Does Acupuncture Have Side Effects?

Sometimes the unexpected happens with Traditional Chinese Medicine. I treated one patient for sciatica, and after a couple of sessions her asthma went away. Another patient came in for infertility. A few weeks later, she announced that her fibroids had shrunk.

I can safely say that patients are delighted when they come in for one thing  — and find improvement in another area.

So when people ask me if acupuncture has side effects, I say yes! But it’s not the kind of side effects you find on the label of a prescription drug bottle. Instead, these are positive side effects, the result of balancing out your body. And when you balance out the body, good things happen.

Here’s how it works: The body’s systems and organs are connected. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, we have five elements — water, wood, earth, fire and metal. Each corresponds to an organ: The bladder and kidney represent water; the gallbladder and liver represent wood; the spleen and stomach represent earth; the small intestines and heart represent fire; and the lungs and large intestines represent metal.

These elements rely on each other for balance. For instance, you can’t just have water because you would be cold, heavy and stagnant. If you only had fire, on the other hand, you’d be bouncing off the walls. When we treat a symptom, we balance the elements. So it’s no surprise that other symptoms go away.

There are a few minor things to look out for after a treatment: Some people report soreness. This isn’t a bad thing. Acupuncture stimulates the body, which can release toxins and create the same kind of effect that vigorous exercise can have.

Others report that they feel tired after a session. One of my patients told me that he went home and slept the rest of the day! This just means that you really needed the treatment. Or it could indicate that you didn’t give yourself enough time after the session to transition back into the world. So remember to take it slow. Don’t try to run a marathon! You are trying to heal, and if you use all your energy and direct it somewhere else, it’s just not wise.

The effects of a treatment are very individual. It really depends on how much you want the change, what other things you are doing in conjunction with acupuncture and how long you’ve been dealing with a certain issue. Acupuncture can work for new conditions or those you’ve had for years. Everyone is different. But in general the sooner you take care of it, the better.

I look forward to seeing you soon so you can benefit from acupuncture’s positive side effects.

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