No therapeutic intervention, whether it be Chinese medicine, Western medicine, Ayurvedic medicine,etc., is side-effect free. One outstanding feature of acupuncture and herbal medicine is that these so-called "side-effects" are not simply viewed as negative reactions to the treatment, something to be wished away for the sake of the patient's comfort, or treated with additional herbs or acupuncture points in order to cover them up. No, any and all reactions that occur during acupuncture and/or herbal formula treatments are considered within the framework of the patient's medical history, patterns of functional disharmony occurring within them, and the progression of their condition according to the laws of Nature and the underlying principles of Chinese medicine. In other words, every change that the patient goes through, be it "good" or "bad," is useful in a diagnostic way to a properly trained practitioner of Chinese medicine. This is typically not the case during a course of treatment, long or short, with modern medicine, including drugs and/or surgery. Western medicine side-effects are typically much more intense and confusing, and are often ignored as long as the person's named/labeled diagnosis is being taken care of. Let's look at some of the potential effects of the aforementioned treatment modalities. This is in no way meant to discourage anyone from seeking Western medical treatment when it is necessary, or to scare anyone. It is simply a comparison of the potential effects of Chinese and Western medicine. Remember, these effects are not common, and more importantly, they don't all occur at once, if at all!
Side-effects of acupuncture treatment, when properly performed by an L.Ac., are virtually non-existent and mild. Herbs are a little different. With acupuncture treatments, patients almost always feels relaxed, yet energized, and of course have at least some relief from their complaints. Aside from case-specific, symptomatic relief, patients often notice an improved quality of sleep, better mental clarity, smoother digestion, etc.
Chinese herbal medicine is extremely effective and safe in the hands of a properly trained practitioner. Some side-effects may include appetite changes, loose stools, rashes, tingling of the tongue, or headache. These are quite rare and easily alleviated with slight adjustments to the formula. Also, these effects are far, far less severe than those of Western medical drugs that many patients take on a daily basis. In fact, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are often used alongside Western medicine in order to alleviate the side-effects of the latter, especially with regards to antibiotic use, cancer treatments, surgeries, etc.
The side-effects of Western drugs are often numerous, and can be a mystery to the doctor. Often, one drug or treatment therapy will have such an effect on the body as to warrant the use of another just to offset this. Side-effects vary greatly, and may include allergic reactions, dry cough, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, muscle weakness, nausea and vomiting, internal bleeding, constipation, changes in mood or sex drive, dependency, worsening of symptoms, or even death.
This page is intended to serve as a source for links to blogs and articles about acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine that both new and returning patients may find informative and/or entertaining. It is also where I will share information about the history, principles, and benefits of this awesome medicine.