Acupuncture as Preventative Medicine
This article is authored by our collegue Paul Mosier.
Acupuncture is useful more than just during times of illness or pain. It is also useful as preventive medicine.
I think it’s worth taking a little time to dig into the definition of preventive medicine. When MDs discuss preventive medicine they are usually using the term wrong. Examples of preventive medicine that you hear in doctor’s offices are things like yearly mammograms – things that you do to screen for problems. This is not actually preventive medicine; it is early detection. Now I am not saying that early detection is bad – far from it. But I want to make a distinction between early detection and true preventive medicine.
Preventive medicine can be one of two things:
Getting treatment for an intermittent condition that you have before it flares up, so that it doesn’t flare up, or
Getting treatment for a condition you don’t have, to ensure that you don’t get it.
Looking above at my second definition some of you might be asking a very important question. If we’re getting acupuncture (for example) to prevent getting ill, how do we know if the treatment is doing anything, or if we never would have gotten sick in the first place? The answer is actually quite easy. Acupuncture, as preventive medicine, still has effects that we can measure. When you get treated preventively you should have more energy and feel more relaxed through the week. You should be sleeping better and waking more rested. You should be noticing that you are feeling better than you were before. In this way, the boost acupuncture is giving you is helping you stay healthy, and you know it.
This boost to your well-being is what medical providers and others in the health care field mean when they use the term wellness. From scientific medicine’s standpoint, there isn’t a good way to define ideal health – they can only define the absence of disease. Wellness is the opposite of this. Wellness is the continual increase in energy and vitality that acts as a buffer against the onset of chronic pain and illness. It is what acupuncture gives you.
I suspect some people are uncomfortable with the idea of getting weekly preventive acupuncture, but this type of care doesn’t have to be a regular thing. Some patients come for treatment when the seasons change – for example, when trees start pollinating, or when the weather gets colder in autumn. Other patients will come in for a few weeks before they travel. Others who are trying to avoid flare-ups in their aches and pains will come in once a month after their pain is under control.
Just as exercise, good sleeping patterns, and good diet can help you stay healthy, so too can regularly being in touch with your body and mind. In this, acupuncture is an extremely valuable tool. Won’t you consider it for yourself?