Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that is used to treat a wide range of conditions. The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) method is widely used in the United States. Based on the belief that a life force (qi) circulates within the body along pathways called meridians, acupuncture works to balance this flow of vital energy along the meridians at various depths. The practitioner may also gently move or twirl the needles, or apply heat or mild electrical pulses to them. Usually the needles remain in place for 10 to 20 minutes while the patient lies still and relaxes, and the energy flow rebalances. As the Mayo Clinic also points out, even Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue.
Discomfort associated with a number of conditions and diseases has been relieved with acupuncture:
Chemotherapy—including induced and postoperative nausea and vomiting
Pain such as dental, neck, low back, labor and menstrual cramps
Headaches—including tension headaches and migraines
Respiratory diseases such as allergic rhinitis
Numerous other health concerns
Choosing the right acupuncturist is essential:
Ask people for recommendations
Check the practitioner's credentials (most states require non-physician acupuncturists to pass an exam)
Interview the practitioner and notice what feelings come up. If you feel uncomfortable or a sense of distrust, listen to your gut and seek help elsewhere.
Find out if insurance covers the treatment
I did not feel comfortable with the first acupuncturist I consulted, which resulted in not pursuing further treatment. Fortunately, I was recently referred by a trusted acquaintance regarding an ongoing intestinal problem. After an initial interview over the phone, during which I felt most comfortable, I was emailed a lengthy form to complete regarding my health history and what I most wanted to be addressed. The first appointment lasted over an hour as we discussed my history, followed by an acupuncture treatment. Much to my satisfaction, within a week, there was definite improvement with my intestinal issue.
If you have sought help via acupuncture, how would you describe your experience and outcome? Do you recommend this modality to others? In addition, any comments you have about acupuncture are most welcome!