(updated from a caitdonovan.com blog post from April 2017)
So I've been meaning to ask you.. for a friend.. can acupuncture help with.....?
This is the most common question that I get from patients in the treatment room. The question pops up once that particular patient has seen results with their own issue, they are feeling better and want to help other people do the same - so they start to ask.
An important thing to remember here is that most trained acupuncturists also learn other parts of Chinese medicine that are not as popular in the media as acupuncture such as herbal medicine, cupping, gua sha, lifestyle counseling, moxibustion and so on. Often times, we combine a few of the above mentioned to get the results the patient wants.
In addition, my personal belief is that patients get the best results when we are combining with other modalities such as Functional Medicine and physical therapy.
So, let me get around to answering the question. It would be impossible to make a complete list of what can be done - you'd never read it all and I would miss things for sure - but I will list 5 things that might be surprising to you. The not surprising things, I believe (and correct me if I'm wrong) are muscle/joint pain and fertility. There is a lot of advertising around those things and I think the general population has a good idea about them.
1. Post-stroke recovery - Acupuncture and moxibustion combined are amazing for treating anyone post-stroke. It is best to start treatments as frequently and as soon as possible after the event but I have had amazing results even 5+ years following a stroke. I recently treated a 26-year-old woman who is 7 years post-stroke and in just 5 days of treatment within a week, she was crying and laughing about being able to walk without having to concentrate...talk about a fun day at the office!!! Acupuncture helps to re-activate the nervous system and restore function. There is so much that acupuncture can do here.
2. Depression - We believe you. We know you aren't making it up, we know you have a cloud around you - we can help you lift it. Acupuncture is a great tool for many emotional disorders and is especially strong when combined with herbal medicine. Often, depression is accompanied by anxiety (or the other way around), either way, we can help. One of my favorite points often leaves my patients telling me that they heaviness has been lifted off their chests - such a relief, for them and for me! It is 100% okay to combine acupuncture with pharmacological treatment. Oftentimes, my patients start acupuncture and then make a plan with their Dr's to come off medications slowly - this can ONLY be done under the care of your physician.
3. Digestive disorders - We won't pretend that your diet isn't a factor here but even still, we can help. Your acupuncturist will suggest dietary changes, some of us are more strict than others, but the acupuncture alone was enough to make one pregnant patient who was constipated pull all her needles by herself and run to the bathroom a few years ago. I will never forget walking back into her treatment room, seeing her needles on the table and not seeing her (don't try this at your acupuncture office... let us take those needles out for you)! She walked out of the bathroom about a minute later, sighed, said Thank YOU and then left. It was the fastest treatment I'd ever done! And... it doesn't stop at constipation (see what I did there?!? :)). Bloating, gas, diarrhea, indigestion, cramping, even some food intolerances can be helped!
4. C-section scars, the flap - YES. Seriously. Go get this done. I don't care how long it's been! A natural effect of treating a lot of fertility patients over the years is that I have seen a lot of women postpartum as well. About 6 - 8 weeks after your cesarean is the perfect time to start, but again, even years later is ok. I have seen the scar tissue decrease, the scar itself lessen in size and change in color and also - the most important part - I've seen the stomach flap go away. Personally, I use acupuncture with electrical stimulation for this. The e-stim, as we call it, adds a slight pulsation to the needle and can help make measurable differences in just a few sessions. This is also something that can be accomplished after intense weight loss. I currently have a patient that has lost over 100lbs and so far we've treated her abdominal skin just three times and she has NO MORE FLAP. If you've got scars you'd rather not have or excess skin, acupuncture just might be the thing that saves you.
5. Old acne scars - I don't care that you are 50. Cosmetic acupuncture, alongside facial cupping and facial gua sha do amazing things to the skin. They can clear up your complexion and help you reduce the unevenness in your skin that acne left behind. It is best to find a specialist for this one. There are loads of practitioners now that specialize in cosmetic treatments and they have the most experience and know how to best help you! Also, there is a beauty product called the derma roller that was originally developed by one of my teachers in China that you can now find on Amazon for 15 bucks or so - using this every day has given one of my patients smoother skin than she has ever had!
6. Burnout / Adrenal Fatigue / Overloaded Nervous System - Ah, we've finally reached my specialty. Chronic stress breaks down your body over time and acupuncture can help you restore it. I started specializing in this in 2018 after going through my second burnout and realizing that I needed to do something different in my own life. The more research I did, the more I noted that acupuncture is mentioned repeatedly, and positively, in stress treatment research. It has the ability to encourage neuroplasticity (makes your brain able to grow and change). It can calm the reactivity of your nervous system. It can help heal nearly any health issue you have that is exacerbated by stress. In my office, I add an infrared heating mat to your treatment to enhance the effects and get a supercharged stress-busting acupuncture treatment.
If you are looking for someone in your area, please see the acufinder.com website or ask on a holistic health Facebook page in your town or city!
If you're in NYC and want some of the stress-busting magic that happens in my office, you can book your first appointment here!