- Anna Lunaria, M.Ac., L.Ac., LMT. YTT, CHT
Top 5 Tips for Acupuncture: How to get the most benefit from Acupuncture
Top 5 Tips for Acupuncture: How to Get the Most Benefit from Acupuncture
#1 Limit your caffeine intake on the day you’re getting acupuncture.
Recent research demonstrates that part of acupuncture’s analgesic (pain relieving) effect is due to an increase in adenosine. Caffeine in an adenosine antagonist, meaning it block adenosine’s actions and therefore counteracts part of how acupuncture works to relieve pain. This also explains why acupuncture makes more people feel a little sleepy, inducing the acu-nap effect.
How to limit your caffeine intake: if you usually drink 2 cups of coffee, try to limit yourself to only 1 or 1/2 cup or switch to tea for the day you’re getting acupuncture. Limit tea to only 1 cup. Avoid energy drinks. Avoid eating chocolate on the day of your treatment if you are very sensitive to caffeine too.
#2 Food = Qi
Arrive at your appointment having eaten recently. Acupuncture effects blood sugar and blood pressure and increases circulation to the brain. If you have not eaten recently you may experience light headedness and fatigue after getting acupuncture. To get the most of your acupuncture experience, support it with healthy, well rounded nutritious meals: eat breakfast, lunch and dinner + include 1-2 healthy snacks and at least 8 cups of water per day (more if you’re exercising or in & out of the heat all day long). More about hydration see # 4.
According to acupuncture theory: part of how we make Qi (energy) is through the food we eat: we have to have Qi to move Qi. Coming for acupuncture on an empty stomach means you will have less Qi to ‘move’ what is stuck or not well in your body. Balanced, healthy nutrition is a vital aspect of keeping your mind & body healthy! Nutrition is a large part of Eastern Medicine, talk to you acupuncturist for ideas on how you can use nutrition to heal yourself!
#3 Stem Cells & Post Acupuncture Resting Phase
Recent studies demonstrate that part of how acupuncture works is by prompting the body to release stem cells to repair and heal the body: this happens about 2 hours after receiving acupuncture. When the immune system and stem cells begin the healing process, the more there is to heal in your body, the more tired you will feel post acupuncture. It’s similar to when you get a cold and feel so tired and lethargic, all you can do is sleep or lay down. It’s your immune system causing the ‘malaise’ rather than the virus. Listen to your immune system and slow down after acupuncture. If your pain is gone after acupuncture but you’re feeling tired - do not ignore the fatigue and push through it since you’re finally pain free and can suddenly do all the things you’ve been putting off…if you do, you will be undermining the healing process occurring within your body on the cellular level. Wait until the next day after acupuncture to do all chores, errands, training, etc. Rest on the day you get acupuncture!
FYI: when you receive acupuncture when you’re overall healthy then acupuncture will give you a boost of energy, vitality and creativity! This is one of the main reasons you should consider acupuncture as a longevity and vitality treatment for overall wellness care & self-actualization!
Being mildly dehydrated or chronically dehydrated may lead to you being in overall more pain and therefore more sensitive to acupuncture needles than normal. Limit fluids that act as diuretics (coffee, tea, soft drinks, alcohol), drink at least 8 cups of water on the day you receive acupuncture (and arrive hydrated). Focus in increasing your dietary sources of hydration: beans, legumes, whole grains and high fiber vegetables and fruits (celery & apples).
Remember to balance electrolytes: make you own ‘home-made’ version of an electrolyte balancing drink.
'Yin-Ade Electrolyte Drink'
2 cups room temperature water in a thermos or something you shake or stir
1/8 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon agave syrup
juice from 1/2 lime
juice from 1/2 - 1/4 lemon
Shake well before drinking!
# 5 Mind-Body Medicine: Be Present in the Now
Acupuncture needles typically stay in the body for 25+ minutes: ancient tradition says that it takes about this long for the Qi (energy) to circulate all the way through the body once and modern research shows that the brain will continue to respond to the needles for about 25 minutes. Typically after your acupuncture needles are placed you will naturally fall asleep (see #1) or drift into a meditative, dreamy mind state. If however your busy mind wants to fight this acupuncture effect, while you are resting with the needles in focus on taking deep breaths and attempt to quiet and calm your mind. Connect your mind to your body in the present moment with deep breathing and simply tracking your body sensations moment by moment. On the inhale notice where your body naturally pulls the minds attention toward and on the exhale focus on relaxing that part of your body (think phrases such as soften, unwind, melt, let go, think of relaxing, soothing colors, sounds, textures, etc). If your mind wanders into the past or into the future, gently bring it back into the moment: reconnect your mind to the body (which can only exist in the present moment). Let go of your analytical, planning, ‘doing’ mind during your acupuncture treatment in order to fully experience the benefits of restoring and rebalancing your body & mind with acupuncture.
More tips to come soon including: