Your Guide to Acupuncture Success
I often hear that someone has already “tried acupuncture” at some point and it did not work. Although acupuncture therapy is not 100% effective for everyone, there are definitely ways to approach it that will improve your healing success. Acupuncture can be an amazing asset to your health and well being – that is if you trust the process and know what to expect. These are my top 5 Tips to help you get the most out of acupuncture and make it work for you.
#1 Commit to a Plan
In my clinic, I like to layout an idea of what to expect, so that we can work towards a common goal. After going over your health history and treatment goals in the first visit, we will put a treatment plan outlining the number and frequency of acupuncture visits you can expect. Plus, we may also add some other suggestions to help the treatment work faster. If you have not had acupuncture before, the first couple of visits can give us valuable information on how your body responds to the treatment.
It is important to commit to at least 3 treatments at the beginning, especially if you are dealing with a chronic issue (ie. Migraines for the past year) or something that is potentially complex (ie. Fertility challenges). Acupuncture very rarely solves the problem in 1-2 visits. Even if you feel that nothing is happening after the first 1-2 treatments, it is often the case that small changes are already happening. Often the first things you may notice after an acupuncture treatment are improved sleep, better digestion and being better able to deal with stressful situations.
#2 Time your treatments well
Regardless of why you are getting acupuncture, it is generally a very relaxing treatment. The blissed out state often lasts for several hours after the needles are out.
The aim of being in this relaxed state is that it mimics our body’s own ‘relaxation response’ or the ‘rest and digest state’. These are the states in which our body’s ‘fight or flight’ mechanisms are subdued and we are able to rest and heal in a natural manner.
For this reason, I suggest maxing out the zen vibe and booking your treatments for a time when you can recharge afterwards. It does not mean you have to go right to bed, but probably best not to schedule acupuncture right before an intense workout.
#3 Consistence is Key
Sometimes new patients ask if coming in for acupuncture once per month is enough. They may be seeing other practitioners who have put them on a similar schedule, or it may be due to financial or schedule reasons. Unless you are already at the “maintenance stage” of a treatment plan, once a month will not be enough to see any healing progress at the start.
At the beginning of the treatment plan we need to see you a number of times, usually quite close together. Depending on the nature of the issue, this might be twice per week for a couple of weeks or sometimes just once per week. Acupuncture’s effects are cumulative, so that each treatment builds on the last one. If you go too far in between treatments we lose progress and have to start again from scratch each time.
Consistency will pay off if you stick to regularly timed visits. Once your health goal is achieved, it is often possible to just come in for maintenance visits – at that point it may well serve you to come in once per month as a ‘tune up’.
#4 Self Care is Part of the Treatment Plan
I love to add self care suggestions for patients to do in between treatments. This may be something simple like a breathing exercise to castor oil packs or even pelvic steams. My suggestions vary, depending on the issue and also on how keen you are to work on this at home in between treatments. I usually find better, faster results for those who can incorporate some ‘homework’ on their own.
#5 Acupuncture is just one part of the TCM System
Acupuncture is only one aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and usually it is not the only tool we reach for in most situations.
Given that this approach is a complete body of medicine we also consider and counsel you on the following:
- Lifestyle – including sleep quality and quantity, movement/exercise and how you cope with daily stress.
- Nutrition – including diet and hydration based on the holistic principles of Chinese Medicine.
- Stress Management – body and/or mind exercises that can provide stress relief and help alleviate symptoms.