I personally had no problems with the treatments. I had areas that seemed tender after a couple of days... but that could just be the body reacting after the chi in a particular meridian after it was stimulated. I did have times of weakness and such... but it was part of the treatment.
My practitioner used a combination of herbs and acupunture. He started off very slow, using needles which were not long... and doses of herbs which were not strong. He watched me to see how I reacted. I eventually got stronger and stronger treatments. The needles got longer (not wider), and the herbs worked their magic. I went once a week.
I think that if someone has a harsh reaction to the needles it could be a result of a few things. The practitioner doesnt necessarily know the extent of the illness... and makes the diagnosis as best they can. This is why they normally start off slow, because harsh reactions can happen. But the reactions can give a Doctor some more information in regards to further treatments. I get the feeling the people who have, what they feel are negative experiences... never go back for further treatments.
The person who is getting the treatments may be resisting them, resulting in further sickness. This could be conscious or subconscious. IE Stressing out over every little thing that crosses mind.
The extent of a persons illness may have side effects of weakness... this could be part of the healing process. Or it could be poor treatments. There can be a myriad of things contributing to a persons illness. The person might also be drinking or eating foods which goes against the Doctors protocol.
I would suggest seeing a very compitent well trained Chinese TCM doctor. My Doctor for example studied for 8 years at a University in China, and apprenticed/practiced for another 40. He is able to perform surgury in his homeland, and has many treatments he is expert in... not just herbs and acupunture. This is not a hocus pocus doctor. Not a 2 year college student. TCM has thousands of years of theory behind it, unlike other eastern practices. If a new protocol has achieved something, it is kept in chinese TCM libraries for atleast 1000 years. TCM is extremely effective when performed by someone who is expert. I know first hand... I have wasted cash on local college grads.
I would also look for other healing signs in the body... as I mentioned earlier, to determin the quality of their treatments. Aswell talk with the practitioner and see if they are able to answer questions within their paradigm.
I also recommend that a person learns how to eliminate stress as much as possible... this is probably the most important part. But many will not follow this path because they believe that the mind and body are seperate, and the body is only a plumbing system. The books I recommended helped me achieve alot in regards to stress and healing.
In the end you gotta do what works for you, and if your meant to heal... you will find a practioner in any field who will meet your needs.