MAKE ACUPUNCTURE WORK FOR YOU
"I tried acupuncture once and it didn't work for me"
When I hear someone say this I compare it to saying, "I tried exercise once and it didn't work for me."
We know that there are many factors that go into a "successful outcome" for exercise (frequency, intensity, diet, trainers, etc) and that you won't achieve your goals of losing weight, fitting into your skinny jeans, or increasing strength after just one session.
Health is complex. There are many factors that need to be addressed when trying to improve it. Acupuncture is an incredibly useful and effective method of healing when used appropriately BUT just like most therapies and other health practices, there are a few components that determine just how successful your treatments will be.
1. HELP ME HELP YOU
In my treatment plans and New Patient Paperwork, my patients receive suggestions for things they can do to speed up their results. There are ALWAYS things you can do to maximize the effectiveness of your treatments and feel better quicker.
If you commit to:
Coming in at the recommended treatment frequencies
Taking herbs and supplements as suggested (usually multiple times a day)
Following diet and lifestyle recommendations
--you can expedite your healing time and super-boost the effects of your acupuncture sessions.
Two of the most basic functions of acupuncture <when viewed through the Western lens> are:
1. Regulating the nervous system
2. Reducing inflammation
Many of us live a fast-paced, stressful lifestyle that includes multi-tasking, convenience foods, alcohol and other inflammatory substances.
When's the last time you ate food without looking at your phone/tv/computer?
How many times do you get in nature or sunshine during the week?
How often do you find yourself saying or thinking 'I'm too busy'?
Do you ever drive and eat at the same time?
How often do you get fast food or takeout?
Our nervous systems are taxed and our bodies are dealing with systemic inflammation that is fueled by junk foods and worsened by stress.
If you continue eating crap and don't work on managing your stress, each session will be like swimming upstream trying to combat the inflammation happening inside your body. We won't make the type of progress you or I would like.
If you commit to doing your homework outside of the office to reduce these stressful and inflammatory agents, you allow the work we do inside the office <acupuncture> to work more quickly and effective.
Clearing your life of these inflammatory habits is like cleaning off the dirt and grime of an old antique so you can begin to see what truly needs to be fixed or repaired. It's also like taking the rock out of your shoe instead of just putting a band-aid on the owwie it's causing.
Some of the basic recommendations I include are:
eating organic, non-processed foods
eliminating or reducing dairy/corn/soy/gluten/sugar/processed foods
eliminating soda, candy and any products that contains artificial sweeteners
throwing out poor-quality cooking oils (vegetable, canola, rapeseed, etc) and using heat stable oils instead (olive, coconut, avocado, ghee, grass-fed butter)
reduce plastic and BPA's (bottled water, plastic food or beverage storage, plastic wrap)
checking your personal care products on the Skin Deep website for their toxicity levels
limiting screen-time and no phone/tv/etc 2 hours before bed
eating dinner before 7pm
meditating daily 5-10min (join Headspace and do their 365 challenge)
I call this basic because EVERYONE and ANYONE will benefit from following these suggestions. The better you follow them, the better you will feel and the better acupuncture will work for you.
2. PATIENCE AND COMMITMENT
Here in the West, we are used to things working fast. When's the last time your internet wasn't working and you felt like you were back in the dial-up days? Ever take a pain or anxiety pill and felt the discomfort dissipate within 10-15 minutes? We love instantaneous results and have come to expect it.
Well, unlike Western pharmaceuticals, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are not quick fixes or band-aids that manage symptoms. Instead, our goal is to treat the root of your problem (and reduce your symptoms -- the branches), so you get lasting relief.
With acupuncture, we activate and regulate different systems within the body:
This takes time.
On occasion we work some acupuncture magic and get results in a few sessions but for most people... big changes do not happen in a single session. They often do not happen in three.
Sometimes it can take up to 7-8 sessions before you notice anything and then BOOM! Things fall into place and your healing feels exponential.
Multiple sessions are required to peel back the layers of the onion and retrain your body's pain and nervous system responses so if you don't notice any changes right away, don't despair! This is normal and I ask that you try to have a little faith and a little patience.
I get it, it can be hard to spend your hard-earned money on something new, especially when you don't see immediate return on investment. Let's put it into perspective though -- you don't magically feel better after taking a multivitamin or eating a healthy meal, nor do you get bulging biceps or a 6-pack after the first few days back in the gym. Your efforts to contribute to your health are cumulative. Things are working internally even if we don't see noticeable results or changes on the outside.
'Health' is something that be continually maintained and built upon... there isn't an automatic fix, boost or insta-cure.
Can you think of any type of therapy that only requires 1-2 sessions? Surgery is one of the few that comes to my mind but with even most surgeries, there are still risks, side-effects, and expenses in addition to down-time for recovery.
