How to Prepare for Your First Acupuncture Treatment

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Not everyone is familiar with acupuncture and its process, and for many, it seems mysterious and unfamiliar, and even a bit scary or intimidating.  After all, there are needles involved, but please let me assure you, that in the right practitioner’s hands, you will experience no pain or discomfort, and you’ll leave your acupuncture session feeling calm, relaxed, and recharged.  This is the goal at Phoenix Rising Acupuncture: to feel better when you leave than when you walk in.

 So, how can you make the best of your acupuncture session? 

 Here are some ways to best be prepared before your first acupuncture treatment:

·      Set aside adequate time for yourself.  Normally, the initial appointment is extended, allowing for time and discussion with your Acupuncturist.  This usually includes a full medical evaluation, health history intake, and treatment plan discussion in addition to the acupuncture treatment itself. 

·      Notify your acupuncturist of any concerns or fears you may have.

·      Be prepared to ask your acupuncturist questions.  This is new, after all, so clear, open and honest communication is key to your wellness path. The acupuncturist will likely discuss your condition, your treatment plan, and other things like herbal therapy and nutritional advice.

·      Eat a light meal or healthy protein snack about 1-2 hours prior to acupuncture, as acupuncture is known to lower blood sugar.  (This makes acupuncture an excellent modality to help regulate blood sugar, but that’s for another blog post.)

·      Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and (if possible) pain medications before your treatment. 

·      Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Unlike other types of body work, like massage, clothes stay on.  Most acupuncture points are located below the elbows and knees, so short-sleeves and loose pants and shorts are appropriate attire.

·      Turn off the phone.  By scheduling your appointment as much-needed “me time”, it’s important that all distractions are off.  This may be the only hour you have to yourself without calls, texts, emails, and other bings and zings that cause distraction.  Allow yourself to rest, rejuvenate, and reset.

 There are some after-treatment considerations as well…

·      Rest.  Take it easy.  Listen to your body.  Everyone responds differently to acupuncture. Feelings can range from elation and energized to calm and meditative to drowsy and “floaty”.  During and after each acupuncture session, your body is undergoing a deep healing experience, so it is best to not schedule intense workouts or long runs, but light exercise is fine, if you feel like it.

·      Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and screen time.  Acupuncture is doing its best to heal as it balances hormones, regulates the nervous system, decreases inflammation, and more.  Alcohol, caffeine, screen time, and over activity can inhibit the healing process, so plan to do some self-care after acupuncture.  Unplug.

·      Eat healthy food.  Best to refrain from sugar, fried foods and dairy.  Healthy food choices help facilitate the healing of acupuncture. If you need some ideas of what is best for you, your acupuncturist can offer you appropriate nutritional guidance.

·      Stay hydrated.  Any acupuncturist is going to tell you to drink plenty of room temperature or warm water.  (Cold damages the digestive system and can slow metabolism.)

·      Enjoy your renewed sense of calm.  Your body will love you for it.

Lori Earley