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Acupuncture can be almost miraculous in how quickly it sets the body on track...or it can involve slow but steady improvements over time. At our clinic we tell patients that acupuncture is a wonderful tool that guides the body to wake up its own healing processes...but it can't always overcome the unhealthy habits that caused their issues in the first place. While we do see people get results even when they don't take proper care of themselves, giving the body the foundation it needs to repair will make acupuncture treatments that much more effective.
So what can you do to lay that solid framework for healing? It's as simple as doing all of the things you know you should be doing, such as choosing nutritious foods and beverages, giving yourself adequate rest, staying active, and spending time outside. In fact, all of these things alone can help you feel a lot better, as best said in this poem by Wayne Fields:
When it comes to acupuncture, however, the fundamentals of health serve an even greater purpose in giving the body what it needs to heal. The needles are a guide, a how-to manual for the body to know where to go and what to focus on, and these health essentials give it the fuel it needs to actually do the work. More specifically:
- Nutrition: It takes a lot of energy to heal, and building blocks are a necessary component when you want to rebuild something, right? We get our energy - measured in calories - and macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. from the food we eat, which means making good diet choices will have a huge impact on your healing process. (If you don't believe us, read this quick article detailing the nutritional guidelines for burn victims.) Don't eat well because of weight worries or guilt but because you love your body and want to heal. If acupuncture is a tool, nutrients from food are the raw materials; all the hammers in the world won't help you build a house if you don't have any wood.
- Hydration: This is a subset of nutrition in that water is another building block. Water will flush out stuck toxins, provide a medium for chemical reactions to occur, fill the cells to their proper size, etc. Acupuncture improves circulation, but if you're dehydrated there won't be much to circulate!
- Activity: Speaking of circulation, another way to get things moving in your body is to get moving yourself. Acupuncture increases feel good hormones and natural pain killers...and exercise does that as well. Get started on a gentle fitness routine - Hippocrates (the "Father of Medicine" from ancient Greece) said, "Walking is the best medicine." - and do light stretching as well. See our post "Essential Oils for Fitness" if you need a little more motivation in this area, and if walking isn't an option for you, look into options like Qigong or chair yoga.
- Rest: Our two biggest concerns when a patient complains of excruciating pain is his or her ability to eat and to sleep. Eating we already covered, and sleep is when the body does most of its repairs. While acupuncture puts the body into the "rest and digest" state in which it can heal, an hour-long treatment is nothing compared to eight hours in this state at home.
- Earthing: Getting outside has a host of health benefits - sunshine stimulates vitamin D production in the skin, clean air replenishes qi in the body, etc. - and we're especially big advocates of earthing or grounding because it can neutralize free radicals and decrease inflammation. Again, acupuncture helps with inflammation as well, but working on it between treatments will mean we have less of a hill to climb when you come in for your appointments.
Does this cover EVERY good habit that can improve your acupuncture outcomes? No, of course not! There are many other aspects to holistic health that are healing on their own in addition to priming the body to do its best work during an acupuncture session. If you want more advice along these lines, Kathleen's book Healing Beachside: Making Natural Health as Easy as a Beach Vacation contains ten principles of natural health - including those listed here - and challenges to incorporate them into your daily routine.
No matter what brings you to our clinic, following these 6+ "doctors" will set you up to get the most out of your treatments. Even when your body feels like it's back in balance, continue in the same healthy habits to prevent future issues, increase longevity, and all-around just feel great!
Kathleen Ellerie is a Licensed Acupuncturist and the owner of Beachside Community Acupuncture. She loves providing affordable acupuncture to the residents of Addison, Dallas, and Farmers Branch, Texas, and educating the general public on how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat everything from pain to infertility to stress and beyond. Click "Book Now" at the top of this page to book an appointment or feel free to contact her at (214) 417-2260.