The Truth About Acupuncture

Acupuncture:
 The
 Needle
 in
 the
 Haystack 
of 
Western
 Medicine

OPINION

Michelle Rumery

Have 
you 
experienced, for
 two 
weeks 
or 
longer,
 sleep 
or 
appetite
 disturbances?
 Feelings 
of 
worthlessness, 
guilt, 
or 
despair?
 Gain 
or 
loss 
of 
weight or 
a
 diminished 
ability
 to
 concentrate?

This
 is 
a
 relatively 
accurate
 description 
of 
an 
average 
two 
weeks
 in 
my 
life,
 and
 undoubtedly,
 many
 other
 young 
adults.
 Some
 might
 nonchalantly 
articulate
 this 
 with 
a 
brief 
“*FML”
 status
 update 
on 
their 
Facebook,
 but 
mention 
these
 symptoms
 to 
a 
medical
 professional, 
and 
you 
would
 have 
just  identified 
the 
 central 
indicators 
of 
depression.

Depression
 and 
anxiety 
often 
go 
hand 
in 
hand, 
and 
are 
the 
most 
common 
mental
 health 
problems 
in 
young
 people; 
with 
20 
percent 
experiencing 
such 
illnesses 
by
  the 
time
 they 
reach
 adulthood. 
According
 to 
the 
Australian 
Institute of 
Health
 and
 Welfare’s 
biennial 
report
 released
 earlier
 this
year,
 between
 2008 
and 
2009
  there
 were 
12.3
 million 
prescriptions 
written 
for 
antidepressants
‐ 
a 
46
percent 
 rise
 since 
such
 data 
began
 to 
be 
collected
 in 
1997.

In 
my 
opinion,
 the 
stigma 
attached 
to 
these 
mental
 illnesses, 
has 
been 
weakened
 to 
the 
extent 
that 
they 
are 
now 
considered 
the 
common
 colds 
of 
psychology.
 For
 want 
of 
a 
better 
word,
 they
 appear 
to 
be 
a 
trend.

I
 distinctly 
recall 
the 
phase
 in 
senior
 high 
school,
 where 
flashing
 the 
latest
 Prozac
  equivalent 
was 
what 
the 
iPhone
4 
is 
to 
today’s
 university 
students – 
increasingly
 popular 
albeit 
a 
little
 unconvincing.

In 
no 
way
 do 
I 
discount 
mental 
illness.
 I 
am 
more
 than aware 
of 
its 
devastating
 severity.
 What 
I 
do 
take 
issue
 with 
is 
the 
current
 culture
 where 
mental
 illness,
 namely 
depression
 and 
anxiety,
 is 
considered
 a 
biochemical 
glitch
 that 
can 
only
 exclusively 
be 
cured
 by 
means
 of 
prescribed 
pills.

The 
words 
“alternative 
medicine” 
rarely 
appear 
in 
discussions 
regarding
 mental
 health
care.

Admittedly,
 I 
was 
skeptical
 when 
I 
first 
began 
receiving 
acupuncture. 
But 
one
 must 
take 
into 
account
 that 
acupuncture 
has 
been 
in 
use
 for 
over 
2000
 years,
 compared
 to 
the 
few
 decades 
that 
prescription 
anti depressants 
have 
been
 circulating.

My 
acupuncturist, 
Gary,
 began 
my 
treatment 
by 
monitoring 
the 
three 
pulse
 points 
in 
each 
of 
my 
wrists. 
In 
the 
left, 
there 
is 
a
pulse
point
for
the
heart,
gall
 and
liver,
one
for
the
bladder,
and
one
for
the
kidney
and
small
intestine. On
the
 right
beats
a
pulse
for
the
lungs
and
chest,
the
spleen
and
stomach,
and
for
the
 kidney
and
large
intestine.

The
depth,
speed
and
strengths
of
these
pulses
indicate
“patterns
of
disharmony”
 within
the
body.

He
was
terrifyingly
accurate
-
from
pinpointing
the
stomach
bug
I
had
suffered
 the
week
prior
and
my
irregular
sleeping
patterns,
to
a
recent
panic attack
and
 emotional
disturbances.

One
point
to
acupuncture,
zero
to
my
skepticism.

Gary
does
not
disregard
western
medicine,
but
merely
acknowledges
its limitations:
“In
western
medicine,
there’s
a
pill
for
everything.
But
for
every
pill
 there’s
a
side
effect,
and
then
that
side
effect
becomes
the
problem,
for
which
 there
then
needs
to
be
another
pill…”

Depression
and
anxiety
indicate
that
a
patient’s
brain
is
unable
to
function properly,
largely
due
to
an
imbalance
in
serotonin
levels
(the
chemical messenger
for
nerve
signals).
The
most
common
antidepressants
prescribed
are
 called
Selective
Serotonin
Reuptake
Inhibitors
(SSRIs),
such
as
Prozac.

