From the mind of an acupuncture newbie, I must be honest. Though I am a firm proponent of Eastern medicine, I must confess that I do not possess a lot of first-hand knowledge of it. I should say that I am a fan of alternative medicine for the prevention and treatment of minor maladies for two main reasons: 1) It is not allopathic medicine and 2) It appears to be a more benign.
Though conventional allopathic medicine certainly has its place in our world, especially for acute situations, it sure has done a rotten job stymieing the growth of lifestyle chronic diseases. And it seems its only solution for any malady is a prescription medication, which of course, though may be therapeutic only brings a host of side-effects which run the gamut from minor to life-altering. As a whole alternative medicine as being more benign is that it tends to be less toxic and pernicious to the body than conventional.
Check out our Compendium of Alternative Treatments!
Most alternative medicine stems falls in two categories: botanical science and therapeutic practices. In the world of botanical science, an herbal remedy given to you by a naturopath at the worst may not work and at the best may cure you of your malady. Though there are exceptions, most herbal remedies will not exacerbate your health. With the therapeutic sciences, (e.g. acupuncture, acupressure, healing touch) the same may be said. At the worst you got a nice relaxing session that allowed you to relax; at the best you may be cured! Vis-a-vis acupuncture, the placement of the needles in key meridians allow the release of the blocked Chi to come out in its natural form.
- Read our article on “Natural Ways to Improve Your Sleep.” Or Listen to the podcast episode.
- Read our article on “4 Biohacks to Combat your Insomnia.” O Listen to the podcast episode.
This brings me to my confessions of an acupuncture newbie. As many of you know, I have dealt with some bad insomnia the last 18 months. Though it varies, I may get anywhere from 2-6 hours of sleep. (I have seriously contemplated beginning a new blog series about it since the thought-process of what causes these insomnia spells has been like is very difficult to condense into one article. I’m not going to discuss the intricacies of my insomnia in this blog per se, but rather the acupuncture session.)
Prior to last week’s session, I had never had an acupuncture session. All I knew of it, was what the Hollywood culture told me about it. Someone who puts tiny needles around your body to release blocked up energy. Dark, candle-lit rooms, Enya-inspired music, etc.
Well, it was a little like that! Naturopathic Doctor and licensed acupuncturist, Yvonne Knighton, invited me to a session to treat my insomnia. She knew I was loath to take a heavy sedative or sleeping pill, like Ambien. I was open to acupuncture, because as I mentioned earlier “What is the worst that could happen?” It could help and if it doesn’t, I’ll continue pursuing other options.
Listen to my interview of Dr. Knighton regarding naturopathy and acupuncture!
After checking my vitals and asking me questions, she checked my tongue and pulse. She mentioned my tongue was glossy and my pulse weak. I’m afraid most of the explanation she gave me as to what could be going on with my body, I have forgotten. Much of it was way over my head!
She asked me to take off my shirt and lay on by stomach. She offered to turn on the diffuser and play some music (no candles though). We chatted while she began the process. I was a little concerned yet intrigued by how these tiny needles would feel inserted into me. Dr. Knighton, who holds a Masters in Acupuncture, was swift yet delicate with her placement of the needles. You feel the tiniest of pricks but that is it. She proceeded to place needles on my shoulders, wrist, ankles, and feet. After she placed them all, I did began to feel a difference. In particular, I began to feel a warmth emanating through my forearm. I also began to feel my pulse pulsating through my forearm and legs.
After the placement of the needles, one is supposed to have 20 minutes or so of staying in position to feel its full benefit. Alas, I could only do about 5 minutes since I had to go across town to pick up my kids. Dr. Knighton scanned my body to ensure no needles remained. Upon rising, I felt really relaxed and a tad woozy. I had to gather my composure for a second. While driving I felt really relaxed. Almost as if I was on a natural way or under the influence of some sedative or THC (not that I have done that). Normally I get very stressed out in traffic but I was quite calm.
The moment of truth came at night. The previous night I had slept 5 hours. The two nights before 2 hours each so I really needed to sleep well. Three paragraphs in I fell asleep. Unfortunately, I awoke 2 hours later (perhaps because I forgot to turn off the lamp). Even more unfortunately, I was not able to sleep the remainder of the night. I was up at 12:30am and that was it. Do I think the acupuncture failed? No, I think my neurotic, overactive mind is more of the reason. So what do I think of my overall experience? I enjoyed it and I would do it again. I liked the way it made me feels. Could my positive result been psychosomatic? Like a placebo effect? Perhaps, it is hard to say. The mind is a very powerful thing.
Most of Western science looks askance at acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, PMS, and a host of other ailments. Why? Perhaps due to its Eastern origin, perhaps because there is a lack of empirical science to back it up, perhaps because Western medicine can’t profit from it.
Just explaining to someone the principle of how Chi runs throughout body makes people scoff. “Where is the proof they say?” I can understand their skepticism. The whole idea that there is a magical energy that regulates and controls our body that is not measurable is difficult to believe. But to quote Jesus when Thomas doubted his reappearance after the Resurrection “You believe only when you see…blessed are those who believe without seeing.”
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