So you’re thinking of having acupuncture and would like to know what happens during a session.
What questions will you be asked? Where will the needles go? Does it hurt?
Im going to answer all these questions for you:
- I’d like to try acupuncture, does it hurt?
- Why do I need to stick out my tongue?
- What does your face say about you?
- Let’s take your pulse!
- Do the needles hurt?
- Where will the needles go?
- Do you use any other modalities during a treatment?
- How will I feel after treatment?
- Is there anything I should or shouldn’t do before or after a treatment?
- Is there any homework?
- What is Chinese dietary therapy?
- How many sessions will I need?
- Let me know if I have missed anything!
Although every treatment is an individual experience the following information is a general format of which most initial treatments follow.
First things first
Every acupuncture treatment starts with a thorough consultation. We start by discussing your main reason for seeking treatment.
Usually, the answer is that someone is looking for help with a physical condition such as menstrual irregularities, back pain or sciatica.
However, since acupuncture has become increasingly well known for its beneficial effects on mental and emotional conditions. People also come for help if they are suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression.
Occasionally people have been inspired to seek treatment as they have listened to their friends and families experience of acupuncture, and simply want to try it!
Whatever the initial reasons for seeking acupuncture we move on to a general discussion regarding your overall health.
Why all the questions?
It may same strange that when you tell me you would like help with your painful periods I begin asking you about your digestive health. The reason for this is that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic method of healing.
It believes that no aspect of our health exists in isolation, that every organ in our body is related to another, and that our physical body and symptoms are affected by our thoughts, emotions, spirit, and environment.
The reason for your suffering from a specific health complaint may be completely different to the reason that someone else suffers from the same complaint.
The questions help me to form an accurate diagnosis in accordance with Chinese medicines principles. Which helps me to decide on specific acupuncture points that will rebalance your health.
Why do I need to stick out my tongue?
As well as carefully listening to your symptoms there are other ways that your body can show me the origin of your health condition.
For starters, we ask to look at your tongue. Why? Well according to TCM each area of your tongue corresponds to a particular organ.
From this, we can gain a deeper understanding as to which area of your body needs attention in order to rebalance your energy system.
For example, is the tip of your tongue red? This may mean we need to work on the Qi of your heart. Is your tongue red with no coating? We may need to release excess heat through specific acupuncture points. Are there any cracks such as a deep central line? We may need to work on your digestive system.
What does your face say about you?
Facial diagnosis is a fascinating component of TCM. We take into account various factors such as whether your skin is dry or oily, if you are prone to redness, or are very pale.
As with tongue diagnosis, each area of the face corresponds to a specific organ.
Examples of this are that when the chin is affected this implies that there is a hormonal imbalance, and the jawline is associated with the large intestine. I often see spots or rashes in this area in people who have blockages in their digestive system.
How is the area between your eyebrows? this area is controlled by the liver and if you see redness or frown lines becoming more apparent, your liver may need some attention.
Let’s take your pulse!
Like the tongue, your pulse can also provide us with useful information about the condition of your internal organs.
On both wrists there are a total of 6 different pulse positions. Each of these pulses can tell us what is happening on the inside of your body. For example, how your digestive system is functioning, if you coming down with a cold, and how your overall energy is doing.
Do the needles hurt?
The needles that we use for acupuncture are incredibly fine and very unlike needles that you may have had for blood tests or vaccinations.
Peoples experience of acupuncture does vary, but commonly people report that they feel a dull ache at the site of the needle. This is a beneficial sign form a practitioner’s viewpoint, as it means that we have contacted your “Qi”
People also describe feeling a rush of energy along the meridian of which the acupuncture point lies. Most of my clients enjoy this feeling and find it fascinating to be able to feel exactly were the meridian flows.
Some people are a little more sensitive and feel a small prick as the needles go in, and in contrast others who have a less sensitive constitution feel very little.
Where will the needles go?
Acupuncture is always a bespoke treatment. The choice of acupuncture points that will be selected for you will depend on what you are having acupuncture for, and on other information regarding your general health that we have discussed during your consultation.
