Skeptics are often converted when acupuncture brings relief.

Radio rumble

Want to heat up a conversation? Just say the word “acupuncture.”

That’s what happened during a recent program on our local NPR affiliate here in Baltimore. The topic was natural medicine. But acupuncture came up with such frequency that it became a battleground issue.

There was no “winner” in this debate. I expect some listeners came away with a respect for acupuncture. I’m sure others remained skeptical.

To those skeptics I would just say this: I don’t blame you. Your skepticism is reasonable. After all, we’re talking about using needles to move energy through invisible channels in the body.

Why WOULDN’T you be skeptical?

Unless, of course, you tried it…

A tale of two skeptics

Shortly after I heard the radio debate, I came across an article by Beth Capriotti on the Philadelphia Magazine website. Beth introduces herself as a lifelong skeptic, especially concerning natural medicine. But then along came a couple of herniated disks.

Physical therapy didn’t relieve the pain. Spinal steroid injections didn’t help. Chiropractic sessions did nothing. So she finally agreed to try “that voodoo stuff” — acupuncture.

Beth: “My relief was immediate, overwhelming and lasting.”

And another skeptic bites the dust.

I enjoyed Beth’s account because it’s close to my own experience. Or rather, my beagle’s experience.

Another dog attacked her when she was a puppy. She had terrible neck and back pain her whole life.

When steroids made her incontinent, we were desperate. So I decided to try acupuncture.

I didn’t think she’d sit still for it (she did). And I wasn’t sure it would help. But for $65 and a half an hour, what did I have to lose?

Of course, there’s no placebo effect with dogs. And as you may know, beagles are particularly dramatic when they are garnering sympathy. So her response to this very first treatment was shocking. She sprang right up, jumped off the sofa and ran around like a puppy.

From that day on, she actually got excited when our acupuncturist came over for her treatment.

And another skeptic bites the dust.

I highly recommend that anyone (or any pup) with back pain, neck pain, or other nagging health problems investigate acupuncture. Pain relief without side effects might turn you into a very happy skeptic.

You can find integrative and natural medicine doctors who offer acupuncture treatments in the Find a Doc feature on our HSI website.

“Alternative Medicine” Midday with Dan Rodricks, WYPR, 10/25/11,

“Acupuncture Cures a Skeptic’s Back Pain” Beth Capriotti, Philadelphia Magazine, 10/19/11,

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