Recently there have been some conversations amongst my Instragram friends on acupuncture and I thought I’d share some information that I know about acupuncture and that I’ve learned about it from the last 10 years as a patient. You know, spread the acupuncture love a little bit?
What acupuncture has done for me. Over the past 10 years, I can’t tell you how much I’ve simply learned about my body through getting acupuncture — and quite honestly I don’t think I can sum it up in one blog post. I’ve never been a very passive patient and I’m always asking questions during treatments — which also helps me to learn more eastern philosophies on caring for your body. Over the course of my treatments thus far I’ve learned how to eat better, I’ve learned how to listen to my body more and have a pretty good understanding of the Chinese Medicine philosophy so that I can explain how to combat a cold, what foods to eat and which to avoid when you’re dealing with inflammation (or other), and a general understanding of a more holistic approach to healthcare. Because of this understanding it has helped me to make healthy and important choices for my growing family.
How I started getting acupuncture. For anyone who knows me, they know that I’m obsessed with my acupuncturist and have seen her pretty religiously over the past 10 years. Right when I graduated college I moved to San Francisco and unfortunately not even a month out of school I totaled my car (yes, it was my fault). I needed to get some chiropractic work done and I walked into a Chiropractic and Acupuncture office on Post Street in San Francisco and that’s when I met Jennifer. I told her my situation and she told me she could help. I really walked in the for the Chiropractic work (which I had never received before this), but she said she could help and I figured, why not? Since I live in Bay Area, I had heard of acupuncture before, but I had never considered it and didn’t know much about it. I was 22 at the time, just out of college and living on my own, so the only way I could afford these types of treatments was basically through the insurance money from the accident. I ended up seeing both the Chiropractor and Jennifer, but Jennifer is the one I have continued to see.
A few years later when I “moved” to Mexico for a few months, I just knew I’d miss my treatments and Jennifer. When I got back it turns out I had THREE parasites and needed some major help. In addition to being on enough antibiotics to get a person stoned, I saw Jennifer to help rebuild the good bacteria and get my system back into shape since it had been destroyed. She has helped me with everything from improving my eating habits and regulating my menstrual cycle, to healing muscular and tendon injuries of the knees, wrists, and whatnot and to helping maintain balance of mind and body. Bottom line, is that I love Jennifer and everything she has helped me to do. My relationship with her is long and deep and I can’t ever imagine seeing someone else. And even though I now live a good 60-miles away from her, I still make it a priority to see her every month. Bottom line, acupuncture has been a life changer for me.
Choosing the right Acupuncturist. You could always go the route of walking into an office and playing your luck like I did, but hopefully I can offer some words of wisdom as you get out there and try out this crazy acupuncture thing. It is in my professional patient experience that anyone who has been trained in fertility treatments, acupuncture facials or weight-loss techniques are more in their game as practitioners. Why is this, you ask? Licensed acupuncturists who have taken the time to take these specific classes end up learning more about the points and how they go together and end up getting a better understanding of how various points work together. They can also work with you to intensify your treatments. Because of the number of needles involved in these very focused treatments (there are over 80 that go into your face for an acupuncture facial… and OMG, does it feel amazing) it ends up intensifying the Qi (pronounced “chi”, also known as energy or blood) as it moves through your body.
There are different styles of acupuncture and you’ll want to choose someone who also has a style that you’re comfortable with. This has to do both with bedside manner and with style of acupuncture. The gentler approach is Japanese acupuncture (which is what I get done), and the less gentle approach is Chinese. While this may seem confusing because I also get treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s actually pretty straight forward. The technique of acupuncture is Japanese, while the TCM is the approach to medicine. TCM is basically treating the whole patient and is a form of holistic medicine. You can read more about that here.
I know, I know, there are so many questions people have about acupuncture. Here’s the answers to the questions I frequently get asked, and hopefully they’ll help you decide if acupuncture is right for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does it hurt? No, it’s not supposed to. With the Japanese technique, the needles are very fine and while you can feel them going in can sometimes feel more intense Qi during the treatment, it’s not supposed to hurt. There have been times when the treatment have caused me to jerk my hand or leg and then I tweak a needle, but if this happens I simple have my acupuncturist tweak the needle, reset it, or take it out. Other times a needle may have a more intense sensation (again, Qi) when it goes in, and unless it’s supposed to be intense that needle is reset or else avoided all together.
Does it work? Would I be doing this for 10 years if it didn’t? If my testament here doesn’t convince you, then you’re a lost cause my friend.
What does it do, exactly? Here is an excerpt from Jennifer’s website since she explains it so well:
Research has shown that the body responds by releasing endorphins (neurotransmitters that stop pain), increasing blood cell counts, and heightening the immune system. Basically, acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote its own healing. The ideal is to balance one’s overall energy in order to establish or re-establish well-being.
Like I mention above, acupuncture gets things moving. Sometimes because of diet, stress or injury your body can get stuck and stop healing. Acupuncture helps promote the healing process. Even if you’re already healthy, acupuncture can be a great supplement to Western medicine and can keep you healthy for the longer term.
Hopefully this is a good starting point for those of you who are considering acupuncture or just want to know a little bit more about it.