Karen Philpott
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Mind Over Matter: Does It Matter?

Belief In Our Own Ability To Heal

When it comes to our health, we have many more choices now than in previous decades. More people are taking up the alternative medicine, complementary therapy and homoeopathy routes to help treat existing conditions despite the advances technology has to offer.

Acupuncture is one of the few CAM's (complementary and alternative medicines) which is used by the NHS as well as the majority of pain clinics and hospices in the UK. Also in existence is a British Medical Acupuncture Society and council

While there is clinical evidence to prove that this 'needle wheeling' therapy stimulates the nerves and muscle tissue within the body, how much of this treatment's overall success is psychological?

Very few of us would willingly allow a needle near our precious bodies for anything less than a necessary blood test; however, there are also plenty of people who are willingly to pay handsomely for a treatment where four to eighteen needles are slipped gently under the skin.


Traditionally, acupuncture is based on a belief in Qi (Chee), an energy based 'life force'. It was common understanding that blockages within the flow of this energy around the body causes illness and pain in the area of the blockage.

This ultimately suggests you have to have a belief in this unseen energy and faith in the fact that the acupuncture is actually clearing the supposed blockage to rebalance your Qi. If you add a little positive thinking you begin to feel clear and notice the original complaint less.

The reality behind the effectiveness of this belief is that if you don't believe it will work then it is unlikely to give the outcome you would expect.

We choose to believe and put confidence in something, such as acupuncture, in the same way we believe in other things.

Belief is based on our perceptions through experience of life and, as the dictionary defines, is a state or habit of mind. This suggests that we can turn a perception into reality or, on the specific subject matter, if we perceive acupuncture to give a desired outcome then it will. 

Medically, acupuncture has been through studies and found to induce the production of our natural pain relieving substances such as endorphins but only when used after proper medical diagnosis of a condition requiring such treatments.

Depending on your trust in western medicine, this may be a trusted alternative treatment for you. You are likely to require a course of sessions which will focus on areas of pain which, based on the scientific evidence, will certainly reduce or relieve your pain symptoms and requires no faith. 

If you choose the more traditional ailments to treat then acupuncture has the potential to help with fertility, allergies and eczema. There is, however, no evidence to the effectiveness of acupuncture on these areas. There is historical suggestion in ancient cultures that this does work but, in a time where scientific accuracy was limited and proof of changes to the human body was solely based on word and trust in that word. I suggest that a strong belief is generally required for this to work anywhere other than one's muscles and for the relief of pain. That in itself is a belief.

Once you reach the end of your tether, you are constantly in pain and general medical treatments have begun to fail you. You lose trust in that medicine and are willing to try something new. The last chance you wish to work so strongly and you believe it will. You feel better. It must have worked.

This was a new treatment where all other treatments had failed. Is it fact or belief? Coincidence or combination of treatments? You choose to believe the cause if the outcome.  

So the use of acupuncture is a choice, as is our choice to believe therefore, as long as we perceive the choice, the outcome will be positive.

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