Essentially,
these
alter
levels
of
serotonin
in
the
brain.
However,
common
side effects
include
apathy,
emotional
numbness
and
feelings
of
detachment.

But
at
least
you
don’t
feel
depressed,
right?

The
problem
is,
sufferers
become
reliant
on
this
external
force.
Imagine
one’s
brain
being
bounced
around
to
happy
music
like
a
marionette.
What
happens
then,
when
the
puppeteer
goes
away?
The
marionette
was
never
encouraged to
 dance
by
itself.

In
other
words,
what
happens
when
the
pills
are
no
longer
available,
if
they
are
 missed,
or
the
sufferer
becomes
immune?
Would
it
not
be
better
to
try
to balance
 the
serotonin
levels
naturally,
as
opposed
to
chemically?

Acupuncture
enthusiasts
say
low
levels
of
serotonin
begin
with
inadequate
blood
 circulation,
poor
overall
health
and
a
weak
nervous
system.
Acupuncture stimulates
the
meridians,
or
energy
pathways,
in
the
body
with
tiny
needles.
A blockage
in
these
energy
pathways
can
produce
the
reactions
associated
with
depression
and
anxiety,
so
keeping
them
open
is
the
key
to
producing optimum amounts
of
serotonin.

Thus,
why
I
am
now
a
firm
believer,
an
acupuncture
convert,
and
a Chinese
 medicine
groupie.

I
can’t
say
that
acupuncture
is
painless.
It
does
not
sting
like
a
flu
shot,
but
rather
 aches
momentarily
in
the
area surrounding
the
inserted
needle.
But
in
the
body,
 there
are
“earth
points”
as
Gary
calls
them,
which
are
stimulated
by the
needles
 to
induce
a
sense
of
composition
and
calm.

Instead
of
my
mood
landscape
looking
like
the
Himalayas,
the
aim
of
stimulating these
points
is
to
make
the
variation
between
my
“highs”
and
“lows”
very
subtle.

Earth
points,
he
warned,
will
particularly
hurt
if
you
are
an
exceptionally sensitive
or
empathetic
person.
I
felt
like
the
most
sympathetic
and
empathetic
 person
on
the
face
of
the
planet.

My
first
earth
point,
stimulated
around
my
kidney
area,
made
my
pelvis
feel as though
it
might
plummet
through
the
table.
The
ache
was
consuming.
And
yet afterwards,
I
felt
infinitely
peaceful.
I
must
also
attribute
this
to
a
short course
of
 a
Chinese
herbal
supplement,
Gui
Pi
Wan.

I
am
naturally
highly
strung.
Before
my
first
session,
I
remember
running
to
 catch
a
train
and
missing
it
by
seconds,
consequently
bursting
into
tears.
But
 after
just
a
few
sessions
of
acupuncture,
and
for
the
first
time
ever,
I
could
consciously
recognise
a
situation
in
which
I
might
typically
experience
a
panic
 attack,
and
instead
have
an
overwhelming
desire
to
think
that
“everything
will
be
 okay.”
I
also
sleep
better
than
I
have
done
in
two
years.

While
I
am
not
saying
that
my
problems
are
entirely
solved,
one
can
imagine the
 relief
felt
after
naturally
discovering
some
form
of
emotional
balance
and stability,
without
a
chemical
in
sight.

The
duration
of
acupuncture
depends
on
how
complex
one’s
underlying imbalance
is.
Once
the
energy
pathways
have
been
opened,
and
the
depression and
anxiety
has
been
remedied,
maintenance
treatments
may
also
be required.

I
can
appreciate
that
a
40‐minute
session
of
acupuncture
is
beyond
what
some people
can
afford
to
spend
on
themselves
in
our
time‐poor
lifestyles. Swallowing a
pill
in
just
a
few
seconds
admittedly
seems
more
appealing.

I
do
not
discredit
western
medicine,
but
I
think
there
is
definitely
something in looking
at
alternative
treatment,
namely
acupuncture.
Such
a
practice
would
 simply
not
have
survived
for
thousands
of
years
if
it
were
not
effective.

Someone
suggested
to
me
that
perhaps
it
is
simply
a
placebo
effect.
Even
if
this
is
 the
case,
I
would
much
rather
a
pseudo‐composed
feeling
than
a
drug‐induced
 numbness.
At
the
very
least,
I
am
forcing
myself
to
have
40
uninterrupted
 minutes
of
tranquility
with
each
session,
and
that
alone
could
do
a
world
of
good
 for anybody.

Western
medicine
can
be
highly
effective.
All
I
am
suggesting
is
there
is
no
one‐ size‐fits‐all
solution
for
mental
illness.
We
are
all
extremely
individual, so while
 antidepressants
might
be
one
person’s
relief, 
finding
strength
in
yourself
 through
alternative
means, 
might
just
be
your
everlasting
happiness.

*FML 
­
commonly 
used 
abbreviation
 in 
social 
networking 
for
 “Fuck 
My 
Life”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: