If you're a spoonie like me, you've spent the majority of your sick life searching high and low for any answer available. I've tried yoga, medical treatments, supplements, diet changes--I've even literally read the book on crystal healing. While many have helped to greater or lesser extents, none of them have been the cure-all I was hoping to find.
None of them could preempt my savage panic attacks. Once in fight-or-flight mode, there's no chance of me continuing to take meds, sticking to a rigorous routine, or trying to implement healing vices as a tactic. I simply didn't have the willpower to stay on track when my mental existence is on a downward spiral.
So when I first agreed to acupuncture, it was with skepticism. Not in the practice itself, but in my ability to commit enough to see results. However, after a short consultation session, I'm over the moon.
I really believe this could be the answer.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the very few types of healing that has managed to bridge the divide between being an ‘alternative' medicine from the east, and being an accepted part of ‘scientific' western practice. While the former attributes the success of the method to promoting the free flow of Qi power, the latter, instead, talks about the points stimulating sensory nerves under the skin as the healing catalyst. If you don't know how a basic acupuncture treatment goes down, it involves sticking tiny little needles into different points of your body. Like most, I was immediately put off by this concept. However, during my consultation, I was shown the needles.
The tools used are so thin and tiny and bendy that they seem almost harmless! Immediately I was excited to know more.
A short history
The history of acupuncture is long and impressive. First found in ancient Chinese medicine, some documents date the practice as far back as the last few hundred years BC. However, sharpened stones and bones from 6000 BC have also been considered as being used for this purpose--crazy, huh?!
From observation and dissection of animals, Chinese medical experts developed a system of 365 points, which made up the group of meridians that promoted the flow of Qi energy.
The spread of acupuncture worldwide happened gradually. In the 6th century, both Japan and Korea practiced a similar method. France was the first western country to embrace its power and ran clinical trials in 1816 after returning missionaries first documented the process. Though many attempts have been made to disprove its validity, the results usually only solidified acupuncture's value.
Why was that? Because it was undeniable that it worked!
How does it work?
Amazingly, the more that I tried to disprove acupuncture, the more that I uncovered scientific backing of its worth.
While there is still not yet a concrete explanation for its power in conventional western terms, a few truths have risen from the practice.
- Sticking needles in certain points can stimulate muscle relaxation
- It’s also capable of overriding brain signals
- Hormones and neurotransmitters can be altered by using the right points
- All of the above can reduce the release of stress hormones.
- It can also produce pain-relieving endorphins for long term relief
So, in short, pretty awesome stuff! It’s clear already how it could potentially be a fantastic resource for chronic illness sufferers.
Why I’m excited
So far, all I’ve said is very textbook (i.e. you can find it all on Google). However, it's really important to me that this article puts across more than just the facts. I left my appointment in a whirl of enthusiasm--and this is why.
My acupuncturist is the only medical professional I’ve seen that has filled in the gaps between all my illnesses. Instead of isolating each symptom and targeting it specifically, she talked about my problem as a holistic imbalance.
She has said what no one else has seemed willing to say: that Fibro is a result of being stressed for too long; that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can cause physical conditions; she even offered that’s why many people feel better when traveling!--hello, story of my life!
Furthermore, it's the only treatment I've seen that promises instant relief with no cost to another area of your health. Unlike the medications with as many side effects as cures; unlike the exercise plans that leave me in agony until I'm ‘strong' enough to see the benefit; unlike the diets which involve at least a week of an upset tummy while transferring between them. Acupuncture demands nothing in return.
I'm pretty opened minded, and even I was willing to overlook acupuncture for a long time. It's becoming increasingly evident that the medical industry doesn't know what it's doing when treating chronic illness, so I've always believed in looking elsewhere.
If you've had experiences with acupuncture, then I'd love to know before I start my first treatment. Otherwise, if you have any other alternative therapies that have worked miracles for you, then please let me know!
I'll be sure to keep you all posted with how it goes and decide, on behalf of all spoonies, whether acupuncture is truly the answer we've all been trying to find!