1. Have a Movement Practice
Whether it is working out at the gym or swimming in the ocean, having some sort of movement practice regularly woven through your regular routine is not only good for your health, it can make therapeutic treatments more effective. Movement is something that brings our awareness out of our busy minds and into our bodies. Living in a world of high mental function and capacity, often the body gets left out. This tip is especially helpful for complaints such as anxiety, insomnia, even depression. Movement of any kind helps train your mind to take a break. This practice promotes embodiment, which in acupuncture, is crucial to its efficacy. Even if you do not have a movement practice, acupuncture still can strongly bring us out of the mind but if you want an extra boost in this department, consider taking a stroll around the block.
2. Ask Questions
Being open minded through the therapeutic process can be a total game-changer. Even if we don’t understand how it works, being open to the possibility that something can change allows for that to happen. It may not be exactly what, when or how we expect but the body works in mysterious ways!
Chinese medicine practitioners in the U.S. have gone through 3, some as many as 6 years of academic and clinical training. Many have decades of clinical experience. There is so much to learn. Ask your practitioner about what they are doing, what they notice and in general, about your case. You may be surprised at what you find out.
3. Follow Up
When seeking treatment for an acute condition, one treatment may significantly reduce symptom discomfort, and you may not seem to need a follow up. In general, the young and vital bounce back quickly, but for more severe and chronic conditions, it may take months or even years to see results. Stick with it! Often, chronic conditions take years themselves to arrive in the body. Thus, it can be expected to take some time to heal. Following up, even when it is not acutely bothersome can help to prevent it from recurring.
The key to this is to continue receiving treatment even when you aren’t sick. Health maintenance is the key to prevention!
4. Consider Taking a Chinese Herbal Formula
Not all Chinese medicine practitioners treat using Chinese herbal formulas, but if you can find a practitioner that does I highly recommend giving it a try in combination with acupuncture. Herbal formulas continue the gesture of the treatment after you leave the clinic. They can reach a depth that is often difficult to reach with acupuncture alone and help to expedite the healing process. Herbal formulas when prescribed by a trained acupuncturists or herbalist have far less side effects than pharmaceuticals, and many contain food grade herbs alongside more medicinal herbs. To learn more about herbal medicine, training, and safety read our blog post on Chinese Herbal Medicine 101.
5. Shop Around
Trust is vital in the healing process and although this takes time to establish, you should feel relatively comfortable with your practitioner from the beginning. If you do not jive well with someone, shop around!
This all being said, if you try someone out and ‘it didn’t work” or “nothing happened” refer back to tip #2. Were you being as open as you could be? Maybe things will unfold in a second visit, or over time. If that is not the case, another question to ask yourself is “Did I feel heard?” The healing process is extremely vulnerable. It is important that you feel held in your process and that starts with a good listener.
Overall, not all practitioners work at the same depth or with the same technique. Part of what makes a good match is that they are able to meet you in your state with the skills they have mastered. It is important to jive with your practitioner. So find one that goes with your flow! And follow your instincts.
6. Encourage Continuity
Your healthcare is about YOU. With the ever-changing healthcare landscape, now more than ever patients and practitioners are taking charge of personalized care. If you are seeing multiple types of practitioners, encourage them to get in touch with each other about your case.* This type of communication is often lost, especially if you are seeing practitioners that work in different facilities. The consequence is almost always at the expense of the patient (not always financial). Hopefully this has empowered you to reach out and demand continuity for yourself. They may ask but be sure to let your acupuncturist know when you are getting chiropractic work or when you are going in for your next mammogram.
I believe these are the types of conversations that will begin the true integration of alternative medicine into the modern conventional healthcare system, and it starts with us!
*This may require a release from you, allowing them to release your health record across medical clinics.
Kyle Rhodes practices at Thompson Family Acupuncture Clinic in Walla Walla, WA. Kyle is fascinated with the healing power of nature and how it functions in the body. Through East Asian medicine modalities, she brings to light the inner healing power each person holds. Healing is a journey and she is here to support you along the way!