By Eric Kerr Ladies love acupuncture. Most acupuncturists will tell you that they see more women than men in their practices. More women also become acupuncturists. And women’s health is a very common specialty among practitioners, male and female alike. In acu-land, women are all the rage! What about the fellas? Acupuncture can be an especially potent therapy for men. It’s time more guys discovered its benefits. Early in my acupuncture training, I knew I wanted to focus on men’s health. Being a man, I understand that men tend not to seek out healthcare in the same way women do. This is precisely why acupuncture can be so powerful in men.
By Sara Calabro This is part two of a series on acupuncture points for reducing stress. In part one, we explain how we gathered these points, and introduce the first 10. If you haven’t read part one, do that first. Then, check out the remaining 11 points below. They are all located on the head!
By Sara Calabro Everyone has a go-to stress response. Some people escape to sunny beaches. Others reach for wine. Many buy things they don’t need. Many more ignore it. All stress responses, assuming no one gets hurt or goes bankrupt, have their merits. Whatever works! However, many common coping mechanisms for stress are unrealistic, inconvenient, or unsustainable. After all, how many of us can jet off to the Caribbean every time life gets stressful? Acupuncture treatments, as well as the theoretical tenets of acupuncture, have much to offer in the way of long-term stress reduction. But what about in-the-moment stress relief? You’re about to give a big presentation. You’re waiting to hear about test results. The turbulence on your flight won’t let up. Several acupuncture points can help calm you down. We asked acupuncturists, what is your all-time favorite acupuncture point for stress reduction? A key criteria was that the point had to be accessible for performing self-acupressure, so neither acupuncture needles nor an acupuncturist are required to benefit from these points. They can be pressed anywhere, any time for immediate stress reduction.
By Marisa Fanelli Acupuncture can make you look younger. I’m not talking about cosmetic acupuncture, although that can be effective, too. I’m talking about using acupuncture to strengthen your five most essential organ systems—Kidney, Spleen, Liver, Lung, and Heart—so that you are systemically healthier. This can not only make you feel younger but actually prevent physical signs of aging. Remember that “organ” in acupuncture is different from organs as we think of them in Western medicine. An organ system in acupuncture includes the anatomical organ as well as the meridians that connect to that organ, the functional or energetic qualities of the organ, and even the associated emotions of the organ. Here’s how each of the five essential organ systems influences the aging process.
By Sara Calabro Acupuncture is not a one-shot deal. It works cumulatively, meaning one treatment builds on the next. There are certainly instances of acupuncture producing immediate results. However, this is more an exception than the rule—and when it happens, the results tend to be short lived. If you want lasting results from acupuncture, especially for a chronic condition, you must commit to the process. This approach to healing is unfamiliar for Westerners, who are accustomed to instant gratification in most aspects of life, including healthcare. Being forced to adopt a long-term, cumulative perspective can be confusing and frustrating. Sometimes us instant-gratification junkies need to be thrown a bone! Fortunately, there are several indications that acupuncture is taking effect—even if your primary symptoms have not yet resolved. When these signs appear, symptom relief typically is not far behind. Here are six signs that your acupuncture treatments are working.
By Sara Calabro Acupuncturists do more than just poke people with needles. They use non-needling techniques, such as moxibustion and cupping, and some prescribe herbs. They also offer advice—acupuncture-inspired tips that can help you feel healthier and happier. Some people heed this advice and others ignore it, often to the chagrin of acupuncturists. There are many simple practices that, when committed to, can drastically improve a person’s symptoms and overall quality of life. If only everyone remembered to do them! Now you have them in writing. We asked acupuncturists from around the country, what is one thing you wish all of your patients did to be healthier? Here are 12 do-it-yourself health tips that acupuncturists wish everyone would remember.
By Sara Calabro My Google Alerts are set up to notify me every time a mainstream media outlet mentions acupuncture. For the past two weeks, I’ve been getting pinged more often than usual. That’s because on March 24—brace yourselves—Kim Kardashian got acupuncture and Instagramed a picture of her face full of needles! Of course, no one cares about this nearly as much as the media would have us believe. However, when celebrities publicize their use of acupuncture, it generates a lot of new interest and questions about acupuncture—and that’s something we do care about. So, why did Kim Kardashian have so many needles stuck in her face?
By Sara Calabro The Why Are You Doing That Point? series is back with a lesser used but very valuable acupuncture point: Kidney 1. Kidney 1—also known as Gushing Spring (English name), Yongquan (Chinese translation), and KD1 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the bottom of the foot (see picture below). Kidney 1 is the only acupuncture point on the bottom of the foot. Since some people are freaked out at the thought of taking a needle there, many acupuncturists stay clear of needling Kidney 1. However, Kidney 1 hurts much less than you’d expect—often, there’s no sensation at all—especially when it’s needled by a skilled acupuncturist. Acupuncturists commonly use Kidney 1 as an acupressure point, at either the beginning or end of a treatment, to help ground a person’s energy (more on this below). You can do this yourself. Because it’s on the bottom of the foot, Kidney 1 is an easily accessible point for performing self-acupressure.
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.
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 reins, 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.