- Alternative & Natural Medicine
How To Find A Great Acupuncturist
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an alternative approach to medicine which originated in China and treats patients by manipulating hair thin needles inserted into strategic points of the skin. In general, acupuncturists believe that bodily functions are regulated by an energy called 'qi' which flows through the human body. If this flow is disrupted, disease or illness may result. By inserting needles into specific points of your body, acupuncture stimulates your energy flow and puts your health back into balance.
From a Western point of view, acupuncture points are understood to be places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. By extension, acupuncture is a means to stimulate the central nervous system to release natural chemicals. These chemicals in turn are able to dull pain and boost your immune system. By activating your body's natural defenses, healing capabilities are enhanced and health is improved.
The result no matter which way you look at it? You are sure to feel like a new person!
Believing in the Benefits of Acupuncture
There is evidence that acupuncture works best in people who expect it to work. This assumes an understanding and appreciation that health is a product of the whole person and not a product of isolated diseases. In other words, health is a result of a person's overall physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental well being.
I have seen acupuncture at work successfully on two separate and unrelated occasions. One was with my own father who had severe difficulty eating post surgery. He had been experiencing food aversions of the severest kind and was sustaining himself on a feeding tube. After numerous unsuccessful conventional attempts to help increase his appetite, he (unwillingly) agreed to acupuncture. And after his second session, it seemed almost like a miracle when he began asking for solid food again.
The other occasion is of an even more personal nature as it pertains to enlarged lymph nodes caused by follicular lymphoma. At the onset of the acupuncture sessions, CT scans showed a number of abdominal lymph nodes enlarged to the size of golf balls. Six months later, the same lymph nodes had either decreased significantly in size or actually returned to their normal size. And to reiterate, this success was achieved without the use of any chemical intervention.
How to Choose Your Acupuncturist
When you are ready to take the plunge into acupuncture, do the same things you would do if you were choosing a doctor. First, ask friends and family you trust for recommendations. Keep in mind which credentials, training and experience are important to you as backgrounds can vary significantly. Next, check out the practice's website and call for your initial appointment. When interviewing the acupuncturist over the phone, be sure to inquire about specifics concerning the treatment and how likely it is to help your condition. Finally, no inquiry is complete without a word about costs and whether or not the expense is covered by your insurance.
You should know that each person who performs acupuncture has their unique style, often blending aspects of Eastern and Western approaches to medicine. During the initial appointment, your acupuncturist will try to determine the type of treatment which will help you the most. In order to do so, you will be asked questions about your symptoms, behaviors and lifestyle. In addition, a brief exam will include a look at the parts of your body which are painful, the shape/color/coating of your tongue, the color of your face, and the strength/rhythm/quality of the pulse in your wrist.
Your Acupuncture Treatment Plan
Subsequent appointments will usually take between a half-hour and an hour. I prefer mine to last as long as possible as I quite literally use the time to decompress and relax. With soothing music playing in the background, an eye pillow on my eyes and a heat pack on my abdomen, I often drift off into a deep sleep. A common treatment plan for a single complaint would typically involve six to twelve treatments, scheduled over a few months. Personally, I am hooked for life.
Remember to dress in loose and comfortable clothing. Acupuncture points are located in all areas of the body and while you do not need to undress to receive acupuncture, shoes and socks always do come off. Sometimes the appropriate points are far removed from the area of your pain. Just know to trust your acupuncturist as the needles are placed. After you lie down on a padded table, the treatment begins.
Your Acupuncture Treatment Sessions
Acupuncture needles are extremely thin, so insertion causes very little, if any, discomfort. Think of it more like a tingling sensation or a tiny pinch, as opposed to a deep, long lasting pain. I typically receive between ten and twenty needles per treatment. In most cases, the needles remain in place between 30 minutes to an hour while you lie still and relax. There is usually no sensation of discomfort when the needles are removed. All needles are discarded after removal.
Why I Love Acupuncture
The effects of acupuncture can vary greatly from person to person. While some may feel relaxed and at ease, others respond with renewed energy after a treatment. But regardless of the effect of acupuncture, those who are willing to try it are typically convinced by the results. They feel their symptoms lessen and see improvements in their overall health.
My commitment, beyond the success I have had to date, is largely based on three key factors. First, I am able to save my body from chemical drugs until (if ever) they become medically necessary. Second, I am able to boost my immune system and remain in the best possible health even during the dreaded flu season. And third, I am able to balance and strengthen my emotional health which plays a key part in my overall well being.
Acupuncture & Wellness
Acupuncture can either be used on its own, or combined with conventional treatments or alternative remedies. Over the last few years, my first defense against any ailment has been herbal or natural supplements. In particular, one natural remedy which has shown positive results in building up my immune system is a mushroom supplement I take daily. I have successfully warded off sinus infections, bronchitis and the flu this season. Even my husband, who is slow to warm to the idea of acupuncture and alternative medicine, has asked for a refill of an herbal supplement to fight off his colds.
Go ahead and take the plunge. It really works!