Acupuncture: Consistency Required

by Jesse Andreas, L.Ac.

With any endeavor in life, the road to success has two critical elements: a system that works, and the willingness follow the system for long enough to get the results we are looking for. If we intend to follow a diet for weight loss, we need an effective program, and we need to stick with it long enough to see results. Finding the road that leads to our destination is essential, but it is not enough; we must keep moving along that road until we arrive.
For thousands of years, acupuncture has proven itself to be an effective system of health care, treating not only pain, but many other health conditions as well. The most common reason someone does not attain the results they are looking for is that they do not receive treatment often enough, or for a long enough period of time to receive the full benefit of acupuncture. We should adhere to the course of treatment recommended by the practitioner.
Most of us have been prescribed antibiotics at some point in our lives. The doctor instructed us to follow a complete course of treatment, to take the pills every day for 10 days, even after we felt better. This ensured the results would last. If we took the pills for a day or two, then stopped because we felt better, we may expect the sickness to return. This does not mean that the medicine was ineffective, it means we didn’t use it properly. The same applies to acupuncture. In order to achieve lasting results we need to follow through with a full course of treatment. The course of treatment will vary depending on the condition being treated, and the patient’s overall state of health.
The effects of acupuncture treatments are cumulative, with each successive treatment building on the one before it. Often after a treatment, a patient will report that they felt relief for a few days, and then their symptoms started to return. This means the treatments are working, and acupuncture is a viable treatment option for them. The next step is to make sure that they get enough treatments, in an appropriate time span in order for their bodies to fully heal.
The more treatments they get, the more the severity of symptoms will lessen; they will experience more symptom-free days, until they reach the point where their body is strong enough to heal completely. Chronic conditions do not develop overnight, and they take some time to reverse. The goal is a result that lasts, not a temporary relieving of symptoms.
In China, acupuncture is performed with much greater frequency than in America. Patients in China may get acupuncture every day or every other day for several weeks and successfully achieve lasting results. In American culture this is not always practical, so patients usually get treatment once or twice per week. This method still produces results, it just may take a bit longer.
As a general rule, we should be prepared to allow one month of regular treatment for every year we have been dealing with the condition. We want patients to approach their treatment with realistic expectations, and that rarely means complete healing in two or three visits.
This is truly an amazing medical modality. Acupuncture safely and effectively deals with many health conditions we face today, and it is our sincere hope that all who can be helped by this medicine are able to make proper use of it.

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