Most therapies or healing treatments require multiple sessions or maintenance:
all require frequent sessions or daily use to achieve significant results and acupuncture, herbs, supps and cold laser are no different.
There isn't a one-hit-wonder when it comes to health.
Be ready to commit to getting the care you need. Although you may have heard of a friend-of-a-friend getting better after just one session, it's not the norm. By having realistic expectations, you will be able to have more hope and confidence in acupuncture than going into it expecting to get better in a one-and-done.
It took you awhile to get into this position, allow your body the time it needs to gently unravel the kinks and find it's balance again.
3. CONSISTENCY AND FREQUENCY
When my patients come in for an initial consultation, we chat about their health concerns and I give a recommendation on how I think we can best achieve their health goals. Most people say that they want to feel better 'yesterday'.
Health is one of those things you don't truly appreciate until it has faded.
The treatment plans I recommend reflect not only the current condition but also the time frame that patients want to feel better. For a runner, this could be 3 months to heal before preparing for a marathon. For a fertility patient, this could be 3-6 months to prepare for IVF. Maybe you want to feel your best by your 40th birthday in a few months.
To be MOST efficient and effective, acupuncture treatments need to be "front-loaded". This means more frequent sessions in the beginning in order to gain traction, make progress, and produce lasting improvements.
Once we see your symptoms have reduced to what we both deem as acceptable, we taper off the amount of treatments you receive per week and the goal is to get you to a maintenance level, which for some, can look like once or twice a month.
Each treatment builds on the last and the momentum that is created is what helps keep your body in a state of restoration and repair. If you wait too long between treatments (even a week), especially in the beginning, you go right back to where you started and the timeline for your healing is extended.
Following the recommended treatment plan will help you get better as quickly as possible. This is why it's important to commit to your weekly sessions as best you can in order to keep gaining traction and momentum in your healing.
4. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Acupuncture can be weird. We stick needles in your body and you'll feel relaxed or less pain. It's can seem foreign or mysterious and to a certain degree... it is! Most of us in the West didn't grow up with a holistic or whole-body approach to health and we still don't have the science or technology to 100% explain it.
One of the many things I love about acu is how it helps enhance the connection between you and your body. When getting acupuncture you may notice different sensations -- a dull, achy pressure, a shifting of energy from one part of the body to another, belly rumbling, fluxuation in temperature, or even involuntary twitches or emotional releases (crying, sighing, humming). These are all a sign that shifts are happening within the bod.
By becoming more in tune with your body, you can start to notice why and when things happen. Overtime you can identify triggers or subtle signs that your body needs a time-out before you go into melt-down mode.
After and in-between your treatments, I encourage my patients to see if they notice any subtle shifts that may be occurring. Acupuncture rarely works like a magic wand where *POOF* your symptoms have completely disappeared. Instead you usually start to notice that your symptoms aren't occurring as often or as intense as they normally do.
This may look like:
-waking up less or falling asleep easier
-feeling less bloated
-needing to take less pain or anxiety meds than normal
-headaches only 2x a week instead of 4
-not needing an afternoon nap or coffee
-pain that starts at the end of the day instead of all day
-not freaking out during a traffic jam
-easier time meditating
-better focus or concentration
-better response to your kids meltdowns
These changes are the ones that you notice happening before your long-term allergies, hip pain or PMS go away (these are more complex issues that take time). Some symptoms shift faster than others but it's good to pay attention to the body's subtleties without obsessing over them either.
The more you check in with the body, the stronger this connection grows. Many of us walk around ignoring the signs that tell us something is off or that we are overwhelmed. One of the most underrated benefits of acupuncture is becoming more tapped in and connected to your body!
On another note -- people often come to me as a last resort.
They've seen 10+ doctors and have been told that it's all in their head or that there's nothing wrong with them.
If this is you, TRUST YOUR BODY. You know your body better than they do. If you feel something is wrong then YOU must be the biggest advocate for your own health. It's unfortunate that many of us have to go through this but doctors are human too. They are doing the best they can with what they know. Your previous health practitioners may not have the answer for you but this just means you have to continue looking until you find the key to feeling better.
Sometimes it's another practitioner.
Sometimes that person is you.
Don't give up hope.
Healing is not linear and when viewed in hindsight, our deepest struggles are often our biggest lessons. It's never easy when you are going through it but practice patience, remain hopeful and don't give up on yourself.
I love seeing my patients get better just as much as they love feeling better! That's why I find that education is so important to make sure that we are setting you up for your ultimate shot at success.
Follow the treatment plan
Make the diet and lifestyle changes
Remain hopeful and committed
I have no doubts that you will begin to make some serious shifts in your health.
Please message me with any questions or comments that you may have :)