Although many fear hospital needles, those used in acupuncture are much less scary. Check out Groupon’s examination of acupuncture needles to ease any lingering aichmophobia.
Acupuncture generally doesn’t draw blood—a testament to the skill of professional acupuncturists but also to the special needles they use. Unlike the needles commonly feared by hospital-goers, acupuncture needles are thin enough to slip through the skin without breaking any blood vessels. Although most are roughly the thickness of a hair or a pixie’s wand, they come in several varieties for different treatment types: thinner needles provide less stimulation and are often used for children or the elderly; shorter needles treat the head and face; and longer needles (up to 5 inches long) target the thighs and other fleshy areas to reach points along the body’s theoretical energy pathways, known as meridians.
Filiform needles are the most common, comprising a stainless-steel wire sharpened at one end and wrapped at the other to form a handle. With a quick, skilled hand—or the aid of an insertion tube—practitioners insert the tip just beneath the skin’s surface, and although a small prickle may be felt, once the needles are in, the patient shouldn’t feel them at all. Today, most acupuncturists use disposable needles due to their safety and simplicity, but some may use reusable steel or even gold needles, sterilizing them between use in the same way doctors or guitarists do their instruments.
The practice of acupuncture stretches back more than 5,000 years, well before stainless steel was a household commodity. Archaeologists have dug up traces of the implements early healers used to get energy, or chi, flowing properly through the body: sharpened stones were a popular choice, as were delicate needles of bone.
Guided by family traditions of holistic medicine and respect for nature, Pamela Reynolds helps restore her client's health at Inspired Thru Nature, a natural health center that specializes in colon hydrotherapy. A family history of digestive disorders informs Pamela's practice, and many of her treatments aim to detox the digestive tract and return the body to its natural, healthy state through methods such as ionic footbaths, infrared-sauna sessions, body wraps, and ear candling. Irodology, one of Pamela's signature treatments, uses noninvasive technology to examine the iris, which provides pointed insights into overall health and celebrity-lookalike matches.
Inside an unassuming brick building, Ridgely Retreat takes its name seriously. The multifaceted spa, wellness center, and yoga studio offers mental escapes in the form of hot-stone massages and meditation classes as well as physical relief in the form of acupuncture and chiropractic services. The eclectic yoga offerings range from gentle and Vinyasa classes to yoga dance, wine-and-cheese yoga, children’s yoga, and the newly added aerial yoga. On the spa side, services such as glycolic peels and Fraxel laser resurfacing flaunt a modern edge, though the cherry-blossom facial, detox body wrap, and warm bamboo treatment let clients experience the kind of classic relaxation enjoyed by hedonistic pandas the world over.
Zenscape Spa’s signature treatment is a perfect reflection of their blend of Eastern and Western wellness techniques: the service integrates reflexology, Swedish massage, trigger-point therapy, and aromatherapy. Of course, practitioners can also focus in on any one of these techniques. Chinese acupressure is modeled after acupuncture, but swaps out needles for finger pressure in order to stimulate pressure points and help boost energy. Focused on the hands and feet, reflexology stimulates key pressure points to address such concerns as indigestion, fatigue, and separation anxiety from socks, and can be paired with an herbal foot sauna. Clients await their treatment in a room awash with warm magentas, bright green plants, and a literal invitation to "relax" scrawled on the main wall.