I hate pills. The whole premise sucks. I take a pill to mask the pain that is actually a signal by my body that something is wrong. I still will take pills when necessary, but it just doesn't work for me to pop a pill when I have a significant ache or pain. That thinking led me to try out acupuncture and I have never regretted it.
I never thought acupuncture would be a polarizing topic. When I casually mention a recent visit to my acupuncturist, people's reactions often have little to do with acupuncture itself. Open-minded or adventurous people say "Cool, I've always wanted to try that." Cynics say "Jeez, what is wrong with western medicine?" and roll their eyes. Others might wonder out loud "How can needles sticking into my skin make me feel better?" in disbelief. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I am not out to convince anyone they should drop what they are doing to go get stuck by needles. But perhaps some education and information are in order before you rush to judgment when you hear someone utter "acupuncture".
The crucial decision point about whether you can accept acupuncture as a viable medical treatment rests with your opinion about your body and its makeup and composition. What do you think of your body at its core? For me it seems pretty clear that people are energy. I don't see how that is not obvious. Bodies have physical compositions that are manifestations of energetic compositions.
At this point, half my friends will tune me out. "Energy, hahaha" I can hear a few say in my head as I type this. Something about discussing energy and the body causes people a lot of discomfort. To me this is a sign that the topic has hit a nerve with the person; Perhaps they have always felt wondered about human's relations to energy but were too nervous or embarrassed to discuss it. Maybe they mentioned something about meditation or yoga once and got made fun of. I don't know. I do know that when I mention acupuncture, and then say how it heals and removes energy blockages, 50% of my conversation mates at that point start to look at me with a mixture of bemusement and skepticism.
Let's say you are still with me at this point. You think it is perfectly viable that energy within the body is a prime factor in your physical health. We are not alone. In most Asian countries acupuncture flourishes as a standard medical practice. How does a typical acupuncture session work?
The acupuncturist starts with a thorough interview of the reasons you are visiting. This is nice, because you get to discuss all your symptoms. Some (not all) western doctors assume they know what is best for you before you even get done explaining your situation for going to see them. I get so ticked when that happens! After the interview process, the acupuncturist looks at your tongue. The tongue stays internal to your body the majority of the day, so the practice examines the signs of your most internal body part that can be viewed easily. Heavily coated tongues or tongues with random unique textures give the acupuncturist signs of your health.
Next comes the needles. The Chinese have mapped out the energy flow throughout the body. These maps are your energy meridians. Certain points on your body correlate to specific areas. For instance, I saw the acupuncturist for treatment of my sciatic nerve. She would put needles in different spots of my left wrist and hand, in order to clear up pain and trauma in my right hip and butt. It literally showed dramatic improvement the moment she put the needles in. Before the needles, when I would lean forward to touch my toes, I could only get to mid-shin until the pain and tightness were too much. And this is from someone who was able to stand on their palms prior to injury. After the needles got put in my wrist, I could bend forward significantly further because the pressure and pain had lowered substantially.
When all the needles are in all the spots, it is time to lay back and relax to music. I generally have about 25 needles in various spots on both hands and wrists, feet and shins, and a bunch on the crown of my head and in my ears. Sometimes every pin prick hurts initially, sometimes I don't even know they are in. Once I am left by the acupuncturist to zone out for 30 minutes, that is when the mind trip can occur. The energy starts whirling around your body for the first few minutes. Make no mistake about it, there is "something" that I physically feel, zooming all around. It can be quite intense, once or twice I thought I was going to blast out of my head...which is interesting yet startling. Other times your body gets a rhythm going, where the energy keeps swooshing up and down from head to toe. Or maybe I click out and have to get woken up by her re-entering the room. It is never the same experience, but something is definitely happening because of the acupuncture. I am not sure entirely how it happens, but all of that energy movement leaves me with improved symptoms of whatever it was that ails me. And if it is all just in my head, who cares, it is my psycho-somatic trigger and still works.
Acupuncture is not some new agey science where the benefits "manifest themselves in the future" and not immediately noticeable - far from it! I have used it to heal my sciatic nerve. It has improved my digestion significantly (no further detail needed on that). It has made me more calm, focused, and energized. If you are in Chicago, you can check out my acupuncturists by viewing her site and setting up an appointment. Otherwise google acupuncture and whatever city you live in and you'll find someone. Next time you have a recurring headache, muscle or nerve spasm, or just need to chill out, I suggest giving acupuncture a whirl rather than a pill.