I’d like to get acupuncture but I’m really afraid of needles. How big are the needles? Do they hurt? Is there some way ofcalming needle-phobic people down before treating them?
John D. Convey, L. Ac.: The fear of needles is common amongst many of us. This is due in part to the traumatic experiences of childhood vaccinations and, possibly, the needle used to stitch up a deep wound. Whatever your exposure was, it most likely hurt. Lucky for you, and for me too…the needles used for acupuncture are extremely fine, like a hair. In fact, acupuncture needles are so small that several can be inserted into the head of a hypodermic needle (the kind of needle that causes pain). The reality is that acupuncture needles are designed to part cells, capillaries and nerves. This is unlike hypodermic needles, which are designed to cut thru blood vessels and break into the body. This causes pain and is much more invasive than an acupuncture needle.
Hopefully, this knowledge will help lift the phobia. Also, seek out an acupuncturist that is confident and experienced. Part of fear is the not-knowing factor. Having a provider that can articulate how the procedure will work and what to expect with the needles will surely quell some of the fear. As with any medical providers, bedside manners can make or break your experience. Find an acupuncturist that you feel you can trust and who listens to your needs. This will definitely help minimize the perceived pain that an acupuncture needle may inflict.
Most people report no pain sensation with 90% of the needles. At worst, the needle prick might feel like a little shock from static electricity, more surprise than anything. People tend to become very relaxed and drift off into a state of bliss. We encourage each patient to keep an open mind and focus on their personal healing.
How does acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat a common cold?
John D. Convey, L. Ac.: The common cold has been ailing human beings for as long as we have been a species. The Chinese studied the common cold for thousands of years. The Neijing Suwen (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine) was written circa 300 B.C. It refers to the “evil pathogenic factors” (cold or heat) being carried by the wind and forced into the body through the skin. The body’s natural defenses—fever, chills and body aches—are in response to the “war” being waged within it. The friction created from the body pushing against the force of the wind is what produces a fever. The chills follow after the body has become exhausted from pushing against the wind. The body then tightens the pores in response to the fever and chills in hopes to restrict the winds entry, resulting in body aches. The specific type of chi that controls this mechanism is called Wei Qi or Defensive Qi (pronounced chee).
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs help facilitate the body’s own reactions to the pathogenic factors. With points and herbs that promote sweating and stimulate the immune system, the body receives the added strength it needs to ward off the cold.
In my practice I have used Chinese folk remedies with much success. For the common cold the Chinese make a soup that you can easily adopt. Take a medium size ginger root, peel and slice; one bunch of green onions (scallions) chopped; brown sugar to taste and 6 cups of drinking water. Add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and steep for 25 minutes. Drink a cup of warm tea 3-6 times a day upon onset of cold. The tea not only taste great but it will help warm-up the body and aid with sweating away your cold.
I’ve recently reduced and eventually eliminated depression medication from my daily life because I realized I could not handle the side effects. I must admit, and I am sure many others feel the same way, I am scared I will slip back into the depression. I’ve had cyclical bouts of severe depression coupled with anxiety since I was a teenager, and it really disrupts my life; I can hardly leave the house. The sexual side effects of the medication were so severe I just didn’t feel alive anymore, not to mention the weight gain, the added anxiety, and my inability to focus on work. Can depression be treated with acupuncture and herbs? If so, how?
John D. Convey, L. Ac.: Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very effective in the treatment and management of chronic or acute depression. The Chinese viewed depression as lack of oxygen to the brain leading to a feeling of stagnation and despair. Without ample oxygen, the brain is left to operate in a less than optimal environment. Depression can feel like you are sinking in quicksand. Chinese medicine provides the patient with an intricate rope, woven of increased oxygen to the brain and a release of endorphins throughout the body, with which they can pull themselves out. With the additional oxygen, the brain can preserve homeostasis (the body’s natural balanced state) and provide a much more condusive environment to reside.
Regular acupuncture visits (bi-weekly to weekly in the beginning) and the proper herbal formula would become part of the patients treatment plan. This paired with plenty of water (1/2 your body weight in ounces per day) a healthy diet (go green) and daily exercise (yes, daily) will contribute to a person’s overall sense of well being.
John has taken inspiration from traditional Japanese culture, techniques and traditions to develop Evolve’s unique Center for Wellness. For fifteen years, he has studied with Master Kiiko Matsumoto, L.A.C.
John is a Board member for “Acupuncturists without Borders” and is an international trainer throughout the world. Upon returning from his journey, he is often filled with renewed, enlightened and insightful information about the practice of acupuncture and the value of maintaining a healthy life. He enjoys sharing his experiences, knowledge and amazing stories with his beloved West Hollywood patients and the readers of Out Impact.
John Convey co-founded Evolve Wellness Foundation (http://www.EvolveWellnessFoundation.org), a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit with Ulrik Neumann. EWF has been serving Los Angeles for over a year with free auricular acupuncture clinics.
Latest posts by JohnConvey (see all)
- Point Well Taken: Taking Your Questions on Acupuncture, Depression – January 31, 2011
- To The Point: Acupuncture: Its Growth In the United States & How It Works – December 6, 2010
- Point Well Taken: Acupuncture To Treat & Balance During HIV Medications – November 1, 2010