By Sara Calabro We’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: not all acupuncturists are created equal. Acupuncturists differ on everything from how they were trained to the conditions they treat to the kind of music they like. Where your acupuncturist falls on these variety of spectrums can determine whether he or she is right for you. On more than a few occasions, readers have emailed me asking how to know if their acupuncturist is any good. Usually, it’s not a matter of good or bad. It’s a matter of fit. If your acupuncturist is not a good fit for you—the condition you need help with as well as your personality, financial situation, and personal tastes—you’re unlikely to achieve optimal results from acupuncture. It’s okay. It happens. You’ll both be better off. But it may be time to break up with your acupuncturist.
By Sara Calabro Spring is here! Yes! Except for the fact that many people don’t feel so hot this time of year. The flu is—knock on wood—mostly behind us. Allergies have not quite exploded yet. So, why do so many of us feel off in the early days of spring? You can kindly thank your Liver! In acupuncture theory, humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them. Seasons—particularly the transitional periods, when we move from one season to the next—factor significantly into how we feel. Each season is linked with an organ system in the body, and spring’s system is Liver. This means that the Liver, as it adjusts to taking over the seasonal reigns, is especially vulnerable. When the Liver is vulnerable, the functions throughout the body for which the Liver is responsible have a tendency to get out of whack.
By Sara Calabro A common assumption about acupuncture is that it hurts. You are, after all, getting stuck with needles. Fear of pain from acupuncture needles is one of the most common reasons people forgo acupuncture. Often to the astonishment of those who take the plunge, acupuncture usually does not hurt. No pain, though, does not mean no sensation. There are instances where acupuncture needles are inserted without the recipient feeling a thing—this is especially common with styles of acupuncture that utilize extra thin needles, such as Japanese acupuncture. However, most of the time acupuncture produces some kind of sensation at the site of needling. This moment, when a person literally feels an acupuncture point working, is known in acupuncture lingo as de qi. It is a good thing. Another way of thinking about de qi is that the acupuncture needle has accessed the energetic material that it needs to produce movement throughout the body. When the point is activated, change is initiated.
By Denise Cicuto Acupuncture is about more than just needles. In fact, the Chinese word that typically gets translated as acupuncture, zhenjiǔ, actually means “acupuncture and moxibustion.” So, what the heck is moxibustion? Acupuncture goers may know moxibustion, or moxa, as the smoky-smelling stuff that sometimes appears during a treatment. More specifically, moxa is an herb—known as mugwort or Artemisia vulgaris—that gets burned on or near an acupuncture point. Burned?! Stay with me. It’s not as scary as it sounds. Moxa is a soothing addition to any acupuncture treatment, and it’s especially useful for patients who are not fans of needles. At my acupuncture practice in San Francisco, I use moxa frequently with great success. I also get a lot of questions about this relatively unknown healing technique. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about moxa.