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5 Best Complements to Acupuncture

By Sara Calabro

Imagine a world where people get acupuncture every day. We’d be less stressed, suffering through fewer addictions, and experiencing less pain. Unfortunately, acupuncture on the daily is financially and logistically impossible for most of us.

The good news is, there are several therapies that serve as great complements to acupuncture. They are free, available to almost everyone, and effective at prolonging, enhancing, or mimicking the effects of acupuncture.

While daily acupuncture may be idealistic, you can use other activities to cultivate some of the same benefits that acupuncture provides. Here are five things that are easy to incorporate into your life right now.


Acupressure is the mother of complementary therapies to acupuncture. The two modalities speak the same language since they both focus on acupuncture points.

Acupressure, in addition to providing symptomatic relief on its own, can significantly reinforce the effects of acupuncture treatments. You can perform acupressure any time, any place, whenever it works for you.

It’s also educational because it gets you thinking about health from an acupuncture perspective. Acupressure is a great tool for learning to see yourself as an interconnected being who’s capable of self-healing.

The following self-care articles on acupressure can help get you started:

Acupressure for boosting immunity
Acupressure for post-nasal drip
Acupressure for hangover
Acupressure for stress reduction
Acupressure for low back pain
Acupressure for travel
Acupressure for allergies
Acupressure for impressing your significant other


There’s a reason so many yogis are into acupuncture. The two disciplines have a lot in common, in their intentions and outcomes. A shared sensibility pervades acupuncture and yoga, attracting people who are curious about the intersection of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.

Practicing yoga, much like receiving acupuncture, helps draw energy out of your mind and into your body. It heightens awareness such that you become more attuned to the clues your body gives about what’s ailing you and how you can heal yourself.

More practically speaking, yoga stretches acupuncture meridians throughout the body, which helps regulate the flow that acupuncture strives to restore and maintain. For more detail on this, read this article about downward-facing dog from an acupuncture perspective.

And for further reading on how yoga and acupuncture similarly affect the muscular tension that occurs when we’re under stress, check out this book.


Even if it’s just around the block, taking a walk can go a long way. Like acupuncture, walking awakens and engages all the meridians that flow throughout the body. When you go for a walk, you let your whole body take a deep breath and reset itself.

Movement of any kind is good, but there’s something about walking that is at once invigorating and restorative. It does not require athleticism, excessive amounts of energy, or demanding postures. Walking gently lulls the body into its natural rhythm.

If you’re a runner, go for it, but allow yourself to walk sometimes. Running can be a great way to keep the juices flowing and boost your mood, but it can easily cross over into feeling like an unpleasant obligation. If you’re out for a jog and notice yourself dreading the experience or tensing up, slow down and walk for a few minutes. Reset.

Eating good food

Acupuncture helps eliminate toxins. Don’t knowingly put them back in by eating poor-quality food.

The “right” diet is different for everyone, but regardless of your preferences, it’s valuable to think about food as sustenance. Eating is an opportunity to heal your body, or to keep it healthy if it already is.

When we conceive of food as sustenance, processed food and other junk become less appealing. So, imagine the foods that would make you feel nourished and healthy, then go eat them.

Staying warm

People who are in pain often wonder, “Should I use heat or ice?” Heat is the answer almost every time.

From an acupuncture perspective, many pain conditions are caused by stagnation. Things are not moving smoothly through the channels, causing blockages that lead to pain. Acupuncture restores flow, helping to eliminate these blockages. (Watch this cool video to better understand this concept.)

Looking at pain in this way, ice is counterproductive—it causes things to remain stagnant and slows down the healing process. But you don’t have to be injured or even in pain to benefit from this warming principle.

When we’re cold, we get tight—we tense our shoulders and hold ourselves in rigid postures. This can be an issue in summer as well, when offices, restaurants, and other places jack up the air conditioning to the point of discomfort.

Don’t torture yourself by sweating all summer long, but stay loose. Before making a third cup of tea to keep from shivering at your desk, head outside for a walk. Soak up some summer air. Warm your insides. Your acupuncturist would be proud.

Photo by Sara Calabro

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What, no Qigong on the list? Qigong is a branch of Chinese Medicine, just like acupuncture. Yoga is fine, but Qigong is a much, much better compliment to acupuncture because it uses the same theories of energy, meridians, yin and yang, etc. My wife is an acupuncture physician, and I teach Qigong, and the results we get from this combo are simply amazing.

Gralin Pritchard

I have to say that Pilates is a better adjunct to acupuncture than Yoga. Yoga is fine and the world would be a better place etc., but Pilates teaches you to tap directly into the hara where energy enters the body. You may not even say that it’s better, it’s just more direct in the way that it accounts for health in a manner more inline with Oriental medical theory. And yes, it also directly stimulates the periphera of the meridians. I’ve done both practices and will continue to! Also have to mention Nei-Gong. Not as common as Yoga or Qi-Gong, but most people who’ve tried them both tend to favor it. And then there’s Maka Ho meridian stretching and Zazen Shiatsu…
The only problem with Yoga is that teachers aren’t taught to use it in a way that energizes ALL meridians, because they aren’t usually aware of any other practices. I’ve been to dozens of Yoga sessions taught by some of the best Yoga teachers in Houston, and left nearly all of them with one or more meridians unaccounted for. As any practitioner of a more thourough or interventional nature will tell you, health benefits and body energy awareness accrue much more rapidly when all are called into action in a session. This is built into a Pilates or resistance stretch routine as a matter of course.


Good article, thanks for sharing. Qi gong, yoga, only real difference is a labeling and judging mind as essence is clearly the union based same.

Getting More Out of Fewer Acupuncture Treatments

[…] to support the acupuncture they are getting at my office. Here is a great article on this topic: The Five Best Complements to Acupuncture. By following the advice in this article, you will multiply the effects of each acupuncture […]


I have been going to acupuncture for over 3 years now on & off. I have RSDS in my left calf & foot. Due to all the terrible side effects I went through from Lyrica, Cymbalta & all the others, I could not take it anymore & tried Accupunture & massages! It was the best decision I made for myself!! It helped control my heel foot pain to the point I could start taking my walks again outside in nature! Also helps my anxiety. I do yoga & stretches. Just had fusion surgery L5 S1 & MRI found I have severe osteoarthritis in facet joints 3-4-&5 slowly starting back to being able to move better. It works for me

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