Here is Why Acupuncture Won’t Work for You

November 1, 2017, by Dr Caitlin Bree Nespoli

“I tried Acupuncture once and it didn’t work for me.”

Here is Why Acupuncture Won't Work for You

I hear this statement at least once or twice a month. I usually respond kindly stating, “I’m sorry to hear that,” but I follow that up with questions to understand why that person did not respond to treatment. It’s important for me to find out why someone didn’t respond to acupuncture because it’s usually not for the reason the person assumes. Acupuncture always works. I’m going to repeat that for impact: acupuncture always works. I found that when people say acupuncture didn’t work for them it’s for one of several reasons. I’ve listed them below so you can have a better idea why acupuncture might not be working for you!

1. You don’t follow the treatment plan that your acupuncturist prescribed for you. Normally when you first come to see an acupuncturist they recommend you come in 1-2x/week (depending on your condition) for the first few weeks and then at least once a week after that. Slowly, your treatments begin to decrease to once a month “tune-up” sessions to make sure you’re feeling healthy and any other conditions stay at bay. Acupuncturists are not doing this to steal your money, or take you away from other things that need your attention, they are doing this because they genuinely want to see you get better. I try to explain to my patients that when they come to see me that their body is energetically out of balance. When they come in for treatment, their body gets closer to being more energetically balanced. If you go too long without treatment in the beginning, your body is going to try to go right back to where it was, which was causing you discomfort and pain. Remember, you can never have acupuncture too close together, but you can have it too far apart. If you want to get better, I recommend following the treatment plan.
Acupuncturists will often prescribe nutritional recommendations or herbs as well, and these are expected to be followed as closely as possible. You as a patient have to take part in your own healing. I had a patient once that had eczema and when we went over what she ate in a day I realized the days she was having the worst flare-ups she had eaten a lot of wheat. She agreed to stay off of it for a week and with acupuncture treatments her eczema improved dramatically! When I gave her substitutes the next few weeks and told her to avoid what she was happy to agree and was feeling great. After a few weeks of getting tired of that lifestyle, she went right back to her wheat, claimed acupuncture didn’t work and was frustrated. The same can be said for herbs. Herbs are tailored to each person. Herbal medicine is not like a prescription a doctor gives you, there is no “one size fits all”. So when we ask you to take some herbs and let us know how you feel, it’s important to give us the best feedback possible and stay as strict with the herbs as possible. Perhaps there is a better formula for you, or perhaps herbs aren’t for you. If you don’t stick to the plan, I can’t help you.

2. You’re seeing a medical doctor trained in acupuncture and not a licensed acupuncturist. This makes all the difference in the world. I’m not knocking medical doctors or their understanding of acupuncture, but much of the time doctors do not have the extensive training that a Doctor of Acupuncture receives. Medical Doctors, Physical Therapists and Chiropractors can all take a 300-hour course to become certified in Acupuncture. A licensed acupuncturist is required to do over 3,000 of training at a master’s level over 3-4 years at a full-time, year-round school. Medical Doctors are able to do their “hands-on/clinical training” online, whereas licensed acupuncturists are required to do it on-site at their school. Licensed acupuncturists are required to have over 100 patient contact hours, which others are not. Lastly, L.Ac is required to pass several different National Board exams that doctors are not required to take. As an acupuncturist, I have spent years learning about each point, how patients should react to each point and how mixing and matching points can help the patients. You are just not going to get the same experience from someone who only had a quarter of the training.

3. You’re holding onto your illness/pain or there is something emotionally stuck preventing you from getting better. I often see this with elderly patients who identify with their disease. They are so used to identifying as their disease that it is all they know how to be. They are so used to going to doctors and talking about their illness that they don’t know who they would be without it. Many people find this to be a problem when they begin to see results, they are almost afraid of who they might be without their illness.

Many people also have emotional things preventing them from getting better. Whether people realize it or not, the mind and body are connected. If you are someone who is always in pain with no real answer as to why this might be the cause. Many people experience symptoms like this: vivid dreams, menstrual cramps and clots, pain, headaches and depending on the type of emotions, colds, asthma and cough. I always tell patients to find a way to release their emotions: journaling, running, walking, screaming, crying, singing. Whatever makes the patient feel their best and releases all that emotion is what is going to help them in the long run.

4. You’re not open-minded to acupuncture working. This is something that has to do with mind/body again. Now listen, I have had patients that were sceptical when they came in and easily made them see the magic and beauty of acupuncture, but they wanted to be there and they wanted to get better.

I always remember the story my professor told me about the couple he had coming in. The woman wanted her husband to come in and he wanted no part of it. He came in, barely answered any questions and expected a miracle. Even though the woman explained that acupuncture was a series of treatments, he said it didn’t work the first time and gave up all hope of acupuncture working. Going back to what we just said in the last bullet point, mind matters. You can’t have a negative mind and expect a positive result.

5. Acupuncture can be supplemental to another treatment. This one is so important! People often think that just because I am an acupuncturist I hate all kinds of western medicine and pharmacology. That is not true at all! I don’t like the fact that MD’s put patients on medications without trying other things first such as diet and lifestyle changes. Many doctors even prescribe medications to help people with the side effects of other medications! It drives me crazy!

I am a firm believer that acupuncture can cure just about anything, but I am never going to tell a cancer patient to see me exclusively. The best treatment, in that case, would be acupuncture to supplement the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
In my practice, I treat a lot of children and I absolutely love it. I’m able to confidently say acupuncture always works because children respond to the treatment every time. They don’t have preconceived notions about what medicine should be or why acupuncture might not be able to work. They just go to the doctor and come out feeling a lot better. The fact that children respond best to acupuncture shows that acupuncture really does work!

So, the next time you or someone you know tells you, “I tried acupuncture once and it didn’t work for me,” ask them a few questions and you will quickly learn why! Remember, Acupuncture always works!


If you need professional treatment, please call 0212159963 or make an appointment online here

Ponsonby Wellness Centre
Contact Us

Phone: 021 2159963
Email: ponsonbywellness@gmail.com
57 Sussex St, Grey Lynn, Auckland 1021

Opening Hours

Tue- Fri: 10am- 7pm

Sat: 9am-3pm

Sun, Mon - CLOSED