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DoctorGetWell's Monthly Column
Dr. Alex Tatevian has maintained a monthly acupuncture column in the health section of the Federal Hill Gazette since 1999.      
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  Federall Hill Gazette; September 2003

Acupuncture: Positive Side Effects?

   “Primum non nocere - First do no harm."
   Hippocrates.
   
   Acupuncture is perhaps one of the safest medical procedures.
   According to exhaustive searches of the medical literature worldwide, complications from acupuncture are extremely rare, and positive side effects are common. By positive side effects we understand general non-specific effects of acupuncture, such as improved sleep, calmness, vitality etc. that can significantly improve quality of life. Thus acupuncture treatment is not only safer than much conventional treatment, but the unintended effects of acupuncture treatment turn into advantage.
   
   Over a quarter of all acupuncture treatments result in positive side effects. As many of these, such as improved sleep and euphoria, can significantly improve quality of life their occurrence is of more than passing interest. In October 2001, Dr. Eva Haker, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm presented a paper to over 150 doctors on the side effects, both positive and negative in over 9,000 acupuncture treatments.
   
   Positive side effects were much more common than negative ones. Most commonly experienced were a pleasant feeling of fatigue, a calmness and improved sleep. Also reported were euphoria, relaxation and alertness.
   Only in a few extreme cases, these general non-specific effects of acupuncture can be profound to the point of disorientation, dizziness, and even fainting.
   
   All complications and adverse effects, however unlikely, must be acknowledged, studied, analyzed, and ultimately prevented.
   
   - A common side effect reported by patients with chronic conditions is the temporary aggravation of symptoms for a few days usually after the second session. This is known as a "healing crisis", and is not a cause for alarm.
   
   - Pregnancy or suspected pregnancy should be reported. Some acupuncture points should not be stimulated during pregnancy.
   
   - In rare cases, the following complications have been reported: pneumothorax from over-stimulation by needle manipulation and hepatitis infection from contaminated needles.
   
   Generally, complications seem to relate to overconfidence of the acupuncturist, as well as to poor hygiene and inadequate training.
   The ultimate way to avoid infection from blood-born pathogens is the use of sterile and disposable single-use needles.
   
    Alex Tatevian, DA
   
   You can ask your questions on our website DoctorGetWell.org or email them to getwell@doctor.com or send them to:
   
   Alex Tatevian, DA
   Acu Well Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine
   141 Airport Road, Warwick, RI 02889
   Phone (401) 738-9355
 
 
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