‘Yeah, I had acupuncture once, it didn’t work’ – why that one appointment is just not gonna to cut it.
Strap in ladies in gents. Today we’re going to debunk some of the common misconceptions associated with Acupuncture.
Remembering back to the days where social gatherings were a thing (we are getting closer Victoria!), polite conversation would be jostling back and forth between new acquaintances and old friends.
Small talk would always guarantee the question for what you do for a living. “I am an Acupuncturist”, Dr Ally would say, red wine in hand, bloody proud of herself for getting through years of study and you know what, actually loving the work she does. It beams out of her face right at them, zap. Reactions can be mixed, and honestly most don’t bother her.
‘Oh, I don’t believe in Acupuncture.’
That’s fine, it isn’t Bigfoot, it’s science, you don’t need to believe in it.
‘My physio does Acupuncture.’
Nah, they don’t.
This is called dry needling and can be dangerous due to the lack of training completed by the practitioner. “Check how they were trained – took me 4 years to learn how to needle. They may only do a weekend course,” Dr Ally added, “and it has got nothing to do with Chinese Medicine and it’s theory.”
‘How does it work?’
Well grab that bottle of wine and come sit, let us explain!
There is one answer we hear from a staggering amount of people. ‘Yeah, I did that once and it didn’t work.’ Urgh. Even just writing that down conjures up reactive emotions. It is in this moment in which we have to make the split second decision. Do we become those people at the party others are trying to get away from?
Should we compress the next few points (down the page) into an urgent discussion that we believe they MUST hear? Verbally assaulting that poor person’s ears? Or do we just let it go, smile and say ‘Bummer, that’s a shame’… take a sip and change the subject?
Why does it bother us so much?
It bothers us because it’s what they will say to friends and family, possibly discouraging those around them to think twice about using Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine as their healthcare option. It also shows a lack of understanding on how this medicine actually works, and look, it isn’t their fault, they haven’t studied the course. This is more so their practitioner’s fault. Good communication and treatment plans are key to getting and seeing results and reaching goals.
‘So why doesn’t one Acupuncture treatment work?’
Well buckle in and we’ll tell you!
(*Little disclaimer – Western Med is great. In fact I work alongside it with our patients all the time. If you are taking any medications, do not stop them without first speaking to your Chinese Med AND Western Med doctors. That can be dangerous and damaging, especially if you personally need those medications. Open up the dialogue, but always take professional advice.)
Chinese Medicine very different to the Western Medicine we have grown up with
Not only are body systems completely different, so are the philosophies and approach to health and healing.
Chinese Med has been around for thousands of years, with herbs being used, tested, and documented 2,500 years ago.
Western Med has changed and evolved rapidly over the last 100 years and relies heavily on new technologies and research to get it where it is today. Now, this is not a bad thing at all. Some of the drugs and procedures we have access to today are amazing, but they are potent and can be invasive. Surgeries for anything and everything are available, as well as stronger and more precise medications. These treatments generally start working very quickly. However sometimes, with the pamphlets full of side effects, other issues can arise.
Chinese Medicine is not a ‘band-aid’ medicine
Which will bring us to our next point. Get a headache? Pop a pain killer and drink more water. Periods not arriving on time and skin flaring up with acne each month? Start some sort of contraceptive. Constipated beyond belief? Laxatives can help that.
While all this is well and good for short term, are you going to continue taking medications that mask these symptoms? And for how long? Why are you getting headaches? Is it something to do with your pillow, or maybe iron levels are low, or perhaps stress is not helping?
Same with using contraception for everything but contraception. When you stop taking it, what will happen to your cycle and those other symptoms? Clinical experience tells us it will go back to how it was before. Chinese Med not only works on the symptoms, but also the underlying issues. My aim is to make sure you don’t have recurring issues.
How long you have been dealing with the issue can dictate the treatments needed
If a client comes in with a case of constipation which they have been suffering with over the past 3 months, we’re more likely to see less of this person than say someone who is in their 30s suffering from period pain which they have had all their bleeding life. If your symptoms and issue is chronic, then you can’t expect a medicine to get to the root of the issue with one session.
Sure, Western Med can be used to mask symptoms, but once again, how long do you want to be taking these medicines? The longer you have suffered the more time it will take to heal.
Chinese Medicine is holistic
Western Med has now been researched so much that they have split the body systems into separate entities and have specialists working on them. Pretty amazing and super handy if you need to get extensive testing done for more rare conditions. However, your awesome body may have seperate systems, but they all work with one another.
It has only been over the last few years that Western Med has made the connection between the digestive system and the neurological system. Healthy gut, healthy mind.
Chinese Med looks at every part of your bod as one whole. That is why, when you are having issues with hormones we will needle your ankles, or digestive issues, your legs. Neck pain, needles into your arms and feet. Chinese Herbs work on many different organ systems too. We need them to work together to ensure a healthy balance.
You get homework and you need to do it
Look, we get it.
When you are suffering from an illness, being productive is hard. Especially any of you who suffer from chronic issues. ‘Just give us a pill and be over all ready!’ In some cases that will still just be masking the symptoms and not actually fixing the problem causing these symptoms.
On top of treatments you will get homework to do. It can be simple lifestyle changes like sorting out your sleep hygiene, or maybe some dietary advice, what foods to incorporate and avoid, or doing amazing little Chinese Med life hacks like foot baths and wearing socks (must stay warm!).
If you want your results faster, then you need to play along. The medicine can only do so much for you. If you aren’t willing to change some things are you actually wanting to heal? (Big question to ponder and reflect on!)
‘So how many treatments do I need?’
Excellent question. Of course there is no correct answer, but we know for sure it isn’t one session. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is an individualised medicine. So even if I were to see ten different patients for premenstrual headaches, we would treat them all separately, different acupoints, different herbs, different homework. Since this question is a little like asking how long a piece of string is, no exact answer can be given, but we have some basic guidelines for the common issues we see in clinic.
Cosmetic Acupuncture – approx. 6 to 12 sessions, once a week
This will depend on your age, how badly your skin is damaged, and if there are any other issues such as cystic acne, rosacea, and eczema. Once you are digging the results, the appointments can be dropped down to fortnightly, then monthly, and then you can come in when you are feeling like you need a top up.
Musculoskeletal pain – approx. 8 sessions, once a week
Generally we see pain start to clear up a lot quicker than other issues in the clinic, however we want to work on the root of the issue and that is what takes a little longer. Strengthening the organs that are related to the part of the body which is in pain is important.
Anything hormone related – minimum 12 session, once a week
Anything to do with periods needs three months minimum. Even if period pain starts to lessen, or your period comes back after a couple of sessions, doesn’t mean it is going to stick. Just like tracking your ovulation, Acupuncture works best for period issues when we see you for 12 weeks.
Fertility issues – until you fall and stay pregnant and then some
If you are really struggling to fall pregnant, this will be a long road for you. And it is super common and normal. Remember, that people who are highly fertile later in life still might take up to 18 months to fall pregnant. If there is a history of miscarriage then you will want to continue treatments during your pregnancy to keep you calm and in safe hands. We can also assist with labour induction and postnatal care. Consider Chinese Med as your new buddy through this time in your life!
Remember, we don’t actually want you coming in all the time, we want you to see and reach the results you are after. So if we don’t budge your illness, we will do everything in our power to make sure you get the results you are wanting. But hey, if you are loving the Zenned out feeling and the complete relaxation that comes with being needled, by all means, come on in!