The road to wellness isn't straight, clear, or predictable. It's a path you forge yourself.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Acupuncture 101

A friend of mine recently told me about her mother who has had some success with acupuncture for migraines, so I decided to try it.  It can't hurt, right?  (Well, at least not as much as my headaches do!)

I made an appointment for this morning at 10:30 am.  Coincidentally, I had a migraine on the left side of my head when I woke up this morning so I almost canceled.  Then I thought, "now's my chance to see if it actually makes me feel better."  So I dragged myself over there.

The acupuncturist I saw (I'll call him Dr. Needle) seemed very professional and seemed like he knew what he was talking about.  He asked lots of questions before we began and he really listened to my answers.  Dr. Needle's questions helped me realize that I actually have had some improvement in my migraines since I started my crazy diet.  (no wheat, dairy, or sugar)  I was feeling frustrated because the frequency hasn't seemed to diminish at all.  BUT - the intensity isn't as bad and the duration isn't as long these days.  I used to spend the day crying and throwing up whenever I had a migraine.  I haven't had one like that in months.  Also, if I'm going to have a migraine, I'll always wake up with it.  It used to last until 6 or 7 at night but lately, it goes away around 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  That's improvement!  I hadn't really thought about it until Dr. Needle's questioning.  It confirmed in my mind that I'm on the right track.

I have to say, having needles stuck in you doesn't really hurt at all!  It just feels like someone is flicking you lightly with their fingers.  There were two places which burned slightly when Dr. Needle put the needles in, but I told him and he adjusted them.  I didn't really feel them after that.  He put 14 needles in total:  two in each foot, two in each shin, one in each knee, two in each hand, one on either side of my neck, one in the middle of my forehead, and one the top, left side of my head (exactly where it was hurting).  The idea is to disrupt and redirect the energy flow in the body.  It sounds a little hocus-pocus but a lot of people swear by it and it has been around a long time so there must be something in it.

After the needles were in, the doctor left the room for 20 minutes.  I laid there on the table with all the needles in, with pillows under my head, legs, and each arm.  It kind of felt like I was floating on a cloud.  After 20 minutes, Dr. Needle came and removed the needles and I barely felt it at all.  He then did some shiatsu massage on my neck, shoulders, and ears - reaching the pressure points there.

 I would like to say that my headache immediately went away and I felt great, but that's not how it works.  For chronic conditions you have to go back a few times, and there is a cumulative effect.  Dr. Needle gave me some Chinese herbs to take twice a day for a month or so.  He says we're correcting an imbalance in the body so this isn't something I have to take forever. 

The pain was still there when I left, but I did notice my nausea (and other stomach issues which accompany the migraine which I won't go into) had subsided.  Also, I usually see auras and/or trailers and that had gone away too.  So there was  improvement even though the pain was still there.  The pain didn't go away until 5:00 pm, but that's about when it usually stops. 

The verdict:
I think there is something in this and I am hopeful that it will work.  My shoulders feel less tense than they did this morning.  I have another appointment for Friday and I will keep you posted.  Has anyone else had experiences (good or bad) with acupuncture?


  1. Do keep us posted. I've also thought it sounded hocus pocus BUT I'm a firm believer that we don't know everything so why not give it a shot? Good luck!

  2. Thanks! I forgot to say that Dr. Needle also took my pulse in each wrist and looked at my tongue before we began. I'm not sure exactly what he was looking for but apparently it helps him know where to put the needles. He said my tongue was pale and was whitish on top which means I had a lack of Qi (life energy - pronouced "chee") flow. Who knows if it will work, but I'm willing to give it a shot!