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I typically DVR most programs that I am interested in, and therefore fast forward through the commercials.  However, some times when I am in need of a little light entertainment, I watch the commercials.  Many of them are for commonly prescribed medications promising the world to cure the particular illness or symptom.  On average, they dedicate a whopping five seconds to discussing the benefits of the medication.  They then proceed and literally speed up the rate of speech and dedicate an additional twenty seconds to discussing the side effects of the said medication.  I would find this hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.  For example, if you suffer from something like restless leg syndrome, which can be quite annoying but certainly not devastating, you can take a medication to relieve the restless leg syndrome.  However, you would need to be conscientious of the possible side effects.  In addition to dependency on the medication, you may also experience severe dizziness, inability to sleep, and behavioral changes including compulsive disorders.  You may also experience augmentation which means that as your body gets used to the medication, the symptoms may expand and start in other areas of the body such as your arms.  There is then another medication that can be given for the augmentation, or to treat the side effects of the original medication.  It would have its own side effects of course.  What about when it comes to treating more threatening concerns such as high blood pressure.  Certainly, these medications are necessary and often cannot be avoided.  However, they can cause many side effects as well.  The most common of which maybe weakness and pain in the legs that is sometimes so disturbing, that people are non- compliant with taking the medication.  With certain medications, the side effects may actually be why you are taking the medication to begin with.  This is commonly seen with medications treating anxiety and depression.  Sometimes the side effects state that it may cause suicidal tendencies.   Some medications have warnings that it can cause stroke, heart attacks, or death.   It is very intimidating to say the least.  Where do you go from understanding what is the right path to helping relieve your symptoms and avoid unnecessary side effects, and avoid taking an additional medication to relieve those side effects.    

The beauty of natural holistic medicine is in its effectiveness to help with your symptoms, while avoiding any negative detrimental side effects.  With that said, there are always some things that cannot be avoided.  Look out!  If you decide to try Acupuncture, you may experience certain side effects including a feeling of overall well-being that is second to none.  You may be able to sleep better.  This may include falling asleep more easily, staying asleep, and waking feeling more rested.  You may also experience better and more regular digestion.  You may find your overall temperament is calmer and it takes a lot more to get you angry.  Women may experience more regular periods, and less intense peri-menopausal symptoms.  Your pain may be mitigated.  It may be less intense, and less frequent.  Your joints may not speak to you and the pain may not fluctuate as quickly with weather changes.  All of these are common side effects of Acupuncture!

Imagine if you will, how that might look in a tv commercial for Acupuncture.  You would have images of people smiling, enjoying other’s company rather than being alone.  People would be active and exercising without any evidence of pain on their faces.  You would show a background of a nice meadow, maybe with a butterfly in the background.  You might even show a sunrise dawning and awakening happily in preparation of a new day.  It would certainly have very relaxing music playing in the background.  You would enjoy the full twenty to thirty seconds of the commercial showing the incredible benefits.  What would be missing would be the follow up with any negative side effects.  The only down side is the commitment from you!  Acupuncture is Science based medicine and thus has been treating illness for over 4,000 years because it works!  With that said, it is not magic, and thus most things can take some time to treat and do not magically disappear in one visit.  The commitment is on you.  The benefits are felt and realized along the way. 

Many of my patients initially began Acupuncture to treat a particular issue, but then decided to commit to Acupuncture weekly for their wellness regimen.  If I had to say the one possible side effect of Acupuncture is addiction.  Addiction to how good you feel, and how you want to keep that going and cannot, or make a choice to not live without it.  As you look upon the new year, and try to plan and realize your wellness regimen, consider avoiding the negative side effects of common medications.  How much better is it to get to the root of the illness or symptom, and stop it entirely while receiving the side effects that will impact you in a good way.  You too will want to stop your DVR from fast forwarding, and enjoy watching the nightly medication commercials with a snicker.   Incorporate Acupuncture into your weekly wellness regimen.  Become addicted to your Acupuncturist as that is the greatest side effect!