For most of the patients we work with, one of the most appealing aspects of alternative medicine is the generally low risk of side effects. These therapies are much less likely to damage healthy tissues or induce toxicity than traditional cancer treatments.
However, according to an article in the newest issue of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, acupuncture, one of the most commonly used alternative cancer therapies, can cause certain side effects if performed incorrectly.
The study reviewed 167 articles published in Chinese medical databases over a 44-year period. Throughout that time, 1,038 patients experienced adverse reactions to acupuncture treatments. The most common included:
The researchers determined that while these side effects had the potential to be a significant threat, they are possible to avoid.
They identified the three main causes of the side effects, and with careful consideration by both the patient and the practitioner, it is fully possible to avoid them.
What You Can Do to Avoid Adverse Reactions to Acupuncture
The researchers identified three major contributing factors to these side effects: the mental tension of the patient, improper operation by the doctor and incomplete sterilization practices. Each of these three factors can be addressed by simple research and preparation. To help reduce your risk of adverse reactions to acupuncture, consider the following steps:
On the other hand, licensed acupuncturists undergo more than 2,000 hours of masters-level training at an accredited institution. Licensed acupuncturists must pass a national certification examination, and by the time they receive their license, they have already treated at least 250 patients under their trainer’s supervision. Licensed acupuncturists must also take continuing education classes to stay up-to-date on safety procedures and acupuncture techniques.
While both types of acupuncturists can capably perform the procedure, licensed acupuncturists are more likely to know which methods are safest and most effective.
Many acupuncturists use disposable needles to avoid the need for sterilization altogether. Disposable needles come in sterilized packaging and are discarded after each patient’s acupuncture session. You can ask the acupuncturist before the appointment whether they use disposable needles.
While it’s important to follow these steps for a safe acupuncture procedure, it’s also important to remember that adverse reactions are relatively rare. Over the course of the 44-year study, just over 1,000 adverse reactions were reported in China, a country where Eastern medicine techniques often lie at the heart of medical treatment.
Have you tried acupuncture? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook.