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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture needles are placed in a wooden bowl.
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Thinking about trying acupuncture for the first time? While acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, our culture’s current appreciation for holistic health has brought this ancient form of healing and pain management to the top of the list of things to try for a variety of health-related benefits.

Lifesavvy spoke with acupuncturists Lisa Lapwing, AP, at Whole Health Acupuncture in Windemere, Florida, and Melissa B. Light, the chief practitioner and founder of Light Family Acupuncture in Austin, Texas, to dig into this popular treatment. With over 30 years of combined experience, Lapwing and Light answered the most commonly asked questions about what acupuncture is, its benefits, and who should try it.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for well over 2,500 years. Lapwing describes acupuncture as a combined art and science of placing thin, sterile needles throughout the body to elicit balance.

“The acupuncture points are located on what we call meridians, which are the pathways which energy and blood flow throughout the body,” said Light.

She went on to explain that when these meridians are blocked, practitioners believe disease, pain, and discomfort can take form throughout the body. Acupuncture is therefore seen as a remedy, as it works to restore circulation, balance, and holistic health. By opening restricted blood vessels, the hair-thin needles used in acupuncture increase blood flow, therefore increasing the distribution of essential nutrients, as well as the exit of toxins and other waste in the body.

An acupuncturist uses information on his or her patient’s hormones, quality of sleep, energy levels, and overall immune system to inform the treatment. Over time, sessions help patients restore and regulate balance more efficiently, therefore creating resilience in the body as a whole to future ailments such as hormone imbalances, headaches, and other issues.

A traditional acupuncture treatment takes anywhere from 25-45 minutes and can be administered in a face-up or face-down position. Lapwing recommended scheduling a starter set of six to eight appointments to encourage the body to settle in and adjust to the effects of the treatments.

What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture?

A person performs acupuncture on a woman's back.

Acupuncture is used to treat a huge range of ailments and health issues. Our experts shared that they commonly treat patients who come into their clinics with the following:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Allergies
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fertility issues
  • Developmental disorders
  • Poor sleep

Generally, after acupuncture, you can expect to feel calm, relaxed, alleviated from pain, and able to focus more clearly. Light shared that many people notice an immediate relief of symptoms that carry on to help them achieve their long-term goals of a balanced and pain-free life.

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Relax during sessions.

Light also offers red light acupuncture during sessions at her clinic, which utilizes electromagnetic stimulation to promote healing and increased blood flow.

Combined, traditional acupuncture and red light acupuncture focus on improving and optimizing natural bodily functions that are impacted by life stressors and toxins, by healing you from the inside-out

Who Should Try Acupuncture?

Both of our experts emphasized that acupuncture is an ideal treatment option for anyone experiencing a wide range of health conditions! All populations from children to teenagers, adults, and the elderly can equally benefit from acupuncture.

While a treatment complete with multiple needles might seem like an intimidating process, a skilled acupuncturist will make you feel comfortable and at ease.

“Many acupuncturists also utilize a technique called pediatric tuina that involves no needles but very gentle touch techniques, that works wonders for even babies! There isn’t anyone acupuncture would not be ideal for!” Lapwing said.

Lapwing and Light most commonly see patients for general pain relief as well as hormonal imbalances and fertility issues. Due to acupuncture’s benefits for balancing hormones, Lapwing specifically recommends acupuncture treatments for teenagers, who are at a tender age hormonally, emotionally, and socially.

While acupuncture is a form of ancient Eastern medicine, modern healthcare is continuing to research its positive impact on Western society. If you’ve been curious about acupuncture, reaching out to a practitioner could be a good idea. But of course, before you begin any new treatments, it’s always best to speak with your primacy care physician first.

Jenn Vigh Jenn Vigh
Jenn is a pilates and yoga instructor, an aerialist, and a travel blogger with 5 years of experience in nonprofit communications, and over 10 years of experience writing, teaching, training, performing and collaborating with creatives across the globe. For the last 6 years, her American home-base has been Austin, TX, where she’s worked with the aerial dance company, Blue Lapis Light, and enjoyed the sunshine with her world-traveling yorkipoo, Sheila. Read Full Bio »
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