It’s pretty common for acupuncture to be seen as a “last resort” form of medicine. Once you’ve tried everything else, all of the standard (and even the not-so-standard) solutions suggested by your doctors or friends, maybe then you might decide to try acupuncture.
Most of the patients I see in my practice have already been to 3 or 4, or more commonly 6-10, doctors and specialists before they come through my door. One of the primary roadblocks to receiving acupuncture is the common misconception that acupuncture is limited to helping with neck or back pain, smoking cessation, addiction, or weight loss.
The real magic of acupuncture is that it does not treat any particular health conditions at all.
This little-known secret, once understood, can help you avoid the long lines of co-pays, the fragmentation and time drain of endless referrals and multiple specialists, and the pharmaceutical interactions and side-effects that leave you feeling distressed.
When you take a medication (or chemo or radiation or even physical therapy) to override one particular pattern of disease, that intervention will also impact the rest of you, hence the very real possibility of side effects.
When we use an intervention like acupuncture, which treats people, rather than diseases, and allows your own immune and nervous systems to sort things out, we skip the side-effects and even have wins like eradicating PMS without intending to.
When you visit an acupuncturist, she will take a detailed health history with as much information as you are comfortable sharing about your physical, mental, and emotional health. She will also feel your pulse to take a glimpse of your internal state and look at your tongue to get an idea of what’s happening inside of you.
Once an acupuncturist has collected this information, she will put it all together to determine the weak link in your system. We call this the “root cause” of disease.
This root cause, (sometimes referred to as an imbalance or disharmony) leads to a chain result of symptoms that you might assume are unrelated but which you later realize all popped up around the same time (such as when your mother died or at the time of that car accident that you think is resolved) or which sometimes get worse in the same conditions (damp weather or heat for example).
Once your practitioner has an idea of what’s behind all of these symptoms that leave you run down and overwhelmed, she will treat that particular pattern of disharmony or organ system to bring everything back into alignment.
In other words, an acupuncturist will NOT treat the migraines, the menstrual cramps, the dizziness and the anxiety as four separate events (requiring four different interventions or four different approaches). She will support your body’s inherent ability to heal so that you can start to resolve these symptoms and get your health back.
Because acupuncture relies on getting your body back its optimal function, it can even take care of issues you haven’t mentioned to your practitioner.
I recently worked with a woman who came to me for help with anxiety, headaches, and dizziness that started after a concussion and were still wreaking havoc on her daily life nearly a year and a half later. She had been receiving treatment from her PCP, a physical therapist, a neurologist, and she had been referred to a psychiatrist and a psychologist for the anxiety.
While all of these interventions had been helpful to her, none had completely taken care of these issues or even really gotten these symptoms to manageable levels.
After one session of acupuncture, her headaches and dizziness went from daily to one time each over the course of a week. The anxiety that had been plaguing her 4-5 times a week, often at random, which was exasperating and overwhelming to her, went down to one incidence over the course of that first week after treatment.
This particular patient told me that it wasn’t the amazing reduction in her dizziness, headaches, and anxiety (or even the positive “side-effect” of starting to communicate better with her boyfriend since her energy was no longer taken over by the anxiety and overwhelm) that really convinced her. She became a believer because of her utter lack of PMS.
“PMS?” I inquired. “We didn’t even talk about PMS” I asked her, slightly confused.
“EXACTLY!” she replied.
She made it through her monthly supply of birth control and realized she had not had her monthly lead-up of four days of being snippy, crampy, and emotional. That’s when she knew for sure that her body, and the rest of her, was truly starting to heal.
It’s a pretty serious and amazingly powerful paradigm shift to trust your body’s innate desire, and complete capacity, to heal.
I do not have, and nor do I need, a PMS needle, an anxiety needle, a headache needle, and a dizziness needle. I have you and your beautiful being and the ability to identify where you’re getting stuck and the capacity to help you return to a resting place (sometimes called homeostasis or “balance”) so that you can truly restore your health and well-being.
Acupuncture was always intended to be a medicine of health and wholeness, to keep you feeling healthy and strong. This means you can even reap the benefits without even being “sick” or having a particular health concern.
I know that it’s a huge paradigm shift to consider getting support before you start to feel worn down, overwhelmed, or start to see those symptoms really linger, but I promise you that your body, mind, and spirit will be incredibly grateful to you for this investment in your health and well-being.