I Tried Acupuncture for the First Time

I Tried Acupuncture for the First Time

Three days ago, I went for my first acupuncture treatment and today I’d like to share with you how it went, what I felt, what I got done while I was there, and the improvements I felt in the first three days after the treatment.

I don’t know why but I’d always been reluctant to try Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or acupuncture. I didn’t know where to find a good practitioner that I could trust. I was also so disappointed and scared of doctors that those negative feelings extended to “alternative” practitioners, such as acupuncturists, as well.

Alternative? Huh, I’m being ironic here because there’s nothing alternative about TCM, it was here thousands of years before the current modern medicine.

Some Nagging Health Issues Were Still There

In the last year or so, I’ve made incredible strides towards complete healing. First, I optimised my thyroid function, then I found out that my Hashimoto’s had gone into remission as well). But there were still many nagging issues that I struggled with and honestly, nothing I was doing was making a permanent positive impact on those issues.

I started getting a bit discouraged.

I’ve been practising self-healing for a few years now and it’s been very rewarding to do it all on my own. I’m a Logician in the Myers-Briggs personality typing – that explains why I’m so obsessed with doing things on my own and in my own way.

But I’m not going to lie, I also felt very lonely, and  it was difficult to deal with moments when progress wasn’t happening as fast as I would have liked or I’d been experiencing a setback, or I’d hit a roadblock.

I wished so desperately for someone to take my hand and help me.

Why I Chose Acupuncture

A month ago, I read a couple of books about Traditional Chinese Medicines (one about Qi stagnation and another one about Yin deficiency) and I loved everything I read. It was very similar to my beloved Ayurveda, yet also very different.

It’s not surprising actually because TCM originated from Ayurveda a few thousands of years ago.

I started reading about TCM because I was looking for ways to stop my excruciating period cramps, which by now has become my number one concern with thyroid issues being out of the way.  I read that acupuncture was very effective in getting rid of painful cramps, and it was literally like a light bulb moment.

I simply felt that I had to find the best acupuncturist on the island of Tenerife and book an appointment ASAP.

And that’s what I did!

I found Lisa Harris who has been practising Acupuncture and Osteopathy on the island for many years. She was highly recommended on the locals’ Facebook groups and I just felt that she was the right person for me.

Three days ago, I went for my first appointment, and the rest is history… Hahaha, I wish! But so far, the progress in these last three days has been nothing short of encouraging, so without further ado. let’s jump right in!

Health and Mind Issues I Brought with Me to My First Acupuncture Appointment

  1. As I said, my number one concern was period issues: really painful periods (without anything being physically wrong with me), spotting for three days before the start of the proper flow, often with brown blood, periods still a little heavier than I would like, some breakouts during my periods, as well as exhaustion, anxiety and sleeplessness during that time of the month.
  2. Hot flashes, overheating, and sweating too much – these have been going on since puberty, but lately things had intensified to the point where I was really struggling during the summer.
  3. Cyclical mood swingsI talked about those in the past, but I feel amazing for maybe 5 days just before my period (which is when my estrogen and progesterone are both quite high I think) and then I feel quite worthless, doubtful, anxious, and unhappy throughout the rest of the month. I cant stand it, and I’m so ready to feel great all month long, not just during those 5 days. Most women have PMS before their periods, I have the best days of my life before my periods, hahaha! Why do I always have to be so different? (By the way, if you’re suffering from PMS, this post about PMS remedies might really help you.)
  4. Fatigue with occasional energy spurts – I crave steady energy more than anything. I’m so tired of feeling dull and uninterested in anything most of the time. Or I can suddenly start feeling super energetic and begin to do something only to crash and burn exactly an hour later. My energy doesn’t last, and I don’t have the same stamina that I used to have. I want it back!
  5. Dry skin – my face tends to be quite oily, but it can also get dry and flaky. I’ve had flaky skin on my scalp as long as I remember. My cuticles and feet have always been super dry. I guess I just really want to sort this dry skin out once and for all. Consistently! Because it does get better on some days (usually my happy days just before my period) and then gets worse again.
  6. Globus feeling and choking sensation in my neck – it’s got much better recently, but I still get it from time to time, especially when I eat cold or sour foods, or when I get stressed and anxious.

So these are the issues i had in mind when I went to the acupuncture appointment. it might seem like quite a lot, but they’re actually very much connected, and they all stem from the same imbalances, so they shouldn’t be too difficult to treat.

Next, let’s talk about what happened during the appointment.

