Busting 5 Myths About Acupuncture


By Barbara Poczyniak, R.Ac

min read

Here we cover 5 of the most popular myths around Acupuncture, and what the real facts are.

Acupuncture is just a placebo

Myth Debunked: Acupuncture has not yet been explained completely through the lens of modern science– therefore many skeptics claim it can only be a placebo. Even though it has been around for thousands of years, it still “new” to mainstream medicine’s way of thinking. 

Although the placebo effect is now recognized as an important healing phenomenon in conventional medicine, it is unfair to lump something into this category because we cannot yet fully understand how it works.  Its important to know that animals have long been successfully treated with acupuncture. 

It is common for prize winning racehorses to get acupuncture from their veterinarians – for pain, illness and recovery support. Pets and zoo animals can also find success with veterinary acupuncture, often when other options are not working. Unlike humans, they do not seek out acupuncture and are not aware of placebos. If acupuncture can work for animals, why would we still insist it’s a placebo for humans?

Once you start acupuncture you have to keep coming in forever

Myth Debunked: Acupuncture does not claim to be an ‘instant fix’, and everyone’s situation is unique. 

Although nobody (including your practitioner) can predict how long it will take you to see results, it is within everyone’s best interest to see progress early in the treatment plan. If an illness or injury is acute it may be resolved in only a few visits. But if a condition is chronic and has been going on for years, it may take months of ongoing acupuncture treatments to see major changes. However, once a patient’s condition is stable they do not have to keep coming for treatment. Usually an occasional ‘maintenance’ visit may be enough, if at all.

Like with anything else it takes some commitment for it to work, but your practitioner should provide some guidance on what to look for and what to expect as things progress. 

Acupuncture is not real medicine, they just put needles in anywhere

Myth Debunked: Acupuncture is based on a very detailed view of how the body, mind and spirit work – and how they are linked to the natural world. Although there may be many styles and systems for practicing acupuncture, the treatments are based on a very holistic, structured view.

The intricate philosophy of body systems, acupuncture point locations and functions have been studied, tested and discussed over several thousand years. There is a huge body of literature put together by experts, both ancient and living masters that have documented many thousands of case studies. There are currently numerous ongoing studies on acupuncture and new discoveries are constantly being made to help validate this ancient art and science.

You can’t donate blood if you get acupuncture

Myth Debunked:  Canadian blood donation centres such as Red Cross (Ontario) still ask the question during initial pre-screening before blood donation: “have you recently received acupuncture?” 

This question is based on outdated information.  Acupuncture practitioners in Canada must now use sterile, single-use needles that are disposed of as medical waste after each treatment.  Blood contamination is no longer an issue, as needles are not reused or recycled.  It is safe to both donate blood and be a fan of acupuncture at the same time!

Acupuncturists don’t know about western medicine

Myth Debunked: Some believe that Acupuncturists are only familiar with or believe in natural medicine, and may even have an agenda against conventional or “westernized” medicine. 

Although each individual is entitled to their own beliefs, most Acupuncturists are well versed in pathologies and illness from a western perspective, in addition to Eastern Medicine’s perspective. Much training is done on anatomy, physiology and pathology from the “western” approach, and many also seek out post-graduate training that is based on the latest evidence based medical research. 

Know that you can expect an experienced Acupuncturist to be familiar with various aspects of illness, medications and healing options from the conventional approach.  Although obviously not within our scope to practice, this deeper knowledge often informs how we approach a natural medicine plan using Acupuncture and  Chinese Medicine. 

What next?

Even if you’re not 100% sure about Acupuncture, we can discuss how it can help you and what to expect.  Book a free 15-minute consult call to get more information. 

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