I am sitting in a comfortable reclining chair with my feet up, my eyes closed, and soft music playing in the background. It has been about ten or fifteen minutes I am guessing. I am not asleep but I am very aware of how relaxed my body has become. I am sleepy and calm. I feel no tension. The headache that has plagued me for days has disappeared. I am not in a spa or on a beach. I am at my acupuncture appointment.

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog entry entitled Acupuncture Part One: The Experience in which I discuss my first ever experience with acupuncture. It has been almost six months since that entry, which was written about two months after my very first experience with acupuncture. All this time later, I am still amazed at the various benefits I have reaped from this form of Chinese medicine. The way my acupuncturist Ben, from The People’s Acupuncture Clinic, explains it is that in Western medicine (what we know as conventional health care here in the United States) it is the patient’s symptoms that are treated. In Chinese medicine, it is the entire body that is treated. That makes sense to me. When I go to the doctor complaining of difficulty breathing due to asthma, I am given an inhaler to reduce inflammation and open up my lungs. When I go to the acupuncturist, I have needles inserted and/or am given herbs which although may be targeted for these particular symptoms, also restore balance to my qi. The end result is that after several sessions or sometimes after even just one session, my body goes back to a balanced state. Instead of treating just the symptoms, we are treating the cause (the body’s imbalance) therefore overall restoring health.

My original purpose for starting acupuncture treatments was to help deal with symptoms related to an autoimmune disorder. Although my symptom list at that time was more extensive than most people’s grocery list, my primary focus was on alleviating the joint pain, fatigue, and difficulty breathing related to my autoimmune disorder. I knew from what Ben told me and what I had read online that even though positive effects from acupuncture can occur as soon as after the first treatment, it would probably take a bit longer for me, as many as twelve to fourteen sessions. I really wanted more symptom control and was interested in avoiding as many steroids and other autoimmune drugs as possible so I was committed to the long haul. I didn’t get sick overnight and I knew it might take some patience to get myself well.

It did work too. I started off by doing sessions almost every other day for the first ten-fourteen days, then to twice a week, and eventually to a point where I go every two weeks unless there is an acute issue. As a somewhat skeptical Western medicine health care professional myself, I was quite surprised at the results. My joint pain which I had been managing with heavy duty autoimmune drugs was improved with taking Motrin and not all that frequently even. I did still have some difficult days but found that between the acupuncture and other non-medication pain management techniques, I could get through those tough days. I was sleeping better and having an easier time of handling the autoimmune related fatigue that could cripple me for most of the afternoon. After we added some prescribed Chinese herbs to my acupuncture sessions, I had much better control over my asthma symptoms. I went from being on oral steroids, a steroid inhaler, and a frequently used rescue inhaler to just a smaller dose of the steroid inhaler and a very occasional use of my rescue inhaler. I even started singing in my church choir, something I had always wanted to do!

There was also other autoimmune symptoms that improved, some autoimmune related, some not, and some where it was anybody’s best guess. Middle back pain that had plagued me on and off (mostly on!) for over a year finally went away. Some of my dryness symptoms related to the autoimmune disorder, called Sjogren’s Syndrome, got better. Other issues such as seasonal allergies, sinus inflammation/infections, and an injured knee improved or even disappeared. It has gotten to the point where if I have a medical issue, I typically will actually meet with my acupuncturist first before seeking medical attention from a western medical doctor because over and over again, I see positive results without unnecessary medications, tests, and such. My biggest success was managing to stay off the steroid prednisone for almost six months after I started acupuncture treatments. Prior to that, I was on it on at least ten separate occasions, lasting anywhere from days to months, within a time span of approximately two years. I think it is important to state that I am not implying here though if I thought I was having a heart attack that I would go to my acupuncturist before heading to an emergency room. I strongly believe that there is a place, in my life at least, for some Western medicine. However, I am making a concentrated effort to reserve Western medicine for emergency type situations only, as much as I possibly can.

I have also experienced many benefits from acupuncture that do not have to do only with physical symptoms. My loved ones as well as I have noticed a significant difference in my stress level and how I cope with everyday issues, as well as crises. Now, I have also had other positive lifestyle changes which could contribute to this and I have not done an actual research analysis on myself. However since I started my treatments last November, I am much slower to anger. Things that used to frustrate the living hell out of me are no longer such a big deal. Anxiety over tests and procedures has dropped dramatically and I am much more flexible in my interactions with other people. I know some of this, if not most of it, is related to the acupuncture sessions because I can physically feel my body relax about ten minutes or so into my treatment. I have gone to sessions immediately after attending a friend’s funeral or during other stressful times to find myself leaving the building in a better frame of mind and with clearer thinking. I don’t need research studies to prove that!

Finally, the last benefit I would like to mention is that which is gained from working with a Chinese medicine practitioner. Ben is the only one I have ever seen so I don’t have a basis for comparison. That being said, I do have a basis of comparison with western medicine practitioners. In all fairness, I have had a few really great doctors in my lifetime. I have worked with some fantastic doctors as well. However the last few years have been like a three ring circus for me in dealing with doctors. Oftentimes I am just a person taking up a ten minute slot in their exam room. I have been treated like a number with no regards to the emotional or mental impact that my illness has had on my wellbeing. Of the twenty-five or so doctors and specialists I have dealt with in the past two and a half years, not one has ever discussed the role of nutrition with me in regards to my autoimmune disorder. More often than not, I am looked at as a compilation of various anatomical systems and symptoms rather than as a whole person.

In my acupuncture clinic, I am treated holistically and with compassion. Despite the fact that it is a clinic and I may be one of seven or eight other people in the room, I never feel rushed or disrespected. I am taken seriously and just as important, I am heard. It is truly a collaboration between patient and practitioner. The success of my treatments depends on my ability to communicate what is going on with my body and Ben’s ability to translate that in order to provide the best treatment. For me, that is truly the ideal environment for optimal healing and optimal health.

-Christine

Belchertown, Massachusetts
http://www.christinemolloy.com/2011/07/acupuncture-part-two-benefits.html
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Tiny Needle Community Acupuncture, LLC.
Cincinnati, OH

TinyNeedleAcu.com

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