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5 Most Common Side Effects of Acupuncture

By Sara Calabro

Forget what you’ve been told. Acupuncture does have side effects. The unintended consequences of acupuncture, while not life-threatening, should not be overlooked. The side effects of acupuncture occur frequently and can seriously impact on your quality of life.

Here are the five most common side effects of acupuncture. Consider yourself warned.

Better sleep

Insomnia is one of the most common complaints seen by acupuncturists, and acupuncture can be highly effective at resolving it. But even in people who do not recognize or mention sleep as a problem, acupuncture has a tendency to produce more restful nights. This often goes unnoticed until asked about on a follow-up visit. Many acupuncturists hear this refrain multiple times a day: “You know, now that you mention it, I have been sleeping a lot better since I started coming for acupuncture.”

More energy

Although it’s common to find yourself in “acu land”—a somewhat dazed, blissfully relaxed state—immediately following acupuncture treatment, the after effect is usually increased energy. Many people report having more energy in the hours, days and even weeks after acupuncture treatment. You may notice that you’re avoiding that post-lunch coma, feeling more motivated to hit the gym, or just sensing a little extra spring in your step.

Mental clarity

Acupuncture resolves the stagnation that causes many of us to feel physically and mentally lethargic. In addition to the surge of physical energy that follows emerging from acu land, many people notice improved mental clarity. They’re able to make decisions faster, with greater confidence. They feel more motivated and resolute about tackling items that have been lingering for months on their to-do lists. It’s as if the mental cobwebs have been cleared out. Suddenly, you’re able to get out of your own way.

Better digestion

Digestion is big in acupuncture. The organ systems and meridians that regulate digestion are intimately connected to all other structures and functions throughout the body, so a person’s digestive health says a lot about his or her overall state of health. This is why acupuncturists ask such detailed questions about eating habits and bowel movements. It’s also why getting acupuncture for shoulder pain, for example, might cause you to use the bathroom more regularly, feel less bloated after meals, and experience fewer food cravings.

Less stress

Stress reduction is a common reason for seeking acupuncture. However, not everyone admits or even feels that they have stress in their life. They’ve gotten so used to living with a certain level of stress that it has become their “normal.” It’s only in the absence of stress that they notice how stressed out they were to begin with. Acupuncture heightens our awareness such that stressful events, initially, can actually be felt more acutely. But overtime, by evening out our moods, acupuncture allows us to feel less affected by and better equipped to manage the stressful aspects of our lives.

So there you have it. The truth, once and for all: Acupuncture has side effects that can significantly influence your quality of life.

Click here to learn about more acupuncture side effects.

Photo by Sara Calabro

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Comments

Candice Thomas
Reply

Once I read the entire article of course I realized that the author was being ironic in the title and first paragraph. However, I think it was a real mistake to give an article a big bold title like that, and the first paragraph actually makes it sound like a person could expect to experience some fairly serious negative side effects. This newsletter is posted on Facebook and elsewhere, and most readers don’t take the time to read the full articles, just the headline and the first few lines that are visible. Which means it would be very easy to miss the facetious tone and completely misunderstand the author’s true intent, and instead walk away with the impression that there are common down sides to acupuncture.

Sara
Reply

Thanks for the feedback, Candice. Here’s hoping people read the article!

Sara

Robyn
Reply

Love it! I think many people who want to think there is something bad about acupuncture will open it and read it, trying to get justification. Buuuut, then they get to see how awesome it is instead! :)

Sara
Reply

Robyn, that’s the plan! :) Thanks.

Sara

Sara
Reply

The thing is that there are actually negative side-effects that can come from acupuncture. Muscle cramps, fainting, dizziness–to name a few. Don’t get me wrong, I get acupuncture weekly, and the benefits far outweigh the uncommon side-effects, but it’s not like they don’t exist for some people.

Sara
Reply

Hi Sara. Thanks for writing in.

The article was not intended (nor does it claim) to exhaustively cover the side effects of acupuncture. As you point out, negative side effects do happen on occasion. They happen much less frequently, however, than some of the positive side effects. Hence the title—the positive side effects discussed in the article are, in my and several trusted colleagues’ experience, the most common.

Thanks for reading,
Sara

Marshall Kirkpatrick
Reply

I hope my health care professional will fool me with cutesy faux-warnings that are really promotional messages! Side effects warnings are funny and a great way to build a culture of trust and respect with patients! Sheesh…

I don’t mean to be a stick in the mud, and I’ve never been particularly mistreated by a health care provider, but this seems like a joke in poor taste and, frankly, what the kids these days call “a douchey thing to do.”

Sara
Reply

Marshall,

Thanks for chiming in. Sorry the approach to sharing some of the positive side effects of acupuncture didn’t work for you. You can’t please everyone, right? I imagine a blogger of your longevity and esteem has irked a reader or two while pleasing the majority.

Sara

Kim
Reply

Geez Marshall, hate to see what you could accomplish if you *were* trying to be a stick in the mud. Fact is, these ARE the side effects of acupuncture. I know because I am an acupuncturist, and I hear these things *all the time* from people. It’s an attention getting headline, and no one is foolin’ with ya: she said there were side effects, and there are. Just because you assumed they were negative doesn’t mean that was what the headline said.

