Getting Acupuncture Isn’t as Bad as it Looks
I have really bad allergies. I'm talking itchy watery eyes, 500 sneezes a minute, and a runny faucet of a nose, 24–7. After seeing how miserable I had been feeling, a friend who swears by alternative medicine suggested I look into acupuncture treatments. I almost immediately turned that idea down; there was no way I was going to voluntarily let someone stick me with a million needles.
But then I was curious. I had never heard of acupuncture treating allergies, but since antihistamines weren’t really working for me, I decided that maybe it time to face my fears and give the traditional Chinese medicine route a shot. Below, I use my experience to answer some questions you might have about acupuncture treatments.
How does acupuncture work?
As outlined previously in an article by the The Guide, the treatment works by stimulating precise contact points that correlate to other areas of the body. This stimulation sends healing energy where it needs to go to clear blockages (such as the ones that cause allergies), and alleviate symptoms.
But even though I understood the basics of how acupuncture was supposed to work, I still needed some professional reassurance. My practitioner was awesome at calming my nerves and told me exactly what to expect. Before we began, he even did a little needling test to determine how sensitive my skin was and it turns out I wasn’t very sensitive at all (halleluja!).
Which leads me to the big question...
Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture needles are sterilized and hair-thin. When my eyes were closed, I couldn’t even really tell exactly where my practitioner was placing them—that's how virtually pain-free the process was. To to prevent any sudden movements from me, he told me where he was placing each needle before inserting them into my skin: on my forehead, nose, and cheek areas, and also down my arms and the back of my hands. Once he was done, he dimmed the lights, left the room and asked me to relax.
It’s important to note that although acupuncture doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t feel anything. All I felt was a slight pencil-poke feeling with no discomfort at all. The treatment is different for everyone and sensations of pressure, warmth or even mild aching are all totally normal. More importantly, they mean that the therapy is working.
Selfies are a bad idea.
I knew I wasn’t supposed to really move around so as to not disrupt the needles, but I couldn’t help myself... I was dying to see what I looked like! So I carefully reached for my phone and snapped a quick selfie. Bad idea. I freaked out a little when I saw myself because I looked like something straight out of a horror film. Thankfully though, it looked a lot worse than it actually felt. I was so calm and at ease that I'm pretty sure I fell asleep at some point.
Does it actually work?
As I lay there on my back with my eyes closed, listening to the soothing music, I could literally feel my sinuses clearing up. My nose slowly stopped dripping and I could actually breathe through it for the first time in days. I was amazed at how quickly acupuncture worked to relieve my symptoms!
For me, the cherry on top was that the results from one treatment proved to be effective for the entire season. Since then, I make it a point to go once a year right at the beginning of spring so that I can actually stop and smell the roses. Of course results can vary per person, but my only regret is not trying alternative therapies sooner.