10 Myths About Acupuncture, Debunked!

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that has been used for thousands of years.

It involves the insertion of very tiny needles through your skin at strategic points on your body.

In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is a technique that balances the flow of energy (Qi) throughout your body. Essentially, by inserting needles in specific points along your meridians, practitioners are able to rebalance the flow of Qi.

However, despite its popularity, there are still many myths and misconceptions about acupuncture.

In this article, I will debunk 10 common myths surrounding acupuncture.

Myth #1: Acupuncture is painful

This is not entirely true. Sure, it does involve sticking needles into your body and while some people may experience some slight discomfort during the treatment, acupuncture is generally not that painful. Granted, there will be a slight pinch during the set-up but a deep relaxation typically occurs within minutes.  In fact, most people find the treatment very relaxing and therapeutic.

Myth #2: Needles for acupuncture are the same size as needles used in various medical procedures

This is false. The average acupuncture needle is as thick as human hair, ranging anywhere from .13mm to .25mm in diameter. They are single-use surgical-grade stainless steel filiform needles that are sealed in a sterile pack before use.

Myth #3: Acupuncture is just a placebo effect

While the mechanisms of acupuncture are not fully understood, research has shown that acupuncture can produce real physiological changes in the body. In fact, a breast cancer study at the University of Pennsylvania found that acupuncture helps decrease the amount of pain patients experience from medications. Likewise, both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognise acupuncture as a valid form of medical treatment.

Myth #4: Acupuncture is only useful in treating pain

It is true that acupuncture does wonders for pain management.  However, acupuncture has been shown to reduce other side effects and conditions including headaches and migraines, depression, nausea, stress, and anxiety. In fact, it is even known to treat infertility by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs, regulating the menstrual cycle, and promoting ovulation.

So, while acupuncture can do wonders in helping treat pains, it can also treat other conditions.

Myth #5: You don’t need any training to become an acupuncturist

This is certainly not true.

For example, to be an acupuncturist in the US, you must first attend at least 3 years of graduate school that have classes that include Asian bodywork, nutrition, practice management, ethics, needle technique, acupuncture points, and western medicine. Similarly, since acupuncture is highly regulated in many countries, the WHO recommends that an aspiring acupuncturist would need to receive at least 2,500 hours worth of training in a Master’s degree program.

Myth #6: Acupuncture has many side effects

Not really. Like any medical treatment, there can be some side effects. However, they are very minimal and temporary. Some side effects include bruising or bleeding at the needle insertion site, soreness, fatigue, nausea, and fainting spells.

That said, side effects would depend on the person. To minimize even these minor side effects, talk to your practitioner so they will give you the most appropriate treatment with less possible side effects.

Myth #7: Acupuncture is only safe for certain people

Acupuncture has been shown to be beneficial for the young and the old and the healthy and the sick. In fact, acupuncture is safe even for pregnant women.

Basically, anyone can benefit from acupuncture regardless of their size, sex, race, or current physical health.

Fun fact: acupuncture can be used in animals as well! It can treat a wide range of conditions such as chronic pain, arthritis, skin conditions, digestive problems, and respiratory conditions.

Myth #8: Acupuncture treatments are expensive

This is false. Since it’s a “specialised” form of treatment, many believe that it is expensive. However, acupuncture is fairly affordable. Also, with acupuncture becoming more popular and recommended by healthcare and government organizations, more insurance companies are now beginning to offer plans that include acupuncture and related services.

Myth #9: Acupuncture is addicting

This is far from the truth. Acupuncture is not considered to be addictive. It is a safe and non-invasive form of treatment that can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including chronic pain, infertility, depression, and addiction. In fact, research shows that acupuncture, especially if used in combination with education, can cure addiction.

Myth #10: Practitioners reuse needles

Qualified acupuncture providers are required to utilize Clean Needle Technique (CNT) and must pass this exam to demonstrate appropriate sterile and clean field techniques before becoming licensed or able to practice.

Patients’ health and safety are of optimal concern in acupuncture, just like any medical procedure.


Acupuncture is a non-invasive treatment that heals a wide variety of conditions.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of understanding and misinformation, many still carry these beliefs about acupuncture.

That said, I hope that with this article, you learned more about the practice and are enticed to try it yourself.


Denisse loves reading and writing about culture, history, and politics. Outside writing articles for The Singaporean, Denisse enjoys musicals, gaming, and Harry Potter.

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