Acupuncture saved my life. That is a bold statement, but one that I stand behind. Having been chronically sick and battling debilitating depression for years, I had become a slave to my medication and supplement routine. I was trying to do everything as naturally as possible, but I was literally setting three alarms on my phone as reminders to take supplements and carrying around the same pill holder that my grandmother used. All the while, I was still terribly sick and horribly depressed. Something was not right here.
Two years into this, after nearly dying in the hospital from liver failure caused by a medication I was taking, I was told to immediately stop taking every prescription and supplement that I was on. This horrified me. “I can’t stop taking all of this stuff! I am going to get so sick and so depressed. I need these pills!”
But wait… I’m already sick. I’m literally in the hospital hoping I don’t lose my liver. I’m already depressed. I forget what happy feels like. How much worse can it get if I stop taking these things?
So that’s what I did. I stopped everything on the spot. Now, I was admittedly terrified and certain that I was going to get even worse than I was and probably wouldn’t have listened to the doctors if my husband hadn’t hounded me, but this was truly a blessing in disguise.
I was freed from this overwhelming, unrealistic routine of taking over a dozen pills at all hours of the day. Until my liver was completely healed, I was instructed not to take anything at all. I knew that, in the state I was in, I wasn’t strong enough to do this on my own. This forced me to look to alternative resources to assist in my healing. That is when I found acupuncture. I’d known people who had done it and who swore by it, but I still had a hard time believing in something that I didn’t fully understand. These little needles poke me all over and I heal? Okay…
Keeping An Open Mind
But, I gave it a shot. And I cannot put into words what acupuncture has done for me. Nerve damage from my liver biopsy that had plagued me for months and kept me from doing the simplest things like carry a bag of groceries was 90% gone after 3 sessions. I was not only able to carry my groceries, but I could exercise again. My depression was basically nonexistent within a month. The chronic, unrelenting symptoms I’d been struggling with for years were all slowly fading away and I literally felt like I could conquer the world. I had forgotten what these feelings even felt like after struggling for so long. I was excited to live and excited to get out there and try new things. This all happened in less than two months!
So, that’s my story and that is why I’d like to teach you a little about acupuncture. Everyone’s experience and recovery time will, of course, be unique to them, but when you hit that hard time in your life, whether it be a physical or emotional challenge, remember this article.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient traditional Chinese medical practice, dating back over 2,500 years used to prevent, treat and diagnose disease as well as improve general wellness. By inserting needles the width of a strand of hair into very specific points, acupuncture helps to restore the balance of energy flow throughout the body.
Upon inserting the needles into the skin, it stimulates nerve centers, almost tricking the body into transferring energy to certain areas to assist in healing. At least, this is the best anyone has been able to explain it to me. I, admittedly, still have a difficult time fully understanding the science behind acupuncture, but there are countless studies- including many conducted in the U.S.- that show the wide array of benefits of acupuncture on everything from migraines to depression to chronic disease.
What To Expect At Your First Visit
At your first visit, you can expect your acupuncturist to conduct a thorough health history with you. They may check your pulse, look at your tongue and ask you questions about your digestion and eating habits. Even if it seems like these things may have nothing to do with your reasons for seeking out acupuncture, everything is interconnected in traditional Chinese medicine and it is all relevant.
Next, your acupuncturist will get you settled comfortably on the table and wipe down each needle point with alcohol. They will then insert each needle, one at a time. Typically, the more fleshy the point, the less you will feel the insertion. For me, the worst points are the tops of my feet, but I don’t even feel the ones on my legs or arms usually. Some days I feel more sensitive to them than others too, but I would never say any of them were painful. It’s just a short pinch or sting and, occasionally, a dull throbbing.
Once the needles are all in place, you will likely be left in a dimly lit or dark room for 15-45 minutes to lie still and relax. Your acupuncturist will then return to remove all of the needles, which shouldn’t hurt at all and you are done. You have survived your first session! Just soak it in the next day or so and see how you feel.
Everyone’s experience will be unique and their healing timeline will be as well. Depending on your reason for choosing acupuncture, you can expect to need at least 4, but possibly as many as 12 or more treatments. Your body will give you a good idea of how long it will take after the first couple sessions.