Top myths about acupuncture debunked

Ancient medicine for modern times

If you or someone you know suffers chronic pain, give us a call today (425) 686-4498 to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can help.

Acupuncture for balancing sleep cycles


Top myths about acupuncture you should stop believing right now

I have found in my years of clinical practice many people have questions about acupuncture.

Does it work?

How does it work?

Is it woo woo?

I LOVE talking about acupuncture and debunking the common myths about acupuncture! I believe so strongly in the medicine and I know it works! From my own personal journey in discovering acupuncture, helping me to heal IBS and chronic pain then leading me on a career change to become an acupuncturist and helping hundreds of people get relief from chronic symptoms that Western Medicine had failed them.

Acupuncture can treat migraines

Acupuncture works.

It is one of the oldest medical systems that is still around and going strong. Helping treat and cure people of ailments dating back 3,000 years! That is a system of medicine that has stood the test of time and the even better part, it aids in helping the people without side effects!!!

Say, what?!

You can get treatments that don’t cause side effects?! Yes, please!

Many critics of acupuncture believe that since research studies cant “prove it works” that it doesn’t (I will discuss more about that below). That is such a narrow view of medicine. I believe this is why there are so many myths about acupuncture out there.

What I have to say about that statement is something that is not talked about in Western medicine, when their treatments fail. I have seen in my years treating patients that have horrible and debilitating side effects from medications that were found initially to be “safe” but years later to be harmful. How are people supposed to trust that medicine? Most recently in the news was aspirin! Another example is what they found about Accutane and recently that Lisinopril (the blood pressure medication) increased risk for lung cancer! The inconsistency is with Western medicine drugs, not with acupuncture.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has stayed consistent, only thing that has changed is its awareness and popularity.

Today, a growing body of research on acupuncture is going a long way to prove the efficacy of acupuncture for a variety of afflictions, and the practice is growing in popularity.

If you’re one of those people still on the fence, take a closer look at these five prevailing myths about acupuncture before deciding it’s not for you.

Top five myths about acupuncture:

Myth one: Acupuncture hurts

I get this. Nobody likes needles and most people don’t even consider acupuncture because they have a fear of needles. As my patients know, I don’t even refer to acupuncture needles as needles, I call them points. Why? Because people don’t even feel them AT ALL.

It’s understandable to think being pricked with multiple needles will be painful or at least uncomfortable. In the West, our experience with needles is primarily through getting shots with hypodermic needles. Those needs are significantly larger than acupuncture needles, which are only about twice the diameter of a human hair. Tiny! Acupuncture needles are also extremely flexible and can bend to a 90-degree angle without breaking. The #1 thing my patients report on their first acupuncture experience is “wow I didn’t even know you put the points in already” and “that was nothing.” These myths about acupuncture debunked!

Key: Don’t let your fear of “needles” get in the way of finally treating your chronic pain.

Acupuncture for treatment of many health conditions

Myth two: Acupuncture only works to treat pain.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In Asia, acupuncture is used to treat just about everything, and stateside, research is showing it alleviates a multitude of ailments. Acupuncture has been shown to help everything from headache, seasonal allergies, IBS to arthritis. Some hospitals are now offering acupuncture to help alleviate stress and anxiety in the emergency room, and the U.S. military is using acupuncture on the battlefield to help with PTSD.

Read our previous post here on all the lesser known things acupuncture can treat.

Myth three: Acupuncture doesn’t really work: it’s just a placebo effect

Over the past decade, scientific studies have come a long way in disproving this claim. This might be the most common myths about acupuncture. Most studies today test the efficacy of acupuncture treatments by performing true acupuncture on a portion of the study participants and sham acupuncture on another group. The sham acupuncture, placing needles in people at random points rather than known acupoints, is meant to test the strength of the placebo effect in acupuncture. Several studies have found that while people in both groups report some change (pain relief, less nausea etc. depending on the study), the group that receives true acupuncture consistently reports more significant change, for a longer period of time, and system-wide change rather than just localized effects where the needles are inserted.

In May 2018, the Journal of Pain published a study that looked at acupuncture and chronic pain using data from nearly 21,000 patients. In their study, patients who received sham acupuncture did not see significant changes in their pain whereas the group that received true acupuncture did, adding to the body of evidence showing acupuncture cannot be explained away by the placebo effect. If you read the rest of my blogs, you will find that most I summarize journal articles about acupuncture. You will find that most show acupuncture works and is not a placebo effect.

Myth four: Acupuncture works miracles: it only takes a couple treatments to cure you

I so wish acupuncture worked like this! Many patients come thru my office as a last resort. They are so frustrated that all their previous therapies have not worked and hoping acupuncture can help. What many think is acupuncture is like the “magic pill” a “one and done” treatment. The truth is that acupuncture works on a cumulative basis, just like building muscle or losing fat by going to the gym. You can’t expect to go to the gym once and look like The Rock. It takes time. And depending on how long you’ve been dealing with your ailment, it may take quite a bit of time and multiple treatments. There are no instant fixes when it comes to health.

Acupuncture for treatment of chronic pain


If you or someone you know suffers chronic pain, give us a call today (425) 686-4498 to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can help.

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist in Bothell, WA at her practice Starting Point Acupuncture. She specializes in chronic and complex cases and commonly treats neuropathy, fibromyalgia, migraines, autoimmune, and infertility cases. Dr. Ellie Heintze is also the author of the book, A Starting Point Guide to Going Gluten-Free  and Keep Calm and Zen Out available on Amazon.


Call or Schedule Now! (425) 686-4498

Call or Schedule Now!

(425) 686-4498

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc

  • Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
    Bastyr University
  • Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
    Bastyr University
  • Master’s Degree in Chemistry
    Northern Arizona University
Dr. Heintze Acupuncturist and Naturopathic Doctor

Search Through The Doctor's Blog

Acupuncture Benefits For