If you suffer from pain, you may choose the western way and take pills or the eastern way and get pricked by an acupuncture needle. Both methods work and have their good and bad sides. The good side of acupuncture is that it has no unwanted side effects that are common in drugs. The bad side is that you cannot prick yourself unless you have studied Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for many years.
The eastern way also works quite well in the treatment of anxiety, as a review of ten controlled medical trials has shown recently. Ear pricks in patients before and after surgery have been effective to fight anxiety, but positive effects also have been found in anxious neurotic patients.
It is hard to tell how acupuncture may be effective against anxiety. A substantial amount may be due to the placebo effect which always comes into play when mind is concerned. Acupuncture is always linked to a close contact between the therapist and the patient. The feeling of being cared of is very likely to damp anxiety. And one more point may be important: Acupuncture is something that looks like harm (being pricked) but does not really hurt. If one reason of being anxious has been overcome, other reasons may become easier to tackle. Thus, acupuncture may teach us new ways of coping with anxiety, even without being pricked.
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