I can tell you that sometimes, in treating chronic fatigue and
fibromyalgia symptoms with acupuncture and chinese herbs, it does
take a while before there is improvement, and some symptoms and
signs improve before others.
This is a difficult issue for patients and Chinese medical practitioners
alike and you've raised a very good question. Unfortunately, there
is no black and white answer; some conditions do take more time
to improve with acupuncture and herbal remedies while others may
change rapidly with only a few treatments. Determining whether
your practitioner's forecast of six months is appropriate requires
looking at things from several angles. Let's walk through them
Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Treatment
I've spoken with a fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue sufferer who
is also an acupuncturist of 15 years- she's treated hundreds of
chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia patients. What she tells me is
that when they combined these modalities:
- Chinese Herbal Medicine
- Spiritual growth, AND
- Changing whatever is stressing you (some patients got divorced
or changed careers),
80% of patients experienced marked improvement (decreased chronic
fatigue and fibromyalgia symptoms), and 50% said they had been
completely cured. This is not an instantaneous process.. but more
of the patients had experience significant improvement within
I have to express my skepticism about your acupuncturist's prognosis...
if they mean there will be little or no change at all for 6 months,
that's too long. Let's give the practitioner a break though; prognosis
is possibly the most difficult part of practice.
Prognosis literally means "knowing ahead of time."
It sometimes seems like M.D.'s take great pride in being able
to predict just how long you have left with this or that terminal
disease. If you've read Bernie Siegel's Love, Medicine & Miracles,
you know that the M.D.'s don't really know. Another part of prognosis
is knowing the future course (what will change when, and how)
of the disease. Nobody really knows how a disease will progress
or improve with or without treatment in each specific person...
everyone is different. Some patients are more dedicated to recovering
than others. Some diseases are more stubborn than others. No well-researched
or time-proven drug or herb works 100% of the time. We can only
make good or bad guesses (and you don't know if it's a bad guess
Prognosis literally means "knowing
ahead of time." In medicine, prognosis is knowing the future
course of the disease, what will change, when and how. We make
estimates based on studies, statistics and experience, but nobody
really knows how a disease will progress in each specific person;
everyone is different. Some patients are more resilient than others,
some diseases are more stubborn than others. I must admit I'm
skeptical about your acupuncturist's prognosis.
How can you determine if your practitioner's estimate is reasonable?
Let's look at some guiding questions that may help you:
1. How many Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia patients has the
practitioner worked with?
This will help you figure out if the practitioner has good experience
with CF/FM cases, and if those patients really have taken that
long to show improvement. Also, what does the practitioner consider
to be "noticeable improvement?" For example, digestion
and sleep may get better before the pain goes away. That's a noticeable
improvement, but not in the pain.
2. How much improvement have their patients
- Slight temporary reduction of discomfort,
- Slight permanent improvement,
- Significant improvement/near, or
- Total cure?
3. What types of Acupuncture treatment
systems & strategies is your Acupuncturist using?
Some approaches work differently than others.
- Zang-fu acupuncture (an "herbalization" of
acupuncture treatment based on point functions) may take much
- Meridian-style acupuncture like Tendinomuscular Meridians,
8 Extraordinary Meridians, Luo-source, etc.
- Pre-Cultural Revolution (pre-TCM) acupuncture styles
often can produce dramatic and quick results; see Master Tong's
family style (popularized by Dr. Richard Tan and Miriam Lee),
and George Soulie De Morant's "Chinese Acupuncture."
4. What other Modalities (treatment
techniques) are used and what other Lifestyle and Diet changes
These could include:
- Chinese Medical Nutrition
- Exercise, yoga, tai chi, qi gong
These questions should help you figure out how experienced your
practitioner is with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia... and get
them thinking, too! Keep in mind that there are very few health
care practitioners anywhere who've had success treating this complex
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are well-suited to treat
it, though, so keep at it!
All the Best!