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Frequently Asked Questions on Acupuncture

People are quite curious but anxious about Acupuncture. The alternative medicine has long been associated with pins and needles which is why people are afraid of trying it.

Here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions about Acupuncture as answered by Doc Philip Nino Tan-Gatue, an acupuncturist to demystify acupuncture.

1. What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture, in the narrow sense, refers to the insertion and manipulation of needles into the body, usually at set locations known popularly as “points”.  In the broad sense, it refers to a collection of procedures related to needling. The word itself comes from the latin acus meaning “needle” and pungere meaning “to puncture” and it involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles. These needles are then manipulated by hand or by electrical stimulation. Needles can be placed on sites of local pain or on pre-defined acupuncture points that lie on pathways of Qi known as “meridians” or “channels”.

2.  What are its benefits?

The most important benefit that acupuncture offers comes from the fact that it does not involve administering or taking any medication.  There are patients who, for various reasons, are unable or unwilling to take or to increase medication dose or number.  These include patients on kidney or liver failure, or simply patients who want to take less medication – pharmaceutical or herbal – to keep from “overloading” their systems. As for conditions it can treat, acufinder.com lists the following:

Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat Disorders
•    Sinusitis
•    Sore Throat
•    Hay Fever
•    Earache
•    Nerve Deafness
•    Ringing in the Ears
•    Dizziness
•    Poor Eyesight

Circulatory Disorders
•    High Blood Pressure
•    Angina Pectoris
•    Arteriosclerosis
•    Anemia

Gastrointestinal Disorders
•    Irritable Bowel Syndrome
•    Spastic colon
•    Colitis
•    Constipation
•    Diarrhea
•    Food Allergies
•    Ulcers
•    Gastritis
•    Abdominal Bloating
•    Hemorrhoids

Gynecological / Genitourinary Disorders
•    Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
•    Irregular, Heavy or Painful Menstruation
•    Endometriosis
•    Menopause
•    Fibroids
•    Chronic Bladder Infection
•    Complications in Pregnancy
•    Morning Sickness
•    Kidney Stones
•    Impotence
•    Infertility in Men and Women
•    Sexual Dysfunction

Respiratory Disorders
•    Asthma
•    Emphysema
•    Bronchitis
•    Colds and Flus

Immune Disorders
•    Candida
•    Chronic Fatigue
•    HIV and AIDS
•    Epstein Barr Virus
•    Allergies
•    Lupus
•    MS
•    Hepatitis

•    Smoking Cessation
•    Drugs
•    Alcohol

Emotional and Psychological Disorders
•    Anxiety
•    Insomnia
•    Depression
•    Stress

Musculoskeletal and Neurological Disorders
•    Arthritis
•    Neuralgia
•    Sciatica
•    Back Pain
•    Bursitis
•    Tendonitis
•    Stiff Neck
•    Bell’s Palsy
•    Trigeminal Neuralgia
•    Headaches and Migraines
•    Stroke
•    Cerebral Palsy
•    Polio
•    Sprains
•    Muscle Spasms
•    Shingles

Acupuncture Also Treats
•    Chemotherapy/Radiation Side Effects
•    Diabetes
•    Dermatological Disorders
•    Weight Control

3. What are its limitations?

In my opinion, its limitations come from the fact that it is practitioner dependent – acupuncture is not just sticking needles in.  It involves diagnosis, points selection, needle insertion and manipulation.  A certain mastery of skill is required.

Another such limitation is that it is difficult to use acupuncture for treating diseases with an obvious anatomic cause.  Treating muscle pain because of spasm is one thing, but treating an injury like a torn tendon may require surgery.

It is also good for initial stages of infections, but it’s only secondary for later, more severe infections.

4. What are the restrictions once you start undergoing acupuncture?

Generally, Acupuncture is discouraged for people who are hungry or who have just had a heavy meal.   Hemophiliacs are also discouraged from undergoing acupuncture.  Also, it is recommended that patients avoid exposure to cold right after acupuncture (maybe 2-3 hours) because this might lead to cramps and spasms.

Patients on blood thinners are NOT forbidden from undergoing acupuncture.

5. It’s summertime. What are the common ailments that can be easily cured by acupuncture?

Interestingly, summertime in the Philippines means more people turning on aircons and electric fans.  This leads to more exposure to cold and thus, more aches and pains.  Also, summer weather leads to respiratory problems such as allergic rhinitis.  I won’t say acupuncture will cure allergic rhinitis, but it will sure help in reducing it!

6. How can people who are scared of needles undergo acupuncture?

That’s just a matter of proper communication with the patient – helping them understand what they will experience and instilling confidence in the practitioner.

Doc Phil, as he is fondly called, actually held a session with me where he poked me on the arm and true to what he said, if the practitioner knew what he was doing, you would hardly feel the actual poke. When the needle is in though, it will give you this unusual feeling where you can feel the needle being moved inside your muscles but it wouldn’t hurt. It felt like a heaviness or a vibe and it wasn’t painful at all.   Now this is the kind of acupuncture that I can definitely do and live with.

Source: Doc Philip’s blog at http://acupuncture.net.ph

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