Inside Acupuncture, Part I

After a conversation with my extended family and hearing my Uncle finally experienced migraine relief with a few acupuncture sessions, I thought I’d ask my acupuncturist friend Jaymie Hettler for some feedback:

1. What is acupuncture?  Acupuncture and other aspects of Oriental Medicine (including cupping, moxibustion, herbal medicines, tui na, etc.) are healing modalities that pre-date recorded history and are used to correct imbalance in the body.  Our modern lives place great amounts of physical and emotional stress on our bodies; Oriental medicine can help us find balance in an imbalanced world.  Acupuncture can stimulate relaxation of both body (muscle tension, aches, and pains) and mind (stress, depression, and anxiety), hormone and nervous system regulation, weight loss, allergy and digestive difficulties, sleep problems, fatigue or hyperactivity, hypertension, acne and skin problems.

Tip:  Oriental Medicine treats the whole person and symptoms usually occur in a group.  So although your symptoms may be treated directly in order to make you more comfortable, the root cause is always addressed because without clearing it, the symptom will always come back.  We call this root and branch treatment: the symptoms are the branch, while the underlying cause is the root; we will almost always treat both.  People are usually totally unaware of what their root imbalance is, but clearing it can clear up numerous seemingly unrelated symptoms.

2. Training: Titles are granted on a state to state basis.  "Acupuncturist" and "Licensed Acupuncturist" are titles granted in other states; we in NM and one other state are lucky enough to be granted the title "Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM)" as our state title.  When searching for a local DOM, be certain to ask if they are both nationally (NCCAOM) and state licensed to practice (have passed all state boards and completely continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain their license).  In order to obtain these licenses, a practitioner must have completed a board-certified course of training, including at least a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine and extensive clinical experience, as well as passing a series of national written exams and a state practical exam (unique to NM).

Tip:  Discuss with them your reason for making an appointment and their experience in that area; also ask practitioners what kind of success rates they’ve seen as well as for referrals if you still feel uncomfortable.

3. Environment:  Treatment is typically lying either face-up or face-down on a massage table with pillows for support.  The insertion of needles takes approximately 5-15 minutes depending on the depth of treatment and modalities involved.  If necessary, ask your practitioner to adjust the pillows or your position so you are as comfortable as possible.  If you feel too warm or cold, let your practitioner know so they can open a window, change the thermostat, cover you with a blanket, or place an infrared heating lamp over your feet. We appreciate feedback….it helps us help you!  After all your needles are inserted and your practitioner has been assured of your comfort, you will relax for 20-30 minutes.

Tip:  The needles should not feel uncomfortable or in any way inhibit your relaxation.  If something doesn’t feel right, ask for the needles to be adjusted…

Tomorrow, Part II: Expectations, Diagnosis/Prescription, Cost, and 3 more tips...