This is a common question from those of us living in the West. It should be too!

We didn’t grow up with uncles that knew something about how to knock needles into points that would turn an illness on its pivot. Our mothers didn’t brew up swampy decoctions of herbal remedies that broke fevers, straighten out upset stomachs, eased menstrual discomfort or shook off a cold before it took hold. We didn’t grow up in a culture that trusted the body to know how to sort itself out with a bit of the right encouragement.

So, does acupuncture really work? It’s a fair question, but before I get into the answer. Let’s consider this one–

Does Western medicine really work?

Once we get beyond the hypnotic effect of technology and our reverence for white coats, does Western medicine really work?

Zhongyi is good stuffGranted the surgical sophistication is unparalleled in this time or any other. And the ability to bend and twist molecules into tiny tablets is nothing short of miraculous. But, how well does it actually serve us?

Let’s look at menstrual irregularities as an example. It is true that with a hormonal lock-step delivered by birth control pills a woman’s period will arrive precisely in time with the synthetic orchestration of her hormone tide. But, these miracle pills do not address the underlying reasons for a lopsided or painful period. And if the meds are removed the problem, which never was actually treated, will quickly return. The cycle can be forced into regulation, but only through the constant chemical control of her system. So let’s ask the question again. Does Western medicine work?

Cholesterol levels are another area where pharmaceutical medicine has claimed a victory (and tremendous profits for the drug companies). Crestor, Lipator, Levacor, and others can lower cholesterol. But it is still unclear that there is a simple one to one relationship between cholesterol and heart disease. Furthermore, statin drugs are associated with kidney disease, headaches, type 2 diabetes, immune system suppression and liver damage. Long-term use of these pharmaceuticals might be swapping one problem for another. So again…Does Western medicine work?

Just like asking Google for help on the Internet it pays to precisely frame our question. The question on many of our minds is not really “does acupuncture work,” but probably something along the lines of “will acupuncture work in a time and cost effective way for my particular problem?” For a trustworthy answer to that question avoid the white coated talking heads, and try asking your friends and family who have already visited a practitioner of Chinese medicine and had acupuncture. Get the specifics on what they went for, and how it helped. You might even want to try it yourself, so you can have first hand experience.