Taking a Very Detailed Health History is Why I Respect Traditional Chinese Medicine So Much

Lisa sat me down and asked me what the issues that brought me to her were. Once I listed them, she started asking me questions which would help her create a very detailed picture of my overall health, both body and mind. She went through all the different areas, such as periods, digestion, lungs, bones and muscles, etc. She also asked me to describe what I would eat on a typical day. She asked if I exercised and how I did it, if I meditated or used any other stress management and calming techniques.

She also asked me if I was happy. I said I had all the reasons to be happy, but honestly, those days just before my period I feel happy, alive, and so grateful for my life. Other days, not so much, and I hate it, I feel guilty, I blame myself for feeling so ungrateful and miserable. When I get those glimpses of true contentment, they’re blissful, and I want them to last! I really hope acupuncture can help me with that.

It took us around 30 minutes to go through everything. Just that alone impressed me so much because nobody ever asked me so many questions. It’s a complete opposite to my experience of going to a regular doctor. Lisa actually wanted to know my body inside out.

Then she lay me down on the bed and listened to my pulse. First in one wrist, then the other. Then she listened to both at the same time.

She also looked at my tongue because the tongue can tell a lot about one’s health. In the West, we tend to think just about coating or no coating, red enough or too pale, etc. But TCM is so much more precise and descriptive.

Here’s What The Detailed Examination Revealed about My Health

Lisa said my tongue was quite red, but it was more on the purple side. It also had a bit more coating than she would have liked to see. There were a few cracks and a few red spots on the tongue as well.

She didn’t say anything about my pulse (or at least I don’t remember). But she did say that I had a mixed pattern (like most people in the West today) and that she was sure she could help me. It sounded like music to my ears.

Here’s what she said was wrong with me:

  • Liver Qi Stagnation and Blood Stagnation (these two often go together, and both are behind the spotting (slow to start periods), the brown blood, and the excruciating pain. They are called “full” patterns because they aren’t patterns of deficiency, the energy is simply “stuck”, not flowing properly, and acupuncture can be very helpful for that. Liver Qi Stagnation is also behind my tight diaphragm, shallow breathing, and the globus feeling in my neck.
  • Lisa also said I had some yin deficiency (not very strong) – liver yin deficiency, kidney yin deficiency, and heart yin deficiency. These are so called “empty” patterns because my yin is low in those organs. Yin is the cooling, healing, calming energy, the opposite is the yang energy. When yin is deficient, excess yang can cause something called “empty heat”, which is precisely the reason why I’ve been having those hot flashes and feeling really hot in the afternoons. Heart yin deficiency could explain my occasional heart palpitations that I’ve been getting for years and the excess sweating with the slightest exertion or any hint of stress.
  • Lisa also said that my breathing mechanisms were very poor, which by itself could cause lots of issues. It’s not news for me as I’ve been told by my own mum and husband that my breathing was too shallow. I knew that but I couldn’t do anything about it. Whenever I tried to breathe deeply during breathing exercises or meditation, I would feel my diaphragm tense up and I would feel like I was out of breath. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get over this barrier. It’s like as soon as I involved my brain in controlling the breathing, everything just tensed up and I couldn’t breathe at all. Healthy breathing is supposed to involve the belly but my belly wouldn’t move at all, which means that I was only breathing with my chest, or in other words only the top part of my lungs, so I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Lisa promised to teach me one little breathing exercise that would overcome the miscommunication between my brain and the diaphragm.

Mood swings and low energy are caused by all of the above imbalances. Each of them is partly to blame. So it will be interesting to see how working on those areas will make me more stable, both physically and mentally. There’s almost nothing I crave more than stability.

What Acupuncture Felt Like

I’m not really afraid of needles, and I read that acupuncture can be a highly relaxing experience, so I wasn’t scared. As my period was about to start, Lisa said she would focus first of all on the uterus, ovaries, hypothalamus (a gland in the brain that controls hormone production), and other organs that are in any way involved in the reproductive system. She said this would really help diminish the pain.

She also said she would focus on four extraordinary points, and then some points for the liver, gallbladder, spleen, and yin in various areas, also some relaxation points.

I’m sure she probably said more but I can’t remember. All in all, about 15 or 20 needles went in. I was lying on my back, so all the needles went into the front of my body (next time, we’ll tackle the back side).

With most, I didn’t feel anything at all (apparently I have a thick skin). There were a couple that really stung like a bee sting, and the stinging sensation continued for 10 seconds (the one between my eyebrows and in the left foot). The one in the right foot sent weird tingling sensations to the other side of the foot. It was such a strange feeling!

I asked Lisa what it meant when a needle was more painful or if there was tingling, and she said that it often meant that it moved more qi (energy) in that area. The feeling is basically the chi moving. Very interesting!

