Acupuncture has been a part of my life for many years. I have used it for everything from plantar fasciitis to the flu. I recently went in for help with a nagging, lingering cough. I was really looking forward to this acupuncture treatment since it meant an hour of my day with no interruptions from kids, email, Facebook or Twitter and hopefully some relief from my cough. I was ready.
WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture originated in China more than 2,500 years ago and has been used to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, as well as to improve general health. Through the insertion of needles into pressure points around the body, acupuncture helps the flow of energy (known as qi or chi) throughout the body.
DOES IT HURT?
Most people associate needles with getting an injection or having blood drawn, which can be painful. Acupuncture needles are incredibly thin- not much thicker than hair. They are not like the needles used for shots, which are hollow for the medicine or the withdrawal of blood. Acupuncture needles don’t hurt-honest! Sometimes I feel a slight burst of energy when the needle is inserted, but I wouldn’t call it painful.
During the initial treatment a health form is usually filled out and there is a short consultation to discuss any issues. I was lead into my treatment room and left to make myself comfortable lying on a massage table. Before the needle treatment began, my practitioner checked my pulse in three places. Then needles went in without much awareness on my end. I was left to relax in the room with the needles strategically placed all over my body and soft music playing. After a bit the needles were removed and I was asked to flip over onto my belly. Again, the needles were placed and I was left to relax. Needles removed and all done.
WHY USE ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture can be used for a wide variety of conditions. Some of the main reasons for using it are:
- Drug-free pain relief
- Assists prevention against disease
- Treats the cause as well as the symptoms
- Holistic approach to illness, linking body, mind and emotions
- Effectively treats many common ailments
HOW TO FIND A PRACTITIONER
Most states require a license to practice acupuncture. If you live in the U.S. , you can find a practitioner by visiting the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and typing in your address. Note: only a few practitioners came up when I typed in my address and I know there are many more. Also, check with your health insurance provider for practitioners and to see if acupuncture is covered.
WHAT IS CUPPING?
After my acupuncture treatment it was time for some cupping. Cupping is a method of relieving local congestion by applying a partial vacuum that is created in a cup(s), either by heat or by suction. The end result is a reddish purple bruising where the cups were placed. Cupping became quite fashionable in 2004 when actress Gweneth Paltrow stepped out onto the red carpet bearing what appeared to be bruising on her back.
The cupping left big bruises on my back as well-hopefully an indication that the cough was on its way out.
Still coughing….but with the help of some western meds (I finally broke!) the acupuncture and cupping seem to be helping me bid adieu to the cough.
Have you tried acupuncture? Are you willing to give it a try?
*Top photo used under Creative Commons from NYCTCM