Common Side Effects of Acupuncture- Watch out!


Whether we’re filling a prescription, researching a new treatment, or just watching tv, we often get bombarded with potential side effects. These range from minor to downright concerning.

Some patients who are new to acupuncture ask me about possible side effects from treatment. Some people are concerned they’ll feel weird, or are trained to anticipate the laundry list that comes along with most pharmaceuticals. Over the years I have observed common side effects of acupuncture treatment. Whether someone is coming in for an injury, anxiety, or osteoarthritis, they may experience some or all of these side effects:

  • Relaxation: It is very rewarding to see the relaxing effect of treatment, which is often immediate! Someone can walk in tense, talking rapidly, and in general wound up tight, only to melt into the table unable to open their eyes in a matter of minutes. Even those initially anxious about needles only need a few deep breaths and a gentle touch before relaxing and realizing they enjoy acupuncture!

  • Increased energy: Due to the relaxing nature of acupuncture, many can get up from treatment feeling tired or a little groggy (many people aren’t used to such deep states of relaxation!). But after that initial sleepiness, most people are rejuvenated and experience increased energy. Being able to recharge and restore allows us to return to life with more vigor!

  • Improved sleep: Whether you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or suffer from both, acupuncture can often help. Many people don’t realize that their poor quality and/or inadequate quantity sleep is indirectly affecting their recovery. Sleep contributes to more than just your perceived energy- it is necessary for your overall functioning. Sleep is the time for our bodies to repair themselves, our brains to sort out what they don’t need, and our immune systems to work (to name a few). By neglecting your sleep, you’re neglecting your overall health! Even patients who don’t realize they need to work on their sleep habits often notice that they’re falling asleep quicker, waking less in the night, and waking better rested. This contributes to the speed of the recovery of their main complaint, and by incorporating positive sleep hygiene moving forward someone can help prevent future relapses.

  • Better bowel movements: No one likes to talk to their acupuncturist about their bathroom habits, but I can’t stress enough how important this aspect of your health is! Many people are quick to say their bowel movements are “normal.” As it turns out, “normal” means something different to everybody! Someone might describe the fact that they have a BM every 3-4 days as normal, while the next describes their 3-4 loose stools per day as normal. While these instances may be “normal” (or common, usual) for each of these individuals, I wouldn’t describe them as healthy. They’re signs that something isn’t quite right, that contribute to an individual’s Traditional Chinese Medical diagnosis and therefore treatment plan. Some patients will note that it doesn’t bother them, and that they just want to treat their main complaint. But think- if your bowel movements regulate (a sign that your internal processes have regulated), then you will (depending on your scenario) be spending less time and energy in the bathroom, absorbing more nutrients more effectively in your digestive tract, and/or be putting less stress on your body. You will therefore have more internal energy and resources to efficiently repair yourself. Addressing your body as a whole IS focusing on an individual’s main complaint!

Still intimidated by the side effects of acupuncture? Schedule a complimentary consultation and I’d be happy to go over any of your concerns!

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Conveniently located at

North Shore Acupuncture & Wellness

65 Newburyport Turnpike

Newbury, MA 01951

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