One needle also went in just above my pubic bone, I didn’t feel it at all, even though I was quite worried about that particular one. Lisa also directed a heating lamp to my pelvic region and left it there for the entire treatment. It felt so soothing. I get hot in my upper half of my body, but I adore heat on my lower belly and lower back.

There were a couple of points that sent waves of relaxation through my body: the one between my eyebrows and another one in my shin (I think, or was it the one in my left foot?)

Once all the needles were in, I was left to relax for around 15 minutes. Lisa told me to breathe deeply, as much as possible through my belly, and send my thoughts away. More or less like a little meditation session. I didn’t fall asleep, but I was close. Maybe next time!

Once the time was up, Lisa took out all the needles, wiped all the puncture points with alcohol, and that was it. Definitely not scary at all.

She also taught me a very simple but surprisingly effective breathing exercise that overcomes the tensing of the diaphragm and teaches the body how to breathe through the belly. I’ll talk about it in a separate blog post though because it totally deserves more attention on its own.

My Shoulder Rotator Cuff

For a couple of years, I’ve had nagging pain and tightness in my shoulder and when I do certain movements, the shoulder joint clicks. I also feel like it lacks strength compared to my right shoulder. As Lisa is also an osteopath, I asked if she could fix it, too. She had a look and said it looked like an issue with the shoulder rotator cuff, and that she would fix it next time we met. I can’t wait!

The idea of having a mixture of both acupuncture and osteopathy is amazing. All in one place and with the same person.

All in all, my first acupuncture took 90 minutes, I felt 100% understood and supported, and the best thing of all is that it only cost me 50 euros. Amazing!

We set up the next appointment in 10 days’ time and I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for me.

Any Changes in the First Three Days after Acupuncture?

As soon as I got up from the bed, my head felt much lighter. But other than that, I didn’t feel very different.

In the next few hours, I started noticing more and more changes. I was much more energetic: doing the chores and cooking dinner was actually quite pleasant (usually I really struggle to get started and then can’t wait to finish). My mood and energy levels stayed great until the end of the day. My digestion was very calm – no rumbling, no excess hunger. It might sound crazy but I swear my cuticles felt softer and my nails looked a little shinier already on the first evening.

When I woke up in the morning ready to face the day, I was very surprised to see that it was only 7AM. Generally I don’t wake up naturally before 8AM. We went to bed just after midnight, so it was quite little sleep but I felt well rested. I woke up with extremely soft and nourished skin on my face and all over my body. My hair has been glorious ever since the acupuncture session as well.

I’ve also been feeling very calm and steady. My energy is still fantastic, the mood is elated, and I can’t stop doing things. Jumping up from the chair and going to forgotten something I’ve forgotten is now effortless while before it was always a hassle.

My productivity and creative power are through the roof. It’s so easy to write now because I don’t struggle putting the words together like in the past. I wrote this blog post of 3,000 words in just three sessions of 25 minutes each. I reached a flow state and it was effortless.

The flow state had been out of reach for me for almost two years until now.

I feel inspired to finally get started with my projects that I’ve been postponing for too long.

I seem to sweat a little less but I still get hot (on the other hand, we’re having another heat wave, so that’s kind of expected). My temperature control seems to be a little better anyway.

Another incredible change is that the pouch I always had on my lower belly completely disappeared within hours. I reckon it was water retention and I’d been trying to get rid of it for months if not years. That lower belly pouch is notoriously difficult to get rid of with exercises or diet. Now my belly is completely flat when I run my hand across it. It might sound crazy, but I haven’t felt it like this since maybe the age of 12 when I started having my periods and everything changed for the worse.

I breathe deeper and my belly is involved in it so much more. I don’t know how much of it is due to the acupuncture, and how much due to the breathing exercise I’ve been doing, but I definitely feel like my body is getting more oxygen. I’ll surely continue with my little breathing exercise 5 times a day until I see Lisa next time.

The choking sensation in my neck has almost completely disappeared. There’s probably around 10% left.

I think that’s all I’ve noticed for now. I’ll let you know how my next appointment goes, and if you haven’t tried acupuncture yet, I highly recommend it. I’ve gone from an acupuncture virgin to a die-hard fan. and I’ve already turned my sister and possibly one friend onto it. 🙂

If you’re in Tenerife, check out Lisa’s website. She’s based in Fañabe in the south of the island.

Thank you for reading. Hope that my experience encourages you to try acupuncture, or something that’s new to you if you’re stuck in your healing journey.

Have you ever tried acupuncture? Or Traditional Chinese Medicine? How was it for you?

Simply yours,
Vita xx

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