By Danisha Bogue, L.Ac. - June 21, 2021
Categories: Acupuncture

Coming from a lifetime of Western Medicine’s “quick fix” approach, using acupuncture to treat chronic conditions can be pretty disorienting. Rather than focusing on covering up your symptoms, or trying to pinpoint one thing to fix and calling it good, Traditional Chinese Medicine takes a holistic view of the body. This means balancing the entire system (as no part of our body exists in isolation), and activating our body’s natural healing abilities.

This can mean that treatment is slower, and you may not walk away from a treatment feeling completely cured. However it also means that you’re not walking away with a bottle full of side-effects, covering up your issues rather than addressing them. This lack of instant gratification can be challenging, but it’s important to commit to the process, as your treatments will build upon one another for progressive improvement.

So how can you tell if acupuncture is working?

Your pain will change.

Change is the key word here. You know how when your foot falls asleep, it gets that uncomfortable pins and needles feeling when it wakes up? The process of balancing your energies and stimulating actual healing can sometimes cause flareups in your pain.

It can also cause it to just change. Not worse or better, but different. But if you stick with it, it will definitely decrease over time. How much time just depends on the individual and the issue, but usually significant results can be seen on the 4th or 5th visit.

Your sleep will improve.

I’ve mentioned before that it’s not unusual for clients to fall asleep during their sessions. In the hectic, stress-filled lives we live, just slowing down for 15 minutes to sit still without having to do anything can be enough to knock us out. Add in the adrenal regulating actions and emotional release that comes with acupuncture, and it’s not a huge surprise.

These benefits can carry over to regular sleep as well though. Insomnia is often a sign of imbalance in the body, so once we start addressing that, improved sleep is bound to follow. In fact, this is an awesome side effect for clients who aren’t even being treated for sleep disorders!

You might get emotional.

Our society isn’t great with emotions. We’re getting better, but we still have this tendency to repress what we’re feeling and channel it into our bodies. The problem is that those emotions can manifest as genuine physical issues.
The benefit of Traditional Chinese Medicine is that we acknowledge this interconnectivity, and treat emotional symptoms much the same as we treat physical symptoms. When receiving acupuncture, it’s not uncommon for these emotions that are locked up in your muscles and injuries to release. Just roll with it, and know that dealing with your emotional health is going to help your physical health as well.

Your mood will improve and your stress will decrease.

As I mentioned above, just taking the 15 minutes of your appointment to relax and focus on your breathing can reduce your stress, but acupuncture does more than just that to help your mood.

Besides helping you to release the negative emotions that are keeping you down, acupuncture also stimulates happy hormones like endorphin, serotonin, and norepinephrine. When we stress too much, these hormones get repressed. This repression is often what anti-depressants are treating, so you get the same benefits without the crazy side effects! And I don’t even have to be specifically treating a mood disorder for you to notice this benefit!

You’ll be more aware of your body.

We tend to notice the ways in which our bodies are failing us, like your knee pain or indigestion. But how often do you notice the everyday things that it’s kicking butt at? The meditative nature of an acupuncture treatment paired with the improved energy flow and happy hormone stimulation might result in you noticing the magical abilities of your body more. Colors might feel brighter, smells might smell stronger, and dipping into a cool pool on a hot summer day might feel like straight heaven. After a few sessions, that fog you’ve been operating in might start to lift and you’ll start experiencing life in HD again.

You’ll have more energy.

Don’t be surprised if, a few weeks into your treatment plan, you miss your morning coffee only to discover you don’t really need it.

Think of your body like a car. When you take your car in for an engine tune-up, it can improve your gas mileage. With acupuncture, we’re tuning up your body so that energy can flow more efficiently, and you don’t have to constantly top off your tank.

When you add in that you’re probably experiencing better sleep and a decrease in the chronic pain or other issues that brought you in, it’s not surprising that you’re going to feel like you can take on the world. If you can commit to a regular treatment schedule, we can get you running like a finely tuned machine in no time.

You’ll be more regular.

It all comes back to poop, doesn’t it? The truth is though, that the digestive system often acts as an early warning system when our bodies are out of balance. Anything from stress to illness to nutritional deficiencies can throw our digestion off-kilter. And the more we study the gut, the more we realize that it connects directly to every other bodily system.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has known this for thousands of years, which is why the acupuncture points that correspond to our digestive organs are found throughout the whole body. What this means for you, is that treating your foot (or whatever other body part is causing you problems) can also improve the energy flow in your gut, regulating your digestion.

It can be hard to figure out whether an acupuncture treatment is working or not, especially when we come from a Western Medicine point of view that has a pill to cover any symptom you have almost immediately. But if you’re interested in long term treatment that benefits your whole body, (WITHOUT crazy negative side effects that can cause as much trouble as the medication treats) then acupuncture should definitely be a go-to. Call me today to schedule a consultation so we can plan out your treatment plan. And keep your eyes open for these awesome “side-effects.”