Acupuncture Works and Isn’t Voodoo

acupuncture worksGrowing up the son of a doctor, I always held (and hold) Western Medicine in high regard. I lived in China for a summer, and ignorantly laughed a little inside at some of the traditional medicine practices I saw people following. And then my brother told me about this acupuncturist he saw, how he knew things about my brother’s health just by holding his wrist, and how much he helped my brother and his family.

As you know if you’ve read my backstory, my wife became chronically and critically ill in the summer of 2011. No one was able to figure out what was going on nor could they help her. We decided upon my brother’s urging to go see his acupuncturist. She spent an hour and a half with him, and came out in tears. The dominos literally stopped falling that day. She’s been going to him since then, as have I, and as has my son (anytime he’s been sick, it’s typically one visit and he’s better the following day).

239_14kei-0511My own experience with him wasn’t as dramatic as my wife’s, but he’s always been helpful. And he’s never been wrong, even when I thought he might be (for example, when I was certain I had a post-operative infection in my knee, and my surgeon was concerned about it, too; the acupuncturist said it wasn’t infected and needed heat – well, the cause was that I was over-icing it post-op and the tissue was getting inflamed and swollen – he was right about the lack of infection and the need for heat (or at least not ice) – and I could share at least five or six other similar examples).

So why am I writing this piece? Well, if you’ve been reading this blog, you’d know that I took a bad fall in a trail race, and subsequently heard a snap in my right calf on a run a couple of weeks later that stopped me dead in my tracks, unable to walk. I saw my acupuncturist.

The key to acupuncture is to let any skepticism leave you. If you don’t think it will work, it won’t. Why? At its essence, acupuncture is about freeing up the pathways within the body so it can heal itself. The energy of your body gets blocked by injury, illness and emotion, and acupuncture helps open the channels for it to blow and bring healing to the places that need it most. In fact, there is a lot of work going into the idea that emotional obstacles are at the root of all pain, which, if true, suggests that acupuncture and other non-medicine/non-surgical interventions are extremely likely to work. The practice of back surgeon Dr. David Hanscom is rooted in this idea, and he’s been incredibly successful treating back pain without surgery. Yes, he’s a back surgeon who does most of his healing by not cutting people. You can learn more in his book, Back in Control (buy it on Amazon to help support this site).

[tweet_box design=”box_12_at” pic_url=”” author=”#enlightenyourbody”]#acupuncture is about #freeing up the pathways w/in the body so it can heal itself[/tweet_box]

Words like “energy” and “healing” make some people get skeptical and call acupuncture heresy or voodoo. At a very scientific level, we are energetic beings who have both electrical and magnetic energy in our bodies. And the channels needn’t be some spiritual or otherworldly things. They can be as simple as our circulatory and nervous systems. And my acupuncturist doesn’t talk about any of this (he doesn’t really speak, actually), so there’s no pushing of any belief system involved.

So if you relax, and allow for your body to get help freeing itself to do what it does best – be well – then you can find help in acupuncture. For this injury, the impact was dramatic. One treatment with some things to do at home each day for about 6 minutes (for those who know, I had moxa points, which I just did during my Headspace medication practice) lead to an almost complete recovery of what I was fairly sure was a tear in my gastrocnemius (calf) muscle. I saw him six days after the injury (which was four days after my first visit for this issue), and all signs of injury were gone, leaving me with a muscle that I needed to treat carefully and come back to exercise smartly (as I wrote about here).

[tweet_box design=”box_12_at” pic_url=”” author=”#newbodies”]Keeping an #openmind is a clear path to #enlightenyourbody[/tweet_box]

I wanted to share this experience because I do get funny looks when I tell people where I usually turn when I have an injury or illness. I truly believe in trying to be open minded, especially when things may be helpful (that’s why I’m vegan, after all). Keeping an open mind is a clear pathway to enlighten.your.body.

About bryan falchuk

bryan falchuk is the founder of, a certified personal trainer, behavior change specialist and the best-selling author of "Do a Day". bryan coaches people on their whole health - the physical, mental and emotional combination of wellness that we need to thrive and change our lives.

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