Acupuncture 101

in Acupuncture 101

When the Husband and I first started dating as undergraduates, I really didn’t know much about natural medicine and acupuncture.  I thought it was a little weird, actually!  After all, Chinese medicine, acupuncture needles, and strange-smelling herbs are completely unlike the medicine that most Americans grow up experiencing.  


But now that I know more about Chinese medicine and have seen it successfully treat many patients at the Husband’s clinic, I’m a huge fan.  It’s a gentle, holistic, and effective approach to healthcare.  And that’s not saying there’s something wrong with Western medicine – I think the best healthcare includes BOTH holistic and Western treatments.  A time and a place for everything!


I get lots of lots of questions about acupuncture, so the Husband and I thought it would be fun to put together an Acupuncture 101 post, addressing the most common FAQs!  Here we go…


How does acupuncture work?  This is a simple question with a VERY complicated answer.  The ‘Chinese medicine’ view of acupuncture is that the body is comprised of meridians, or energy channels, that run all over your body.  Each meridian impacts different organs and body parts.  The lung meridian, for example, runs down your arms and has a divergent channel that goes to the lungs.  The acupuncturist uses very thin needles to manipulate points along the meridian; one of the goals of these manipulations is to remove blocked energy, or qi, and promote healing.  Think of the meridian as a garden hose that waters a flowerbed.  If there’s a kink, the hose won’t be able to water the flower.  The ‘Western medicine’ view of acupuncture is that the needles increase blood circulation, activate the release of certain hormones, neurotransmitters and produces an immune response to speed healing.


What do these points feel like?  Some points you can sense yourself, even without needles!  There’s a point between your thumb and pointer fingers that, when squeezed for several minutes, will help relieve headaches – it really works, try it!  The point is very sensitive but squeeze hard! I use it on the Girls on the Run girls when they complain of headaches all the time.


Another point you can try at home is a point for nausea.  It’s right on the inside of your forearm near the wrist in between the two tendons that run down your arm.  Have you ever seen those seasickness bracelets that have a little dot that presses on this spot?  They work because they are hitting a special acupuncture spot for upset stomach!  (This is why so many pregnant women use acupuncture during the first trimester – and beyond.)


Is acupuncture just about needles?  Nope!  Most acupuncturists will also use complementary techniques such as cupping (here’s my Cupping 101 post), electro-simulation, massage, and herbology to heal.  Some people feel nervous when their acupuncturist prescribe herbs, but herbs from quality sources are perfectly safe.  The Husband, for example, uses organic herbs that are tested by third-party auditors. 


Does acupuncture hurt?  Many people are turned off by needles, but the truth is that acupuncture needles are VERY thin… as thin as a strand of hair.  You might not even be able to feel the needle going in.  If you do feel it, it will be a small prick or tingling sensation.  The needles are clean, of course.  A practitioner is not allowed to ever re-use a needle.


What conditions can acupuncture treat and how often do you need treatments?  A well-trained acupuncturist (see below) can help almost any condition.  Acupuncture can relieve pain conditions, headaches, digestive issues, fertility problems, insomnia, and more.  More acute conditions (like a pulled muscle) might only need a few treatments, but more serious conditions might require one – two treatments a week for several months, plus maintenance treatments.   Because acupuncture is natural medicine, it takes longer.  If you can couple your acupuncture treatments with an effective herbal fomrula or supplement regimen, it will be much faster. My troublesome knee, for example, was greatly relieved by several treatments over a month plus supplements that targeted ligament healing.  Also – check with your health insurance, because many insurances will cover acupuncture! 


What about all the conflicting research about whether or not acupuncture is effective?  Well, there’s also conflicting research about all types of medicine!  The Husband’s response to this question is that it’s difficult to study the effectiveness of acupuncture because there’s way too many variables that go into Traditional Chinese medicine.  There are many different points, manipulations, herbs, and lifestyle recommendations that can be used to treat the same condition, and the treatment plan will vary GREATLY from person to person.  In summary:  find a good practitioner, give it time to work, and decide for yourself.


