Is Acupuncture Safe When Taking Prescription Medications?

Health & Medical Blog

Although there are different styles of acupuncture, generally, it's safe for most people to receive acupuncture treatments at the same time they receive conventional medical treatments. That includes taking prescription medications. But like other health care providers, you need to give an acupuncturist your detailed health history before starting treatment.

Keeping Your Acupuncturist Informed

While acupuncture won't necessarily interfere with pharmaceutical medications you are taking, your acupuncturist still needs to know about any medicines you take so that they can make informed decisions for the best outcome.

  • Give your acupuncturist a full list of any prescription and non-prescription drugs, herbals, homeopathic remedies, or nutritional supplements you are currently taking. While not necessarily harmful, the side effects of medications could affect the progress of your acupuncture treatments. The University of Maryland Medial Center also cautions that herbal formulas the acupuncturist may use to enhance the effects of acupuncture could interact with other medications you are taking. Although the risk usually is minimal, in some cases, herbs can cause unpleasant or serious side effects. Have your doctor work with your acupuncturist in supervising your care.

  • Make your acupuncturist aware of other medical conditions you may have. Like prescription medications, some of the herbal formulas an acupuncturist may prescribe as part of your treatment could affect certain medical problems. Talk to your regular doctor about possible contraindications.

  • Tell your acupuncturist if you take aspirin or blood-thinning medications. Bruising and minor bleeding at the insertion sites are side effects of acupuncture treatment that can occur. The needles are small and thin, so there should be little bleeding. Still, you need to inform your acupuncturist if you are taking anticoagulant or anti-platelet drugs, either of which increases the risk for bleeding.

  • Be honest and let your acupuncturist know if you have a problem with substance abuse. It doesn't matter whether you are addicted to drugs or drink alcohol excessively. Either problem can interfere with the effectiveness of your acupuncture treatments. Your acupuncturist may recommend acupuncture treatment for your substance abuse problem as well.

Taking Your Other Medications as Directed

On the days when you receive acupuncture treatments, you should continue to take your other medications as usual. But as your acupuncture treatment progresses and you begin to feel better, you may need to take less prescription medication.

If you need to make changes to the medications or dosages you take, see your regular doctor. Your acupuncturist can't make changes to the prescription drugs you take.

Don't take it upon yourself to cut back or stop taking any of your medications without first discussing it with your doctor. Some prescription medications require that you gradually reduce the dosage. You can't simply stop taking the medicine.


23 October 2014