Acupuncture has long been associated with pins and needles which is why a lot of people balk at the thought of trying it. Many Filipinos are scared of the needle and having a few being poked at you to treat a sickness is not their idea of fun. Truth be told, most would choose to suffer through their illness than have some needles be stuck on them. Thankfully, Doc Philip Nino Tan-Gatue, an acupuncturist, is more than willing to shed light as to why Acupuncture is nothing to be afraid of.
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
- Sore Throat
- Hay Fever
- Nerve Deafness
- Ringing in the Ears
- Poor Eyesight
- High Blood Pressure
- Angina Pectoris
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Spastic colon
- Food Allergies
- Abdominal Bloating
Gynecological / Genitourinary Disorders
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Irregular, Heavy or Painful Menstruation
- Chronic Bladder Infection
- Complications in Pregnancy
- Morning Sickness
- Kidney Stones
- Infertility in Men and Women
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Colds and Flus
- Chronic Fatigue
- HIV and AIDS
- Epstein Barr Virus
- Smoking Cessation
Emotional and Psychological Disorders
Musculoskeletal and Neurological Disorders
- Back Pain
- Stiff Neck
- Bell’s Palsy
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Headaches and Migraines
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscle Spasms
Acupuncture Also Treats
- Chemotherapy/Radiation Side Effects
- 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. The above FAQ is taken from Doc Philip’s blog at http://acupuncture.net.ph