Friday, September 28, 2012

You don't have to believe in Acupuncture for it to work

I heard a question recently: "Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?"
The answer is... no! (do I hear a sigh of relief?)

Here's one sign: acupuncture works amazingly well on animals. That's probably because they don't have thoughts like "I reallly hope this acupuncture helps my hind leg." or "Man, this person's voodoo needles better have extra good voodoo in them." Nope - they just lay there, let a needle slide right in, then get up and get on with the rest of their sniffing-eating-pooping-sleeping day.

More and more research shows that the placebo affect is all around us. Placebo means "A substance containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient's expectation to get well." The key word here is expectation - that means a person chooses to believe a placebo and increases their own expectation of getting better. For example: In a clinical trial, a person who is given sugar pills may choose to believe they will feel better....and sometimes they do. For that person, does it matter what the pill was made of? Another example: Some people choose to believe that prayer will heal them....and sometimes it does. Does it matter whether the act of prayer or God him/herself has been proven to heal? In the same vein, it doesn't matter whether you believe acupuncture is a placebo or science or magic. What matters is feeling better.

Acupuncture is not a belief system. It's tiny stainless steel needles that go into skin (and a beautiful, complex system of medicine, of course....which is why it's taken me 3 years to study how to put needles in skin). The needles I put into your skin don't rely on, don't harm, and don't affect any religious, philosophical, theoretical, scientific, or other belief systems you may have.

So rest assured, you can get acupuncture and still believe in unicorns....or whatever suits your fancy.