How do you choose an acupuncturist?  The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is your go-to resource!  You want to find a practitioner that is both state AND nationally board certified under NCCAOM.  Unfortunately, in some states, people can take a weekend-long crash course in acupuncture and call themselves an acupuncturist.  The Husband went to graduate school for an accelerated THREE year program and did thousands of clinical hours before he had to take four rigorous national exams (Western Biomedicine/Western Sciences, Chinese Herbology, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine).  If someone has a Diplomat of Oriental Medicine or DOM after their name, that means they passed all four of the national boards.


What will my first appointment be like?  You’ll complete a patient history form, like you do at other doctors, before coming in.  During the appointment, the practitioner will go over your history, inquire about your current symptoms, and check your pulse and look at your tongue (which reveal a lot to an acupuncturist).  Then, you’ll probably be asked to put on a medical gown and lay on a massage table.  The practitioner will insert approximately five to a dozen needles, depending on his/her treatment plan for you.  Once the needles are in, they will be left in for five to thirty minutes.  The practitioner might manipulate them at certain intervals throughout the treatment.  Then, the needles will be removed, and you’re done!


Have you tried acupuncture or another holistic medicine treatment?  What did you think of it?



  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table May 18, 2011, 9:13 am

    I haven’t tried acupuncture, but I did have needle therapy done. I understand it’s similar – uses the same needles but the theory is a bit different. It COMPLETELY cured my shin splints, which was no small feat. Total believer in holistic medicine.

  • Samantha Angela May 18, 2011, 9:15 am

    Is there a similar website to find a DCM in Canada?

    • Jordan June 12, 2012, 7:33 pm

      This site can direct you to a registered Acupuncturist in British Columbia Canada.

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg May 18, 2011, 9:17 am

    I have not tried acupuncture but I’d like to at some point. I do use that pressure point on your hand trick — it helps if I have a headache and it also helps if I’m feeling overwhelmed or overly anxious.

  • Halley (Blunder Construction) May 18, 2011, 9:18 am

    Thanks for sharing this! I am really fascinated by holistic medicine. I love that you can just press a certain point on your body and feel relief from certain things! It makes me think twice about popping Excedrin every time I feel a headache coming on.

  • Larissa May 18, 2011, 9:19 am

    can you get certified in only acupuncture? i know your husband has an advanced degree in other specialties as well, however i was interested in getting certified in acupuncture to supplement but podiatry degree.. thoughts?

  • Alayna @ Thyme Bombe May 18, 2011, 9:19 am

    Thanks for doing this post! I have never tried acupuncture because I’m so afraid of needles, but I’ve had several people tell me they experienced good results so I’m thinking of giving it a try anyway.

  • McKella May 18, 2011, 9:22 am

    I haven’t tried acupuncture, but I have worked with a holistic doctor for depression and anxiety. Turns out a lot of the problem was extremely low blood sugar, but by using emotional healing techniques, supplements and a few dietary tweaks, I feel so much better now. Sometimes cures are so simple. Worked so much better than antidepressants I’ve tried before. Does acupuncture help things like depression?

  • Freya May 18, 2011, 9:22 am

    I’ve had it! I’m quite a sceptic so I won’t in not really believing in it, and didn’t feel any different after. BUT I’d love to try it again – my mum is a firm believer in it, and a lot of her clients get it. Plus my physio is trained to do it on sports injuries.
    This is a great post!

    • Freya May 18, 2011, 9:25 am

      Oh, and I totally think you should make it a regular thing, to explain the therapies the husband does. I’d be so fascinated 🙂

    • Ana May 23, 2011, 1:22 am

      I am a type 2 diabetic and acupunture treatments have saved me from diabetic complications that required emergency surgery in several occasions. I also had several car accidents that left me with back injuries and a rotator cuff injury, again, acupunture saved me and helped me with the pain from my injuries. I believe in acupunture because it helps me manage the quality of life I have today.

  • kalli@fitandfortysomething May 18, 2011, 9:23 am

    acupunture saved my life earlier in the school year. i had terrible pifiromis pain and sciatica….rest and accupunture saved me!

