Does the idea of getting needles inserted all over your body make you queasy? Let your tummy rest. Acupuncture is an ancient medicinal practice with thousands of years of proven benefits — it’s worth overcoming your fear.
What can you hope to achieve? What should you expect the first time you go for treatment? Here is your beginner’s guide to acupuncture and five of its health benefits.
Acupuncture originated in China approximately 3,000 years ago, so it has a long history of producing impressive results. Eastern practitioners credit the practice’s effectiveness to how it stimulates the flow of chi or vital energy. Western scientists hypothesize that manipulating the needles impacts various nerve fibers and the pain signals they send to your brain.
Fortunately, the needles practitioners use are tiny — newbies often marvel at how they can barely feel the insertion. Once your provider arranges the needles, they leave them to work their magic, sometimes leaving you alone to rest in the treatment room for several minutes at a time. Don’t be surprised if you fall asleep, especially if your body needs rest.
However, the ease of the procedure doesn’t mean it’s free from risk. You should always seek a practitioner licensed by your state board to reduce your chances of contracting Hepatitis C or another bloodborne pathogen.
Why should you seek acupuncture treatment? The procedure can benefit multiple conditions. Consider the following health benefits, then set the date.
Pro-tip: Some insurance companies now cover this treatment protocol. Check with your carrier before shelling cash out of pocket. Even some Medicare Advantage plans offer a fixed number of visits per coverage period.
Your mind and body work as one. Excess tension can cause excruciating muscle cramps, but easing them isn’t as simple as saying “relax.” Besides, not everyone can devote an hour and a half to a daily yoga practice.
Enter acupuncture. By directly stimulating the nerves responsible for muscular tension, your practitioner sends relaxation signals to your brain from the source.
What if your fear of needles increases pain before your procedure? Talk with your provider. They may employ other techniques, such as myofascial release, to ease some tension before inserting the needles, reducing pain — it feels worse if you clench. Many practitioners also use calming essential oils, mood lighting and calming music to help you unwind before your procedure. Once you get through your initial visit, you should look forward to this relaxing time.
Some health conditions like multiple sclerosis can cause excruciating nerve pain by eroding the protective myelin sheath covering the fibers. They can also misfire, sending the wrong cues to your brain.
Manipulating these fibers through acupuncture can disrupt maladaptive signals. It also prompts those nerves sending your muscles into spasms to a ceasefire, easing pain accordingly.
Many gastrointestinal disorders are little understood. Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis originate from autoimmune diseases, but doctors remain unsure what causes irritable bowel syndrome.
Acupuncture can calm digestive issues by quieting the nerve signals between your gut and brain. It’s like taking your car for a tune-up, getting all the pins to fire the right amount to move food through your tract without rushing the process or creating excess gas and bloat.
Emotions are powerful neurochemical reactions that cause biological changes in your body. Over time, an overabundance of negative feelings can lead to physical disease — which doesn’t improve your mental state.
Acupuncture offers calming, healing self-care. Some people find it more relaxing than a deep-tissue massage as it hurts less and requires less body manipulation. Since most practitioners are holistic, coming to their art before it reached mainstream acceptance in the U.S., they’re more in tune with their client’s mind-body connection. They go the extra mile to create a nurturing office environment — no bright fluorescents or rushed appointments.
Today’s hectic pace hardly gives you time to breathe. It can feel like taking time to blink leaves you further behind.
Acupuncture can increase your energy levels and mental clarity. Anyone who has ever had a headache can attest to the brain fog such conditions can create. Acupuncture eases pain, improving your ability to focus.
Remember the car analogy? Think of acupuncture as mastering the correct gap on your spark plugs. The right manipulation of your body’s electrical system gives you the extra oomph you need to power through busy days.
Acupuncture is an ancient practice with a lot to offer modern bodies. It eases pain and stress, two conditions plaguing many American adults.
Consider this your guide to the practice for beginners. Once you reap the five above benefits of acupuncture, you’ll look forward to your next treatment.