My Experience with Acupuncture
When my doctor first suggested acupuncture, I was a little hesitant. Really? Could poking holes in my body really be that beneficial? After doing a little research and talking to friends, I changed my tune and decided that I’d at least give it a try before writing it off completely.
The short story? I’m sold.
I’ve been blown away by the benefits of acupuncture and I’m really thankful that I wasn’t so stubborn that I didn’t try it. I’ve since convinced my mom, who doesn’t sleep that well, and my sister, who has chronic neck pain from a slipped disc, to give it a try as well!
What Can Acupuncture Help With?
Um, anything really. Physical pain, hormonal imbalance, stress, anxiety, sleep, hormonal imbalance—the list goes on! Acupuncture can pretty much help with just about any ailment you’ve got, so if you’re not sure if you’re a good candidate for it, chances are, you are!
How Does Acupuncture Work?
In traditional Chinese medicine, ailments, sickness and pain are caused by blocks in our body’s energy pathways, or qi. By stimulating the nerves through specific points on the body, acupuncture needles can help get our qi flowing correctly again. It helps awaken the body’s natural healing process, which I love!
Another cool thing? The effects of acupuncture are cumulative. If you just go once, you’ll feel the effects for a few days, but when you go regularly, you’ll feel the effects for longer stretches of time. Ryan suggested I come once a week for the first month and we’d taper off depending on how I was reacting. Now I’m going every two weeks, then I’ll go every three and then once a month.
Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling
I asked my acupuncturist what the difference was between the two, and he technically they’re the same. Dry needling is the Western version of acupuncture. It’s called dry needling because the needles are dry—no medication in them. The biggest difference though, and the one that kind of scared me is that to perform dry needling, practitioners only need a weekend course. Meanwhile, acupuncturists go to school for 4 years. Which would make you feel safer? He also told me that the laws are getting stricter around who’s able to perform acupuncture, so before picking a acupuncturist, do your research and make sure they’re really qualified!
I went in for my very first appointment at the end of April. Aligned Modern Health also offers acupuncture, so it was an easy decision since my functional medicine doctor and dietician are there too. I’ve been going to Ryan Ruiz at their Southport location and have loved my experience with him. He’s kind, calm and always answers all of my sometimes weird questions. I was a little nervous, but also really excited. I was already feeling so much better than I had in months, and was looking forward to seeing acupuncture could contribute to those good vibes.
The First Appointment
The first appointment is the longest. We went through my medical history. Ryan asked me a slew of questions that painted a better picture of what I’d experienced in the past and what I was currently experiencing so that he could better understand my symptoms. He also checked my pulses (yes, pulses plural—apparently there are more than one in traditional Chinese medicine! He also checked my gums and my tongue. Who knew that your gums and tongue could indicate so much about what was going on inside our bodies.
After we’d gone through it all—my weird sleep patterns, exhaustion, to the place on my face where I was breaking out—everything pointed back to my liver not functioning optimally. How crazy is that?! He asked me what time of night I woke up. I actually didn’t know because I try not to look at my clock, but he said that he would guess it was around 1-3, when the liver is most active according to TCM. The next time I woke up in the night, I checked the time and sure enough, it was 1:50am.
For my first appointment, we focused on building more energy, reducing stress, aiding digestion and supporting my liver, and adding heat energy back to my body with the burning of moxa. Moxa smells a bit like incense and was burned on my feet and shins—don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt! It just feels warm and aids in building heat energy, because I was low on that, ha! No wonder my feet are always freezing!
The needles don’t really hurt either. It just feels like a little pinch. Some needles sent a zing down my fingers or toes and some felt heavier than others—all of this Ryan told me was normal.
After the needles were placed, he dimmed the lights and left for about 20-30 minutes. It was really relaxing and a good time to do a little mini meditation on the table.
After My First Appointment
I left feeling pretty euphoric, haha! I had a lot of energy and went to a coffee shop and crushed my to-do list. The days following I noticed that in general I had more energy, my digestion was working better, I was sleeping much better. That very first night I slept like a rock! It was awesome! I fell asleep fast and stayed asleep all night long.
At my following appointments, we focused on the same things. Creating more energy, adding heat energy, reducing stress, supporting my liver and getting my digestion working at it’s best. It’s been cool to see that over time I’ve been sleeping better, my energy continues to build and stress doesn’t affect me as much as it used to.
For me, stress is such a trigger, so in addition to acupuncture, I try to practice meditating on a regular basis as well as yoga, though, I’ve been bad about yoga lately! Instead, we’ve been going on a lot of walks since it’s been so nice outside!
My Latest Appointment
During my last appointment, in the last 5 minutes or so of my treatment, I felt this warmth and energy rise and expand throughout my body. It was a strong feeling, but not like a caffeine jolt. It was smooth and steady. I felt relaxed, at peace and clear. Funny enough, since then, I’ve been feeling so inspired and at peace with where I am in my life, my work—everything.
It’s been really cool to see the benefits grow and expand on each other with each additional treatment and I can’t wait to see how I’m feeling in another month or two!
I say this all the time, but my journey to a healthier and happier version of my self is just that—a journey. I’ve loved learning about new healing techniques and trying them and feel so encouraged with every tiny step forward that I make!
If you’ve been curious about acupuncture and wanted to learn more, I hope that my experience sheds some light on how it works and what it’s helpful with! Also, If you’re still skeptical, just try to go in with an open mind! If you have any other questions that I didn’t answer, let me know and I’ll get back to you asap!