Acupuncture: Believe It Or Not?

Acupuncture to me is just sticking needles on your body and it seems like a painful procedure. I knew it is considered as an alternative medicine. But honestly, it never became an option for me until recently when I heard Dr. Philip Niño Tan-Gatue gave a thorough discussion on acupuncture in a way that normal people, like myself, can easily understand.

Still, after the having listened to the fine doctor, I was still skeptical. Asked some friends on their view towards acupuncture and they initial reaction is, "It looks painful!" I needed to personally experience acupuncture to fully understand it and to answer the biggest question:


Acupuncture, in the narrow sense, refers to the insertion and manipulation of needles into the body, usually at set locations known popularly as “points”. In the broad sense, it refers to a collection of procedures related to needling. The word itself comes from the latin acus meaning “needle” and pungere meaning “to puncture” and it involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles. These needles are then manipulated by hand or by electrical stimulation. Needles can be placed on sites of local pain or on pre-defined acupuncture points that lie on pathways of Qi known as “meridians” or “channels”. (Source:


The Doctor:

Dr. Philip Niño Tan-Gatue is a graduate of the INTARMED (Integrated Liberal Arts Medicine) program from the University of the Philippines. He took interest in acupuncture after graduation and traveled to mainland China to study such at Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and at China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, both an accredited university of the World Health Organization (WHO). He furthered his training and learning through lectures given by Dr. Andrew Wu, one of the leading experts on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Today, he is considered an expert on acupuncture here in the country. He is a professor at the College of Medicine in the University of the Philippines while practicing at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). He also holds clinic hours at the Center for Wellness and Aesthetics in Medical City and acts as section head of Acupuncture Services.

Doc Philip (how is fondly called by colleagues), continuously study acupuncture up to this day.

Dr Philip Nino Tan-Gatue
Dr. Philip Niño Tan-Gatue examining my pressure points.

Questions & Answers:

Answers in this section is based on my actual experiences. I had acupuncture sessions with Dr. Philip Niño Tan-Gatue to satisfy my curiosity. I asked him if my sleeping problem is treatable by acupuncture. You see, I don't easily fall asleep unless I am dead tired. Worse, I can hardly sleep while traveling on a bus or a plane regardless if I am actually sleepy. It has been one of my nagging problems that I feel so tired coming from a trip. Health is a major concern for me and I would lie if I say that my sleeping issue has not taken its toll on me during trips and climbs.

Doc Philip said that it is possible to treat my sleeping problem with acupuncture. However, it will take some time through a series of sessions. At this point during our conversation, I was still a little skeptic until he mentioned one of the causes of my problem, that I knew I had. This guy really does know what he's talking about! So I scheduled my first appointment. Acupuncture, here I come!

So, the first question is ...

  1. Does it hurt?
    My answer to this is a "yes" and a "no". There was no pain when the needle was inserted into my body. According to Doc Philip, "a good acupuncturist is trained to insert the needle at the right depth and speed so as to bypass the sharp pain receptors on the skin and create only minimal pain, if ever that happens." However there was tolerable pain when he moved the inserted needle. This movement is described as rotating the needle and is more effective in acquiring "qi" compared to just by sticking the needle in.

  2. How long does each session take?
    Mine took less than 15 minutes. But the doctor told me that it depends on the style of the acupuncturist. I think it also depends on what is being treated. I'll ask doc on my next session.

  3. What happens once the needles are in?
    Well, I laid still the entire time. During my first session, I had needles on my torso, arms, and legs. So basically, I just waited until it's time to remove the needles. If your hands are free and you are in a comfortable position, you can probably play with your mobile phone to pass the time.

    AcupunctureTaken during my first acupuncture session.

  4. Is there an immediate result after each session?
    As mentioned earlier, my sleeping problem needs a series of sessions which I am determined to continue. But this I can say about this concern, there are sicknesses or pains that acupuncture can take away immediately. A friend who was with me during my first appointment had sore throat then and swallowing was painful. With one needle inserted the palm, the pain was gone almost instantly.

    During my second appointment, I came in with a foot injury. I can barely put weight on my right heel and needed crutches just so I could walk. After the session, the pain has significantly dropped and I can stand better on my injured foot. Of course, Doc Philip reminded me NOT to abuse it. An injury is an injury and should be rested for it to properly heal. So in a way, acupuncture helped in hastening the healing process.

  5. How many sessions do you need?
    The number of sessions vary depending on the patient and the sickness. During a conversation with Dr. Philip Niño Tan-Gatue, he cited different circumstances of his patients. Some come weekly, some monthly. But most importantly, there is progression after each session. So those who came weekly may eventually come monthly after a few sessions and some even progress to yearly. And so it seems that sleeping problem looks very hopeful with succeeding sessions.

  6. How much does it cost?
    The cost will depend on the practitioner. But I think the more important question to ask is whether or not you get your money's worth. So before scheduling a scheduling an acupuncture treatment, make sure you do your homework and know the background of your doctor.


I also experienced these during my first session:

Acupuncture with Moxibustion

Acupuncture with Moxibustion

Acupuncture with Moxibustion

Looks scary? The photos above are images of moxibustion. To me, it just looks like heat is being transmitted into my body through the needles. And before you ask me an obvious question, allow me to say that I seriously did not feel anything during the moxibustion. I did not feel heat nor pain. In fact, it was only when I saw the pictures did I realize that there was something burning on my back.

So, what is it? It is a technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine that is characterized by burning mugwort to stimulate blood circulation and qi movement. These effects are both important on some illnesses treated by acupuncture. And this procedure is mainly used to treat numbness.

Acupuncture in action:

Prepared by yours truly, filmed during my second session.

The Verdict:

I believe in acupuncture.

For more details, please visit Dr. Philip Niño Tan-Gatue's Website at

Clinic Hours:
The Medical City: Center for Wellness and Aesthetics
Ortigas Avenue
Pasig City, Metro Manila 1605
(02) 635.6789 local 6576

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  1. Moxibustion is totally a new experience for me as i have not heard anything about this. This technique also appeals as the burning mugwort increases the blood flow and works like clinical pilates which in turn provides relief to the patient.

  2. Does Medicare cover chiropractic care or acupuncture? chiropractic Toronto care is covered by Medicare, but there are some limitations. If you type "chiropractic care" into the search field on the Medicare website under "is my test, item or service covered?" it will tell you that Medicare Part B covers manipulation of the spine if medically necessary to correct a subluxation when provided by a chiropractor or other qualified provider.

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  6. Great article. keep sharing such a informative post.

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