What is acupuncture?
- In your own words, what is acupuncture and how does it work?
As always there is a long answer and a short one. To break it down into my elevator speech I would explain it as this. We are all made up of flesh and bones and we basically run on a very low voltage current. You may know that when people’s hearts aren’t good they often get a ‘pacemaker’, this is basically an electronic device to run timed current through someone’s heart to keep good rhythm. Acupuncture works on currents in our muscles. When you put in a steel needle (which doesn’t hurt by the way!) it conducts current and changes the flow of that current. It helps to reset an upset current system if you will, in the body. Kind of like ‘Ctrl + Alt + Delete’ on your computer when it doesn’t work. It is a gentle form of body reset, to improve health and help you relax.
- Acupuncture therapy is used to help with things such as skin conditions and anti-ageing, digestive issues, inflammation, immune deficiencies, pain management, fertility, and even depression. What’s your take on this? Do you think there’s enough evidence to back its effectiveness?
This is a great question. And to answer it fairly I think everything has its place. What I mean by this is that acupuncture can definitely not treat everything. For example, western medicine absolutely excels in emergency management, there is no doubt. For pain conditions, there are many reliable studies showing that acupuncture is very effective and often superior to pain relief medication. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises 28 conditions in which acupuncture has been shown to improve through research, which include allergic rhinitis, side-effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, headache, neck pain, knee pain etc. The scope of acupuncture extends way beyond this list, however more funding and further studies are required to offer a larger body of evidence.
- In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of acupuncture therapies?
Personally, and I may be bias to this, there are very few con’s to trying acupuncture. I would recommend finding a qualified therapist above all. On the rare occasion you may bruise from an acupuncture needle, and if you’re scared of needles, it may not be the therapy for you. However, I always find the positives out way the negatives. Pro’s wise, I can’t say enough. In 15 years of experience with patients, I am still amazed at the results that are before me some days.
- Would you recommend acupuncture therapy to anyone? Why/why not?
I am totally bias here, so yes, I would recommend acupuncture to anyone. I have treated 6 year olds to 90 year olds. Most people have a mild aversion to needles, especially from the traumas of childhood tetanus shots in primary school – lining up and seeing all your friends clutching their arm, wincing! And that was me too, but seriously, the needles are probably 100 times thinner than a match stick, they really don’t hurt, it’s 90% in your mind.
- Is it safe? Any risks that you’re aware of?
If your practitioner is qualified and experienced there is a very low risk of side effect. Side effects may vary from bruising to feeling dizzy after a treatment, especially if you have low blood pressure or haven’t eaten. But again, these are rare. All acupuncturists must be registered through the government body AHPRA, just the same as other allied health practitioners. Every practitioner must also use single use, disposable, sterile needles that are only exclusively used on you, then incinerated.
- Do you think acupuncture is a good alternative to medicine and other treatments? Or even as a co-treatment?
Acupuncture is often referred to as Complementary or Alternative Medicine (CAM). This means it can be either used alone to treat a condition or alongside another medicine. I believe it is best to keep in contact with your GP and consult with them as you Primary Care Practitioner (PCP). As with anything, common sense and a somewhat conservative approach is often best. In conditions such as knee pain, hay fever, or back pain for example, that is un-responding to other therapies, why not try acupuncture? I don’t think it would last in China for over 5,000 years if at least a couple of people benefitted along the way!