By Sara Calabro
Some people just can’t bring themselves to try acupuncture. Despite being something they’re curious about, something they sense could be helpful, acupuncture remains an unscalable mountain. No amount of friend, physician or celebrity endorsements is enough to convince them otherwise.
Here are the top five excuses for not getting acupuncture—and why they’re not good enough.
“I’m afraid of needles.”
There’s a spectrum here. It ranges from downright needle phobics to people who are mildly disturbed by the whole voluntarily-being-stuck-with-needles thing. Regardless, the anti-needle excuse is invoked more than any other.
Depending on where someone falls on the spectrum, this will be more or less fathomable: Fear of needles can—and usually does—go away once you take the initial plunge. Many acupuncture devotees were at one point afraid of needles. What got them over it was trying it.
Most people who have never had acupuncture do not realize how thin acupuncture needles are. They do not bear any resemblance to needles that are used for injections or to draw blood. Acupuncture needles come in varying lengths and thinnesses, and some are as fine as a hair. They bend when you touch them.
If you have a fear of needles, let your acupuncturist know. Most acupuncturists stock several needle sizes and will be more than happy to use the thinnest variety at your request. Japanese acupuncture is a good option for people with needle fears since very thin needles are used. It is not uncommon to feel no needle sensation whatsoever throughout an entire Japanese acupuncture treatment.
Some of you may be thinking, “No you don’t get it. I am, like, really afraid.” There is still hope.
People with true needle phobias can ease into acupuncture with treatments that emphasize non-needling techniques such as acupressure, cupping and moxibustion. Again, Japanese acupuncture is a good option because it frequently incorporates moxibustion.
“It’s too expensive.”
This unfortunately is still a relatively valid excuse. However, recent developments are making it less and less convincing.
Some insurance companies do seem to be adding acupuncture to their benefit packages. If you have health insurance and thought acupuncture wasn’t covered, check periodically and inquire about any changes to your plan.
More promising, though: Community acupuncture clinics, which usually charge somewhere between $15 and $50 per treatment, are popping up like crazy. And at the end of last year, the community movement took things up a notch by forming the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture, or POCA, a multi-stakeholder cooperative. The formation of POCA means more money and manpower behind the effort to make acupuncture more accessible.
A listing of all POCA clinics can be found here.
“I don’t know who to go to.”
An AcuTake reader survey showed this as the second-most-common reason participants hadn’t tried acupuncture. In response to that finding, we created a first-in-class acupuncturist directory that connects you with the acupuncturist who’s right for you.
All acupuncturists in the directory share their unique stories. They talk about why they became acupuncturists, what makes them different, why they love their work, and how they stay healthy in their own lives. They even debunk common misconceptions about acupuncture.
The AcuTake Acupuncturist Directory helps you understand who an acupuncturist really is, as a professional and a person, so that you can make fully informed decisions about who to involve in your health process.
Not all acupuncturists are created equal. Find the one who’s right for you.
“It’s not scientific.” (Also known as “I don’t believe in acupuncture.”)
There is a pervasive belief in healthcare that for something to be effective it must be validated by clinical trials. This is simply not true. Nor is the opposite true, that if something is validated by clinical trials then it’s effective.
Clinical trials are to thank for many medications and technologies that have extended and improved life for countless people. That does not mean they have the answers to everything. They are merely one way of looking at efficacy.
When we fail to acknowledge this, we miss the opportunity to consider other perspectives and limit access to the therapies that might help us most.
Results from clinical trials on acupuncture are all over the place. Some say acupuncture works, some say it’s no better than placebo, some say it’s worse. This does not mean acupuncture doesn’t work. All it means is that the biomedical gold standard, which is not conducive to studying non-biomedical therapies in the first place, isn’t able to make sense of it yet.
If acupuncture is something you want to try, don’t get bogged down in research. Achieving a true state of health is not about doing something because a study said you should. It’s about becoming aware of the options and deciding what’s right for you.
“I don’t have time.”
This excuse refers to both attending appointments and waiting for results to kick in.
Regarding the first, if you can just get yourself in the door, it’ll probably be the best hour of your week. Committing to acupuncture might feel at first like a burden, but the clarity and restoration you’ll experience afterwards will help create a sense of lightness and freedom in your otherwise hectic schedule.
One hour away from the noise is a gift you deserve to give yourself.
In regard to the second time-related excuse, what can we say? Acupuncture is not a quick fix. Nor is it a one-shot deal. Acupuncture is an ongoing investment that asks us to let go of our “I want it now” impulses.
This teaches us patience. It also cultivates self-awareness. Pills force our bodies toward certain outcomes, which allows us to disconnect from the process of becoming healthy. In contrast, acupuncture prompts the body to heal itself. This requires that we listen to rather than numb the messages our bodies send.
So yes, acupuncture takes time. Time well spent.
If you’re still finding excuses, consider a final truism: You have nothing to lose. Except maybe an item on your bucket list. Go for it.
Photo by Mary Marsiglio
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