Many times we choose acupuncture points below the elbow and knee. But in a case of, for instance, lower back pain we will probably use acupuncture points close to the location of your pain as well.
Through a combination of acupuncture points, our aim is to simultaneously address the “root of your imbalance” as well as symptoms that you experience from it.
Do you use any other modalities during a treatment?
Yes, acupuncture is one modality of Chinese Medicine along with herbal medicine, moxibustion, and cupping.
Cupping is a technique that involves placing glass, plastic or bamboo cups on an area of the body such as the back or shoulder. The cups create a suction which causes the skin and the superficial muscle layer to be gently drawn into the cup.
The benefits of cupping include: relaxing tight muscles, relieving back pain, improving blood flow, helping to prevent colds and relieving symptoms of asthma.
Electroacupuncture is another technique that I sometimes employ when it is appropriate during a treatment.
Tiny clips are attached to the acupuncture needles and a small electrical current is passed through, creating stimulation. Electroacupuncture is especially useful in conditions where somebody experiences chronic pain.
How will I feel after treatment?
Usually, very, very relaxed! Due to acupunctures ability to switch the nervous system into parasympathetic mode, a lot of people feel a pleasant and serine feeling following an acupuncture treatment.
Some people can feel a little drowsy but this passes quickly. For a few, they can feel suddenly really motivated to get things done!
It isn’t unusual when I see people at their second session for them to tell me that they have started to work through there to do list. This has included, for example, going home and decluttering their house!
This happens because acupuncture helps to free blockages in our energy (Qi). When these blockages are released we are able to move forward and we can experience more flow in our lives.
Is there anything I should or shouldn’t do before or after a treatment?
Yes, before a session it’s a good idea to make sure you have eaten but avoid eating a large meal. This is so that you are comfortable lying down, also try not to have too much caffeine.
After treatment, you will likely feel pretty relaxed. So it would be lovely if you could plan your treatment at a time when you don’t have to rush anywhere afterwards.
It’s also advisable not to drink alcohol for several hours after treatment. And to make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Acupuncture encourages detoxification and good hydration will help the process.
Is there any homework.
Yes, I probably wouldn’t call it homework but there are often beneficial lifestyle adjustments you can make to support your healing. We can discuss these during your treatment.
This is because I want you to progress as quickly as possible, and what you do and don’t do in between acupuncture sessions can have a substantial impact on your healing.
One of the most profound ways that we can positively influence your health is by incorporating the teachings of Chinese dietary therapy as part of our treatment protocol.
What is Chinese dietary therapy?
The food that we eat, when we eat and how we eat is of paramount importance according to Chinese Medicine and can hugely impact your health and healing.
The principle of Chinese dietary therapy is that each food has an energetic quality that will either positively or negatively affect your health. The state of your current health and your constitutional health will determine which foods are best for you.
We can also discuss how you respond to stress. This is because stress in some cases can lead to a health condition or at the very least it can exacerbate an existing health problem.
If we feel that this is a contributing factor in your case we can discuss techniques such as specific breathing exercises that will help to reduce the negative consequences on your health from stress.
How many sessions will I need?
There isn’t a universal answer to this question as every client comes with a different ailment and a different level of overall health.
That said, we can get a good idea of how many sessions that you will need by gaining a deeper insight into your current health during your first appointment.
There is a saying in holistic medicine that you need to treat for a month for every year of illness.
Although I don’t completely subscribe to this theory I do agree that the longer that you have suffered from a condition the longer the course of treatment.
For example, if a client presents with sciatica that they developed a few weeks ago, they may well notice a very quick improvement in their condition often within 1-2 treatments.
Conversely, if a client presents with significant menstrual pain that they have suffered from for years the treatment schedule is likely to be much longer. In chronic conditions like these, a course of 6 weekly acupuncture session is common practice to help activate your body’s self-healing abilities.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t notice changes along the way and your progress is regularly reviewed.
Let me know if I have missed anything!
These are the most common questions that I am usually asked before acupuncture treatment. If you have another question that I haven’t covered then please let me know