I’ve been receiving acupuncture treatments every other week since 2016. These treatments are soothing, healing, and balancing. I feel relaxed when I am having an acupuncture session and I leave treatment feeling like a new person. Acupuncture is a gentle practice of lightly and slightly penetrating the skin with very tiny, wispy-thin, metallic needles which are activated through the practitioners gentle and specific hand movements. I often relax into a state of deep peace during acupuncture treatment. My practitioner’s office and treatment rooms are a clean, warm, and quiet providing a relaxing and safe atmosphere for settling into deep peace during acupuncture sessions.
Acupuncture is part of the ancient practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM practitioners believe the human body has more than 2,000 acupuncture points connected by pathways or meridians. These pathways create an energy flow (Qi, pronounced “chee”) through the body that is responsible for overall health. Disruption of the energy flow can cause disease.
By applying acupuncture to certain points, it is thought to improve the flow of Qi, thereby improving health. In my case, TCM and acupuncture helped reduce the cravings for alcohol when I began recovery from alcohol addiction. Studies have shown that acupuncture is effective for a variety of conditions, thought it is not everyone. If you choose to see an acupuncturist, first discuss it with your medical doctor and then find a TCM practitioner who is licensed as having proper training and credentials.
Four Key Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Principles
1. Your body is an integrated whole. Each and every structure in your body is an integral and necessary part of the whole. Along with your mind, emotions, and spirit, your physical body structures form a miraculously complex, interrelated system that is powered by life force, or energy.
2. You are completely connected to nature. Changes in nature are always reflected in your body. TCM factors in the particular season, geographical location, time of day, as well as your age, genetics, and the condition of your body when looking at your health issues.
3. You were born with a natural self-healing ability. Your body is a microcosm that reflects the macrocosm. Think about it: nature has a regenerative capacity, and so do you. Sometimes, this ability may appear to be lost or difficult to access. In most cases, it is never completely gone.
4. Prevention is the best cure. Do you know your body is continually revealing signs about the state of your health? Let’s face it, it’s common to ignore these signs or symptoms until something more complicated arises. TCM teaches you how to interpret what your body is telling you.
What does acupuncture feel like?
Most of my treatments include six to eight needles applied to my skin, mostly to points on my lower arms and lower legs. Most people report feeling minimal pain as the needle is inserted. I often do not feel any pain when the needles are inserted or positioned. Very rarely, I do wince for a second if the needle meets a hot spot of inflammation. This discomfort passes quite quickly, a second or two, as the blocked energy is released by the needle.
How does acupuncture affect the body?
Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system and release blockages of stuck energy and emotions. This, in turn, releases the body’s natural healing chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These natural biochemical changes appear to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies have shown that TCM and acupuncture are effective treatments alone or in combination with conventional therapies to treat the following:
- Nausea caused by surgical anesthesia and cancer chemotherapy
- Dental pain after surgery
- Menstrual cramps
- Tennis elbow
- Myofascial pain
- Low back pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Acupuncture may also help with stroke rehabilitation. Many Americans seek acupuncture treatment for relief of chronic pain, such as arthritis or low back pain. Acupuncture, however, has expanded uses in other parts of the world. Before considering acupuncture, talk to your doctor if you have a medical condition.
It is important to seek treatment from a qualified acupuncture practitioner. The FDA regulates acupuncture needles just as it does other medical devices under good manufacturing practices and single-use standards of sterility. Instead of needles, other forms of stimulation are sometimes used over the acupuncture points, including:
- Heat (moxibustion)
- Pressure (acupressure)
- Suction (cupping)
- Impulses of electromagnetic energy
You do not have to be a doctor to practice acupuncture or to become a certified acupuncturist. About 30 states have established training standards for certification in acupuncture, although not all states require acupuncturists to get a license to practice. Although not all certified acupuncturists are doctors, the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture can provide a referral list of doctors who practice acupuncture.
Consider costs and insurance coverage. Before starting treatment, ask the acupuncturist about the number of treatments needed and how much the treatments will cost. Some insurers cover the cost of acupuncture while others do not. It is helpful to know before you start treatment whether acupuncture is covered, or not, by your health insurance plan.
Send me a note if you’d like to talk about acupuncture treatment and I’ll gladly share my treatment and wellness experiences with you.