7 Ways to Maximize the Effects of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a profound and powerful way to gently influence the body, using the inherent energy in your system.  The more energy you have, the better the treatments will work. If you get acupuncture 1 – 2 times in a week, everything else you do for the remaining 166 hours in the week can support or undermine the treatment.    In order to get the most out of your sessions, here are 7 things to keep in mind.


Eat Something Beforehand.  Acupuncture works by directing the energy in your body in specific ways.  If you have a little food in your belly, then there’s more energy to use for your treatment.  We get hungry when we are in need of more fuel. Acupuncture on an empty tank is less effective, and you’re more likely to pass out.


Avoid Caffeine Beforehand.  The only thing worse than acupuncture on an empty stomach is acupuncture on a stomach full of nothing but coffee.  Acupuncture works to help you relax by increasing a neurotransmitter in your brain called Adenosine. This is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel calm and restful.  Biochemically, Caffeine doesn’t give you energy, it just blocks Adenosine, so you don’t feel tired. Mixing Acupuncture with a lot of Caffeine is like breaking even in terms of Adenosine.


Less Strenuous Activity.  Please don’t think of your body as fragile immediately after an acupuncture session, though it is advisable to exercise on the lighter side for the rest of the day.  We are directing your energy to specific places. Try not to spend all of it lifting pieces of iron. Acupuncture tends to have an excellent pain relieving effect. Your injured body part might feel stronger than it actually is immediately after acupuncture.  Please don’t push it.


Incorporate the 3 Free Therapies.  In Chinese Medicine we acknowledge the “Three Free Therapies.”  These are things anyone can do to adjust their lifestyle for the better.  The three therapies are Nutrition, Exercise, and Relaxation. Make sure you are regularly eating real food that nourishes your body.  Depending on your constitution, your acupuncturist may have specific suggestions for you. Try it. Exercise can take many forms. Aerobics, weights, yoga, martial arts, sports, you name it.  Make sure you are moving your body. Just don’t overdo it (see #3). Relaxation is also very important as it allows your body to rest and heal. This may take the form of meditation, a slow walk around the neighborhood, reading, or sitting in nature doing nothing.  I would add a fourth therapy: Fun. Do something that makes you laugh. That is very good for the Qi.


Come on Time. This almost goes without saying, but it’s better to have the whole appointment to let the needles do their work.


Strategic Scheduling.  It’s best to think of acupuncture as a process rather than as isolated treatments.  Your acupuncturist should be able to help you figure out a schedule to keep the treatments regular.  Often this schedule starts with a higher frequency in the beginning with a taper to wean you off as your condition improves.  The treatment plan is based on your acupuncturist’s experience with cases like yours and what has worked the best in the past.


Turn off your Phone.  Yep.  You’re lying on the table, your mind is finally calming down, and you begin to slip into a blissful, half-waking dreamlike state.  The Adenosine release is kicking in. Then BUZZZ your phone jabs you awake. Better to turn it off. Turn everything off. When you are on the table it is a chance to not have to be in charge of everything in your life.  How rare are these moments?


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