When I’m not talking, tweeting or reading about astrology I spend my days sticking needles into people for a living.
Did I scare you?
It’s okay if I did. The responses I get from people when I tell them I’m an acupuncturist range anywhere from “I’d never do that, I hate needles!!” to “Oooh, what made you get into acupuncture? my (family member, friend, co-worker) swears by it.”
You can read about my acupuncture story here on my website, but for this blog post I want answer the top 3 questions I get about acupuncture & Chinese medicine
Do The Needles Hurt?
Yes, they’re absolutely excruciating! Just kidding! Generally speaking receiving acupuncture needles is a painless experience.
Yes, there are the rare occasions that a needle does feel uncomfortable but normally that’s because the needle hasn’t passed through the superficial layers of the skin where pain is mostly felt. The rarer occasion is when a needle is accidently inserted into a hair follicle. (ouch!)
But aside from that once you get past the skin, sensation is low.
People look surprised when I tell them that the needle has been inserted, they don’t even feel it going in.
Sometimes Qi being strongly moved can be mistakened for pain only because it’s an unfamiliar sensation. When we grasp Qi otherwise known as De Qi it can feel dull achey, slightly tingly, or like heavy pressure deep within the body at the site of the needle or at other locations.
One thing I always tell my patients is that needle sensation should never feel sharp or stabbing. A pinch or prick that fades away within a few minutes is fine, but if the feeling is unbearable just tell your acupuncturist to remove the needle.
Acupuncture needles are nothing like needles used in western medicine, they’re nowhere near as thick and they’re not hollow. This image from my alma mater gives you an idea of how acupuncture needles compare to other commonly used needles.
Acupuncture Is Good For Pain, Right?
Yes, acupuncture is great for pain, especially when we know what’s creating the pain in the body. However pain is not the only thing acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treats, not by a long shot. Remember that this is a comprehensive medicine that pre-dates Western Medicine by a good 2,000 years.
Just about anything that you would see your primary care physician for you can treat with Chinese Medicine.
Headaches, skin conditions, sleep disorders like insomnia, mental disorders, depression, fatigue, menstrual issues (including PMS, irregular cycles, fibroids & infertility), gastrointestinal disorders, bowel disorders, musculo-skeletal pain, sensory issues, vertigo and much more. Not to mention we have an entire materia medica for herbal formulas to work in conjunction with acupuncture treatments to support the healing process. Acupuncture is pretty dope. Trust.
How Acupuncture Does It Work? What Do The needles Do Exactly?
Explaining how acupuncture works is complex and yet simple at the same time. Without going into all the vocabulary let’s just say that your body is a unique ecosystem just like nature herself. The entire body works as a whole to maintain harmonic balance or good health.
The body is crisscrossed by system of energetic highways we call meridians. On these meridians are acupuncture points, you can think of them of energy pools that all have different functions. When we insert needles into these points, we direct the body’s energy or Qi to do whatever is needed to heal through creating balance. So if the body is too hot from fever we hit points to reduce the heat. If there’s chronic fatigue we needle points to increase energy while supporting organs that may need assistance. If there’s pain we find out what the source is and create a point plan to lessen or eliminate the pain.
Think of the needles as direct Qi conduits, they go directly to the energy to move it around. You can achieve the same effect with pressure also known as acupressure, but it would take much longer to achieve the same results a needle insertion.
Here’s one of my favorite videos that explains how acupuncture works. Take a look and tell me what you think.
Have you had acupuncture before? How did you like it? Leave a comment so we can discuss!
If you’re in the New York City Area you can catch me for an acupuncture session over at Olo Acupuncture in Manhattan!