything into your body that was not already there. They can only direct and move energy. This is done specifically and intentionally, but they cannot inflict harm in any way. Whatever comes up after a treatment, was something that was already a part of YOU.  

Instead of freaking out and thinking that acupuncture “caused” something, try thinking about it in a different way. Try thinking of it as acupuncture “moved” something. Usually the stronger the “adverse” reaction, the more has been pushed down, the more really needs to move and surface so that true, authentic healing can take place. Acupuncture is many things, but it is certainly not a band-aid. This is a path for those who really and truly want to heal, and sometimes that will mean the surfacing of old wounds.

There you have it, the second round of what I see becoming a regular little series, maybe even a book one day?! One can dream!

Your health is the most important thing you have, if you have follow-up questions to any of these points (or the ones in my previous article) please don’t hesitate to comment, email, or if you see me regularly… ask!!

Here’s to healing,

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