How to Maximize Your Acupuncture Treatments

By Barbara Poczyniak, R.Ac

min read

Maybe you’ve already “tried acupuncture” for a problem at some point – and it did not work.  Although I’m a huge fan of acupuncture, I realize it may not work for everyone, every single time.  However, there are ways to improve the odds and get much more out of this therapy.  Acupuncture can be an amazing asset to your health and well being – if you understand the general process and know what to expect.  

Make acupuncture work for you 

It is important to me that we work towards a common goal. This may look different for each patient, but the one thing in common is that everyone wants to get good results. Here are my top recommendations to help acupuncture work for you:

Treatment plan

After going over your health history and goals, we’ll put together a suggested treatment plan outlining the number and frequency of visits.  There may be other recommendations such as lifestyle shifts, nutrition, etc. as well. The first couple of visits can give us valuable feedback on how your body is responding to the treatment.  Sometimes we will adjust the frequency or number of visits based on how you are progressing. It is important to come up with a treatment plan that you can stick with and that will give you healing benefit.  For complex, chronic issues you may expect to come in for often at the beginning, and then less often as you feel better. Acupuncture rarely solves the problem in 1-2 visits, but we also don’t want you to be coming in forever. 

Notice any changes

Even if you feel that not much has changed over the first few visits, it is often the case that small changes are already happening.  Often the first things you notice after acupuncture are subtle.  Take note of how you feel right after a treatment, that night and in the days following.  Are you feeling less stressed?  More energetic? Perhaps you’ve had better bowel movements or a deeper sleep. This can be different for everyone, but I guarantee something will have shifted already.

Scheduling acupuncture treatments

Enjoy the moment

Regardless of why you are getting acupuncture, it is generally a very relaxing treatment.  Think of this as your time to reset and rebalance.  Often the blissed out state lasts for several hours after the needles are out.  The aim of being in this state is that it mimics our body’s own “rest and digest” state.  This is when our body’s “fight or flight” mechanisms are switched off and we are able to rest and heal in a natural manner.

Time your treatments accordingly

So with this in mind, it makes sense to book your appointments for a time when you can relax afterwards.  It doesn’t mean you have to go straight to bed, but set aside some time to maximize on the zen vibe.  Maybe this means scheduling later in the day, or after a workout (instead of before). Even something simple such as taking a walk in the park can extend the feeling of the treatment afterwards. 

Keep to a routine

Sometimes new patients ask if coming in for acupuncture once per month is enough.  They may be seeing other practitioners on this schedule or it may be due to finances or time restraints. Unless you are already at the “maintenance” stage of a treatment plan, once a month will not be enough to see valuable changes in your healing progress. Acupuncture effects are cumulative, so each treatment will build on the last one.  If you go too far in between treatments, we might lose progress and have to start from scratch each time.  Consistency will pay off if you stick to regular visits.  Once your health goal is achieved, monthly or quarterly maintenance visits or “tune ups” can help keep you feeling well. 

Pre and post acupuncture suggestions

Acupuncture as a mini-detox

Your organ systems are encouraged to naturally detox with each acupuncture visit, so treat it like you would any other detox.  Stay well hydrated and try to avoid alcohol for 12-24 hours post treatment.  If you are sensitive to caffeine and sugar, pay attention to how you feel without these substances as well. 

Lifestyle and stress management

Acupuncture is one aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and it is usually not the only tool we reach for in a treatment plan.  Given that TCM is a complete medicine, we may also suggest lifestyle shifts including sleep, movement and mindfulness practices to help you feel better.

Nutrition and healing foods

Your treatment plan approach may include simple diet and hydrations tips based on the holistic principles of TCM and other traditions. The more suggestions you can implement, the faster you may see healing evolve. 

Prevention and self care

Think about prevention

Instead of treating acupuncture as a “fix”, it’s better to to think ahead.  Most of TCM is actually about illness prevention, whether that be avoiding further injury or supporting yourself with self care. 

Self care

I love to include self care suggestions as part of the plan for in-between treatments.  This may be something simple such as a mindful breathing exercise, self massage or castor oil packs. Suggestions will vary of course, and depend on how keen you are to do the work at home.  I usually find better, longer lasting results for those who can try some “homework” in between visits. 

Acupuncture is a healing modality, but it is also part of a rich way of life that embraces healing as a whole.  You don’t have to believe in acupuncture for it to work – but the more you can be open to these natural health concepts, the better it will work for you. 

Interested in learning more about Acupuncture?  Contact me for a free 15-minute consult to ask questions before booking your first appointment.

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