Annapolis Doctors of Acupuncture & Integrative Healing
115 Annapolis Street, Annapolis, MD  21401
(410) 263-2228 office

Frequently Asked Questions

How did I (Dr. Kim) get into Acupuncture?

It was an interesting journey!  Back in 1993 I had been working in medical research (you can find my research on Pubmed) and thought acupuncture was type of voodoo medicine (thinking it wasn’t real) with placebo effect.  However, I had been riding horses and a huge farm, where they had very expensive show horses.  When the horses would go lame the farm manager would call in an acupuncturist.  I thought they were crazy, but also was curious wondering why.  I’d observe the practitioner put needles in the horses and after she removed them the horse would get up and run off as if there was no more pain!  It occurred to me that the horse doesn’t make up stories.

A few years later I met and married a paramedic.  When I would throw out his back he would see an acupuncturist since he believed that surgery would cause him to lose his abilities to do his job.  He would leave the house in so much pain and come home and show me he could touch his toes without bending his knees.  It was amazing.  I was becoming a strong believer!

Years later, I discovered an ad for an acupuncture school called Tai Sophia Institute and decided to investigate.  When I went there I observed treatments and was extremely impressed how it was totally different than doctor’s appointment and felt the patients were totally held (even though it was a group observing).  It occurred to me that I really felt that was where I belonged and this was what I really wanted to do with my life.

I was so very right to listen to my internal voice and now I love with I do!

Is Acupuncture Placebo Effect?

Placebo is an interesting question.  It attempts to explain if what is really happening is just in the mind.  This concept has been used for approximately a century in medical research.  Not until recently however, has medical research attempted the concept of Placebo effect alone since they are beginning to notice Placebo alone is a treatment in itself.  An example of this type of research follows; if a group of patients are given a ‘sugar’ pill and the second group is given an aspirin.  Then each of those groups are divided in half.  Half of each group is told they were given a ‘sugar pill’ and others half was told they got an aspirin (this is 4 groups total).  The researchers are finding that the patients who were told they had an aspirin, even though ½ got a ‘sugar pill’, felt better.  However, the ½ that were told they got a ‘sugar pill’, even though ½ got an aspirin, didn’t feel much improvement.1 This is a simplified explanation of the results, but you can read the whole research article if you are interested.  The research explains that Placebo happens in ALL aspects of medicine.  Meaning, we can convince ourselves about the efficacy/in-efficacy of ANY type of treatment. 

On a personal note; It took me a while to notice the effects of acupuncture treatments and by then I was attending acupuncture school.  I would estimate I had about 10 treatments until I noticed the effect and experienced the qi (rivers of energy) in my body.  We all make up stories about what works or doesn’t, and I was extremely hard headed as a former medical researcher.  I’ve learned to let go of the stories in my head (though it is a constant practice), and take each moment as it comes (living in the present).

Also, read my above article (‘How did I get into acupuncture?’), as my first exposure to acupuncture was with horses, who don’t make up stories and only know when they feel better.

The short answer:  Yes, acupuncture has a placebo effect, like all aspects of any type of medicine.

Reference:  Colagiuri B., Schenk L.A., Kessler M.D., et al.  (2015) The placebo effect: from concepts to genes.  Journal of Neuroscience 2015, Oct 29; 307: 171-190.  Published online 2015 Aug 10.  Doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.08.017.  PMID: 26272535

Does Acupuncture Hurt?

This is a very common question as there is a fear of needles.  However, that fear is based on hypodermic needles which are commonly used in western medicine.  Hypodermic needles are completely different as they are hollow with a blade at the tip.  Hypodermic needles are meant to extract something (like blood) or inject something (like a shot).  Though people often complain about the fear of needles, they still allow medical practitioners to draw blood and give shots as they feel strongly that those practitioners are helping them stay healthy.  

An acupuncture needle is solid and blunt.  They don't have a blade as they don't cut through tissue, rather they slip between cells to get to the "Qi" (the rivers of energy which runs through the body), at a specific point (we call acupuncture point).  The width of the acupuncture needle is similar to a cat's whisker.  They are so thin that 20 acupuncture needles could fit into the smallest hypodermic needle.

There is also a misconception that acupuncture works by putting needles into nerves.  This is absolutely untrue.  In fact, if that was the case, NO ONE would want to get an acupuncture treatment!  The TRUTH is, we are accessing the "Qi" (rivers of energy which runs through the body) and the feeling can at times feel electric, as we are working with energy.  Each point has a specific purpose, so it may even be surprised that you come to get treatment on your head (as an example), but the practitioner may put a needle in your foot).  This all depends on your practitioner's treatment strategy.

There are also certain points which may be more intense than others.  However, the pain will dissipate quickly and the overall feeling is relaxing and calm.  Many times patients will sleep through their treatment and that is perfectly fine.

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115 Annapolis Street
Annapolis, MD  21401
(410) 263-2228 office

 

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