Sara
Reply

Thanks, Kim! :)

Sara

Mary
Reply

Thanks for this important article and for helping to put some much needed positive light on acupuncture in the media.

@Marshall- As a long time reader of AcuTake, I feel that your sarcasm and name calling are in “poor taste”. The title, to me, was meant to spark interest and as you move on to read the article it is very clear and not the least bit deceiving. AcuTake is a leader in helping build trust and respect for the acupuncture profession and I find your comment very off base.

meahmad
Reply

Thanks for writing and submitting this helpful article these is very helpful for every one who is related with acupuncture profession.
A side effect that I have seen in my own practice is the original symptoms worsening for a few days after an acupuncture treatment. Sometimes other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work. My teacher explained it to me like this: Acupuncture is smoothing out blocked Qi (energy) that is stuck in areas of your body. When a garden hose gets a kink in it, the water stops flowing. When you straighten the hose, the built up pressure makes the water burst out in the beginning. This is what can happen when you first have acupuncture

Sara
Reply

Great explanation and addition to the article, Dharam. Thanks for writing in.

Sara

Deb
Reply

I had my first acupuncture session yesterday. I have been dealing with chronic pain, chronic migraines and other ‘chronic issues’ for many years. After seeing many specialists treating me only for the pain by prescribing pain meds, etc. all I was doing was poisoning and making my body/health much worse. My new PCP suggested acupuncture for a minimum of 8 weeks to see if any positive changes occurred. I arrived at my appointment with my typical excruciating migraine. He inserted the first 2 needles and calmly asked, “How is your head feeling?” I could not believe it…my headache was gone. He continued with the placement of needles. I was amazed at how peaceful I felt. Today, however, I feel like I am hungover. I am also experiencing muscle cramping. This was a great informative read! Thank you very much. I was wondering if there were any ‘negative’ side effects. Thank you meahmad for explaining that side of it! That is exactly how I am feeling today! However, I can’t wait until my next acupuncture session! I was told not to expect any notable changes until the 3rd or 4th session so I was thrilled to experience a ‘positive’ at my 1st visit! Cheers to healthy healing!

Dennis
Reply

Hi guys. Good day!! Hi Sara and any acupuncturists out here.. Can this cure brain fog?. If so, within how many sittings will i notice a change in my body ?. Any inputs from you guys will be highly appreciated.!

[...] The most common side effects of acupuncture are things everyone wants: better sleep, more energy, mental clarity, better digestion and less stress. One or several of these side effects occur routinely for many, many acupuncture goers. [...]

Tina Carter
Reply

I’m being treated for frozen shoulder and my last treatment left me aching, wobbly and then I couldn’t sleep. So not great. I am a great believer in Acupuncture and usually get the positive effects described but why does this happen sometimes?

hiruthaya
Reply

your article on side effects of acupuncture instigate to go through the matter. I was surprised and with suspension to note the side effects. You have brought the reader to be curious and tell him/her the positive side effects of the Acupunture
Hiruthaya

Venkat Rajagopal
Reply

These are not side effects but the advantages
Beneficial to organs.
Venkat Rajagopal

cabinet acupunctura
Reply

Acupuncture can also help with weight loss, headaches and mood swings.
Whenever you feel these symptoms like chronic pain, fatigue, nausea, arthritis, menopausal symptoms, hot flushes, endometriosis, bladder, or bowel problems, urine allergies, and
digestive problems, you can consider acupuncture as a cure for them.
Our modern, fast-paced lifestyle and chronic stress can negatively impact the liver’s ability to function properly and smoothly, which, in turn, can cause the spleen and the whole digestive system to function poorly and decrease your metabolism.

[...] complaints, but what usually impresses male acupuncture goers even more is the stress-lowering side effects of their treatments. These men also find themselves sleeping better, experiencing fewer digestive [...]

shawb
Reply

Yesterday around had day I had acupuncture for the 2 time. I came home relaxed and rested yesterday afternoon. I went to bed in a dark room and never went to sleep, I became agitated and could not rest. I had to do something this morning and am home again now it has been a little more that 24 hours since the treatment and I cannot relax, feel agitated and tired, rest is not doing me any good. I do not know what to do. please answer.

Mary
Reply

Thanks for this information Sara. But , how effective is acupuncture in treating a stroke patient? Await your response.

Top 3 Reasons More Men Should Get Acupuncture
Reply

[…] complaints, but what usually impresses male acupuncture goers even more is the stress-lowering side effects of their treatments. These men also find themselves sleeping better, experiencing fewer digestive […]

Why All Athletes Should Use Acupuncture | AcuTake
Reply

[…] series of twice-weekly acupuncture treatments, she continued coming to see me because of the “side effects” she started noticing—reduced anxiety before competitions, greater mobility and faster […]

John
Reply

Why is acupuncture not a part of conventional medicine and is instead called alternative/complimentary medicine?

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