Ever wonder how you can get more out of your acupuncture investment? If so, read on, dear reader! Here are six easy ways that you can optimize your treatment outcomes.
1) Make sure you've had something to eat before coming in.
Because acupuncture moves so much of your body's natural energy supply, it is very important to have eaten a small meal or snack prior to treatment. If there is no food in your system or if you feel hungry during treatment you may feel weak, nauseous, light headed, or dizzy during the time the needles are in or following their removal.
2) Avoid large amounts of caffeine prior to treatment.
Energetically speaking, caffeine scatters your body's Qi. Acupuncture, on the other hand, is concerned with the smooth and even flow of this energy. In moderate quantities, caffeine is just fine. However, in order to get the most out of your session you might want to skip the second (or third, or fourth...) cup of coffee the morning of treatment.
3) Set aside adequate time for your appointment.
Do your best to avoid rushing to get to the office for your appointment. The stress involved in this scenario is another way that smooth energy flow is compromised. If possible, arrive several minutes before your scheduled appointment time so you can sit and relax, meditate, and focus on your breathing (hold that thought – more on this in just a minute) before your practitioner is ready to take you in to get started. Your acupuncturist will no doubt appreciate your punctuality; but more importantly, you will be in the perfect state of mind for a great treatment.
4) Try diaphragmatic breathing during needle insertion.
Especially beneficial for those of us who are needle-sensitive, this technique will help focus your brain on breathing rather than the pinch of the needle. Don't stop your breath at your chest – make sure you can feel your stomach rise and fall with each breath. Diaphragmatic breathing gets more oxygen into your bloodstream – and if your body is well-oxygenated, more Qi will be free to move!
5) Use the power of positive thought.
So often underrated, the brain-body connection is much stronger than we ever give it credit for. Meditative thought can aid the body into going into a relaxed state much faster. Again, relaxation while the needles are in is key here. Anxiousness and negative thought patterns, on the other hand, tend to restrict smooth qi flow. Try using your favorite affirmation (I like “I am whole and healing”, but you can personalize it however you see fit), positive thought, prayer, and/or mantra.
6) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
It is always important to drink water. It is especially important to drink water after an acupuncture session. All it takes is one or two glasses of room temperature water within about an hour of treatment. Some patients experience a mild detoxification reaction (also known as a healing crisis) due to all the energy that gets shifted around during the course of a treatment. Post-treatment hydration is helpful in moderating or alleviating these reactions by flushing these toxins from your body.
Michael A. Sassack is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist serving the northwest suburbs of Chicago.