It took me a mere five minutes on Google Scholar to find research supporting acupuncture as an effective modality to treat:
- Chronic low-back pain
- Tension headache
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Post-operative nausea and vomiting
I believe it. As a migraine sufferer, I whole-heartedly believe it, and my experiences show me that others believe it as well.
Yesterday I had a migraine, and it had been two days. I used to fight through it, miserable the whole time, until finally it subsided on its own. A steady yoga practice, I believe, has reduced the frequency and severity quite dramatically, but every once and awhile, one will strike. I let it go one day and if it’s not gone the second, I see my acupuncturist. I go to a community acupuncture clinic with a sliding scale. A visit costs between $15 and $35 per visit – I get to decide how much I’m able to pay. But really, if I can leave an hour later without a headache (and rested from a mid-day nap), it’s worth so much more.
Yesterday I showed up at my appointment, in pain and just kind of exhausted. My acupuncturist checked over my records from past visits and there is definitely a theme – same symptoms, same location, same accompanying symptoms (low energy, poor sleep, etc). He checked my pulse and started to put needles in where they needed to go. I won’t lie and say you can’t feel them – sometimes they hurt, at least at first, but it makes perfect sense to me why.
Our bodies are made up of energy, the space around our bodies is energy (aura), and the entire universe is energy. Got that?! It’s hard to describe with words, and even when done successfully, is so far outside of the Western paradigm that it falls on unaccepting ears. All I can speak to is my experience. I used to not get it. Then I got it. Now I really get it. I used to get shivers, or feel tingly sensations, but I didn’t realize those physical sensations were really just the feeling of energy movment within my body. It began to make sense in my yoga practice first, when I’d feel almost cold and shivery, but only on one leg or my head, but no other parts of my body. That’s when I thought, well clearly I’m not cold, what is this? Once I tapped into that sensation, I began to just pay attention to it, and in that, my sensitivity has skyrocketed.
Fast-track back to acupuncture. The tiny needles are inserted into known channels of energy in our bodies. When the needle hits the spot, it triggers movement and when I feel a jolt when the needle goes in, I attribute that sensation to the needles awakening some stagnant energy (which could be causing the blockages and pain in the first place). The pain of the needles doesn’t last, and then the fun begins.
As I lay in my recliner, covered neck to toes in blankets, resting in the darkness, listening to the musical selection of the day, I can feel my energy working. Some days it’s subtle, like a gentle ebb and flow, like the movement of water. Others it’s wild and erratic. I like the wild and erratic because I feel like something is happening. As I lay there, I wonder if everyone else is having an experience similar to mine. I suspect no, since most people aren’t tapped into their energies. But maybe they get it- I have no idea. After one particular wild energetic ride, I told my acupuncturist that it was crazy and he smiled and said, “The weirder the better.” I think I’m in good company with him.
After an hour of feeling my energy move, and perhaps napping, I wake to the needles being removed. I then put my shoes on and go about my day. Yesterday I left with no headache, no leftover neck pain, nothing. The fatigue, nausea and sleeplessness was gone too. I felt amazing. I’ve decided that me random headaches are just a sign that I need an energetic tune-up. Many people go to acupuncture for specific ailments, which it’s great for, but I also think it’s a wonderful way to just get everything working properly again – kind of like an oil change for your car.
Now, acupuncture isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth a try. It’s inexpensive, effective and has very minimal side effects and risks (none for me). I’m always a little surprised when I go and half of the people there are elderly. I often wonder who referred them, and if they understand what’s happening, or if they care, and if they are getting better. What I do know is that acupuncture has been around for a very long time, but the research on it is undecided. I asked another acupuncturist about that once and she said, which is true of many holistic practitioners, who cares what’s doing it as long as it’s working. She then said that researchers like to consider it nothing more than the placebo effect, but the fact that acupuncture is highly effective on animals, who don’t understand placebo, means something.
You decide for yourself! What do you think about acupuncture?