• Thu, Apr 28 2011

Natural Remedies: Confessions of an Acupuncture Addict

I know I’m an acupuncture addict. I’ve been getting regular or semi-regular acupuncture treatments for years now, and for various health-related reasons. Well, two, actually. The main reason is to help ease acute physical symptoms of Hailey-Hailey, a rare, genetic, chronic skin disease that I’ve written about for Blisstree a few times. The other reason is for pregnancy-related symptoms like edema (lower leg or feet swelling), anxiety, or sleep deprivation. But I like to think that I’m an acupuncture addict in the best way possible. I’m not the kind of person who spends money on things that don’t work or are a waste of time, so if I thought acupuncture was simply an ancient Eastern promise never to be fulfilled, I would’ve ditched the entire practice a long time ago. (Plus, in the city where I live, acupuncture treatments aren’t exactly cheap, and most health insurance plans only cover part of the cost of some sessions, if at all.)

Like I said, I know I’m an acupuncture addict. But what I didn’t know is that I’m such a preachy acupuncture apologist. I will talk to anyone who will listen about acupuncture and the many health benefits it has afforded me over the years. (Not the least of which is stress relief. No matter why you seek out acupuncture treatments — sports injury, digestive problems, infertility, migraines, back problems, etc. — noticeable stress relief always seems to be an extra added bonus.) I will praise the expert hands and techniques of Anne and Peggy, my genius acupuncturists, and then I will launch into an amateur diagnosis and analysis about why I think the person I’m talking to should absolutely pursue acupuncture’s tiny needles to help cure what ails them.

This happens all the time, and it’s even happened a few times this week. The other night I found myself giving a mini-lesson about the pleasant side effects of acupuncture to several women in my childbirthing class. (Some of the male partners were listening, too.) These women had been complaining about different kinds of third-trimester pregnancy symptoms, and that was all the cue I needed to make my elevator pitch (even though there was no elevator, and I wasn’t shilling for an acupuncturist). Turns out, these women were eager to listen to any potential solutions to their problems. Of course, I really only had one. (But I guess the fact that they know I run a women’s health and wellness website reassured them.) After our exchange, several of them were convinced and asked me for my personal acupuncturist recommendations.

Throughout my years as an acupuncture addict and apologist, I’ve been most surprised by some of the reactions I’ve gotten from people once I tell them that I regularly visit a lady who I allow to stick a bunch of needles into my skin, turn off the light, and close the door behind her. Such reactions have included everything from concerned curiosity, alarm, incredulousness, disgust, fear, and utter horror. (Some people are really, really afraid of needles, no matter how tiny and thin. Some people also are really, really afraid of Eastern medicine, even though it’s been around a hell of a lot longer than Western medicine.)

I suppose these reactions shock me a little, because I assume that because I live in a heavily-populated, cosmopolitan, urban area where there are plenty of acupuncturists to go around for everyone, and plenty of places to get acupuncture treatments, that everyone else is aware of this truth. Not so. I’m also shocked by the amount of people I’ve met who didn’t know that you were even “allowed” to get acupuncture treatments while you’re pregnant, much less knew that acupuncture can really help you while you’re pregnant. (It can help you get pregnant, too.)

The funny thing is, the people I’ve met recently (women and men) who are skeptical to their core about the merits and benefits of acupuncture are all intelligent, well-educated, reasonable, and rational adults. Sure, they’re a tough crowd, but these people need to hear my tingly sermon. (Hell, even my own husband doesn’t buy into acupuncture, and he sees firsthand all the physical and mental benefits it provides me! Don’t worry: I’m still working on him.) As a rule, I’m not particularly preachy about religion, politics, or even a person’s diet or workout regimen, but I’m pretty damn preachy about acupuncture. And, just like my regular acupuncture treatments, I don’t envision that changing anytime soon.

photo: Thinkstock

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  • Jill

    You’re lucky then. Acupuncture has never helped me. Ever. I’ve seen over 15 people, over 10 years, many many many treatments with supposedly the “best” acupuncturists and I’ve never gotten relief from various aliments. It did not help me get pregnant, or relieve pain, or help with stomach issues. It did help me relax and believe that I was “healing.” I was, after all, in a quiet room, on a table, in the semi dark, new agey music playing, smell of botanical oils or incense burning, of course I was relaxed. I’m glad it works for you but I truly believe it’s a placebo. I’m not saying acupuncturists are tricking everyone, I think they believe in their craft. But for me, it literally does not work. Nor do chinese herbs, nor “warming foods,” or anything else any acupuncturist told me to do. There is power in placebo for sure but I just got tired of paying hard earned money for it. I’d rather spend it on a massage.