How To Know When Acupuncture Is Working
By Sara Calabro
Acupuncture is not a one-shot deal. It works cumulatively, meaning one treatment builds on the next.
There are certainly instances of acupuncture producing immediate results. However, this is more an exception than the rule—and when it happens, the results tend to be short lived.
If you want lasting results from acupuncture, especially for a chronic condition, you must commit to the process.
This approach to healing is unfamiliar for Westerners, who are accustomed to instant gratification in most aspects of life, including healthcare. Being forced to adopt a long-term, cumulative perspective can be confusing and frustrating.
Sometimes us instant-gratification junkies need to be thrown a bone! Fortunately, there are several indications that acupuncture is taking effect—even if your primary symptoms have not yet resolved. When these signs appear, symptom relief typically is not far behind.
Here are six signs that your acupuncture treatments are working.
You’re sleeping better
This is one of the most common signs that acupuncture is doing its thing. Many insomniacs who seek acupuncture for other reasons are surprised when their sleep problems resolve—often without ever having mentioned the issue to their acupuncturist. Even if you’re not someone who struggles with sleep, you still may notice yourself sleeping more deeply, waking less during the night, or feeling more rested upon waking.
You’re more aware
When acupuncture starts working, it can feel as if all of your senses just got a tune up. You hear birds chirping a little louder. The sky looks bluer. You notice the texture of your shirt against your skin. You literally smell roses. Food tastes better.
You’re also more in touch with sensations throughout your body. Maybe you notice the way you tense your shoulders when you sit at the computer. Or, you discover that as soon as something stressful happens, your stomach tightens and your breath becomes shallow.
If it feels like your world has gone from normal viewing to a vivid HD experience, acupuncture is working for you.
You’re more emotional
Many of us are amazingly skilled at funneling emotions into our bodies. It’s a defense mechanism that allows us to avoid dealing with these things—until, of course, our bodies start paying the price for it. Most people who seek acupuncture are dealing, at least on some level, with emotional stress as a contributor to their physical symptoms.
Acupuncture is like peeling an onion. Layer by layer, it exposes us until it gets to the core. Since acupuncture works by addressing the root cause of a condition, the process can cause repressed emotions to surface.
You may be quicker to cry or notice yourself feeling more sentimental than usual. In general, emotions—good or bad—are felt more intensely.
This is a good thing. It’s a sign that layers are being peeled back, which means you’re getting closer to reaching the core issue. Acupuncture is working.
You have more energy
Although receiving acupuncture is a relaxing, energy-grounding experience, your energy level may rise in the hours and days following a treatment. This means acupuncture has stirred the pot and stimulated movement throughout the meridians—and regular, steady movement throughout the meridians is ultimately what will resolve your chief complaint.
The surge in energy that acupuncture produces is different from the somewhat frenetic energy that surrounds daily life. It’s a kind of energy that makes you feel more awake and alive. You may notice that you’re less tired during the day, feeling more motivated to go out for a walk, or just sensing a little extra spring in your step.
You’re less stressed out
Contrary to the acupuncture-as-hippy-medicine stereotype, acupuncture does not send you into la-la land. It does not put you in a daze that makes you numb. It does, however, take the edge off.
Acupuncture evens out our moods so that we are less affected by and better equipped to manage the stressful aspects of our lives. The stress won’t disappear, but if you find yourself feeling less bogged down by it, acupuncture is working for you.
You’re more regular
Remember what I said earlier about regular, steady movement throughout the meridians being the thing that will ultimately resolve your chief complaint? Well, one of the clearest indicators of movement throughout the meridians is digestive health.
The organ systems and meridians that regulate digestion are intimately connected to all other structures and functions throughout the body, so your digestive health says a lot about your overall state of health.
If your digestion is too slow, too fast, or just generally erratic, it’s a red flag. On the other hand, if you start moving your bowels more regularly, it means things are evening out and moving in the right direction.
If you recognize any of these six signs, hang in there and stick with it. Acupuncture is working.