No doubt you’ve heard of acupuncture and have probably had (or are considering) a session with an acupuncturist. It’s a practice that even ten years ago may have seemed more fringe but as more people find results and healing in “alternative” medicine — acupuncture has exploded not just in wellness but also in traditional healthcare. In the spirit of merging science and wisdom, we dive deep into the origins and benefits of acupuncture as well as practical advice on finding an acupuncturist and self-acupressure points to use at home.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a widely used wellness practice that has unlimited benefits. This wellness practice dates back 3,000 years and is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practice. However, it has found its way into cultures and countries across the globe.
The Philosophy of Acupuncture
Chinese acupuncture aims to work naturally with your body to balance your qi (energy) and return your body to homeostasis. It improves the body’s functions and promotes natural self healing. The treatment looks at the body in terms of qi, which is the energy that flows through the body. Specifically, the two opposing forces that are yin and yang. There are so many benefits to acupuncture, ranging from calming the body to improving focus.
What Symptoms Can Acupuncture Treat?
Acupuncture is a holistic treatment, so it can approve a lot of symptoms.
Some of the main benefits include improving focus, balancing chakras, healing ancestral trauma, optimizing fertility, speeding up recovery, and relieving headaches.
Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system, and can relieve tension in areas where tightness can cause body aches and headaches. Acupuncture as a whole promotes homeostasis in your body, bringing your body into optimal balance and alignment. Acupuncture also opens up energy channels and clears blockages, which can balance chakras that have become out of balance.
What To Expect in a Session
An acupuncture session typically involves a conversation with your acupuncturist to pinpoint specific symptoms you would like to address, followed by the needling treatment. The treatment focuses on certain pressure points that align with the body’s energy meridians. Each point can target a certain part of the body, or work on the body as a whole. The needles are then placed into the body, using small needles so that the sensation is minimal. The needles are then left for a period of time before they are again taken out. Acupuncture sessions are very relaxing, and oftentimes people fall asleep during them and wake up feeling more centered and calm. You can expect to leave an acupuncture session feeling some relief of acute symptoms, but it may take longer to start to notice the benefits. Some people feel very relaxed after acupuncture, and others may feel very energized.
How To Find a Local Acupuncturist
Unfortunately, needle acupuncture is not a form of healing that can be done remotely and it is best to find someone you trust in your area. Although obvious sounding, when looking for a practitioner, it is important to find a person who is trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine — not just dry needling or some other variation. TCM is an in depth and rigorous discipline and in some countries, it requires up to seven years of study (or more). Equally, as with choosing any type of practitioner, it’s important to find someone who listens to you and feels aligned with your body and your goals.
If you are unable to experience an acupuncture session, there are ways to utilize the benefits of acupuncture in your home. Self-acupressure is a simple way to utilize some of the benefits of acupuncture anywhere, and at no cost. It is a method of activating the body’s self healing properties, stimulating the body at certain energy meridians. When activating a pressure point, be sure to use firm pressure and hold for at least five seconds. A few common pressure points:
- For digestion: find your belly button, and from there find the point where your ribs come together, where there will be a soft indent. If you draw a line from the point where your ribs meet to your belly button, the pressure point is in the center of this line.
- For stress: The three mile pressure point is located about two-finger widths below your knee, and four-finger widths towards the outside area of your leg. Using your finger, press down for at least 30 seconds, to regulate energy flow, increase concentration, and relieve fatigue.
- For sinus pressure: press down on the space between your eyebrows for at least 30 seconds, moving your finger in circular motions.
As with all healing modalities, acupuncture is not always recommended for everyone. If you have a bleeding disorder, are on blood thinners, use a pacemaker, or have a seizure disorder, avoid any self-acupressure and check in with a licensed practitioner to see if acupuncture is right for you at this time. However, if you are pregnant, acupuncture is not off the cards and can actually be very beneficial, again, as long as you are working with a licensed provider and preferably has experience treating pregnant women. Other than that, acupuncture is safe and can have a range of benefits from emotional to physical, subtle to profound, and is absolutely worth exploring if you’re facing any form of health challenge.
Ali Parsons graduated from The University of Washington with a degree in Media & Communications. She is passionate about nutrition, health, and wellness and is currently in the process of becoming a Registered Dietitian. Ali enjoys cooking, running, yoga, hiking and travel!