  • Rachael @ Mrs-Adventure May 18, 2011, 9:28 am

    Great Post Caitlin you guys rock!

  • Hats @ See How She Runs May 18, 2011, 9:33 am

    This is really interesting! I’ll bear it in mind the next time I have some aches or pains that need treating.

  • Laine May 18, 2011, 9:33 am

    I love it! My acupuncturist is right next door to my office so I go there as needed. She’s like my PCP – the first place I go when something is wrong. She’s treated me for anxiety, insomnia, sinus stuff, migraines, sore back/shoulder/neck, weird stomach stuff, arm pain, etc. My sister went throughout her whole pregnancy, my brothers go for back pain.

    I went the other day after work for some shooting pain down my arm. She had about 20 needles in me, I think! When she was done I felt like I had just had a giant martini. I was so relaxed and slightly spaced out.

  • Julie @ Shining From Within May 18, 2011, 9:33 am

    Thanks for the info! I’ve always wanted to try acupuncture but I was so unaware of it all. Those are great tips for helping with nausea and headaches!

  • Miranda @ Working Mom Works Out May 18, 2011, 9:34 am

    I haven’t tried it but I think my brother did for anxiety and it *did* help. Very cool post,

  • salah@myhealthiestlifestyle May 18, 2011, 9:40 am

    I have been wanting to try acupuncture for a long while now! This was such a great post thank you for sharing!

  • Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me May 18, 2011, 9:40 am

    Thanks for this post! I am very interested in trying this for some knee pain I’ve been experiencing. The only bad thing is it’s so expensive!! I don’t think I can afford it right now so I’m hoping insurance will cover it somewhat.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) May 18, 2011, 9:41 am

    I know this will sound crazy, but I have a book on acupressure. I use it for helping the boys with headaches and tummy aches. I’ve used it for all kinds of stuff though. Not anything major. It really worked at relieving prostate pain when my husband had an infection. Seems the feets, hands and head are great places to apply pressure to for pain and discomfort. Either it helped the the pains or all the boys just like me pressing on the feet hands and noggins!

  • Rachel @ The Perseverance Diaries May 18, 2011, 9:42 am

    Thank you so much for posting this, I have been intrigued with acupuncture for some time now. I believe in using Western medicine if needed but also combining more Eastern, holistic therapies. It’s all very interesting to me. It’s crazy how foreign it may seem to people in the U.S and other places yet it’s so common in other parts of the world. We don’t even know what we’re missing out on!

  • Amanda May 18, 2011, 9:43 am

    I haven’t tried accupuncture. Are there any accupuncture treatments for allergies? I am suffering from horrible allergies and natural releif would be much better then the numerous medicines I get…

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat May 18, 2011, 9:49 am

    Caitlin, thank you SO much for this post! I was totally uninformed about what exactly acupuncture was supposed to do and how, and I’m so gad you cleared things up! Before, the thought of having needles driven into me wasn’t overly appealing, but I’m not really scared of them so I think I might try this at some point!

  • Leah @ L4L May 18, 2011, 9:54 am

    Natural medicine gave me my life back.

    I was having chronic diarrhea and head fog for over two years. I saw umpteen Western doctors – regular physicians that referred me to GI specialists. I had blood work and other non-appealing tests including an endoscopy run on me for over a year. The last guy I saw basically said he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and told me to self-medicate with immodium. Seriously?

    I ended up going to see my Dad’s naturopath/acupuncturist. He did some kind of electromagnetic testing on my that came up with a laundry list of foods I have negative reactions to. I cut them out of my diet completely, starting getting acupuncture once a month, and taking herbs and I am symptom free (unless I cheat on the diet). It is absolutely amazing the changes I have seen over the past 6 months. I feel like a completely different person.

  • Crystal May 18, 2011, 9:57 am

    I am a huge success story of holistic medicine! The basic philosophy to me is health from the inside out rather than a band-aid approach. I use chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, and many other modalities to maintain my wellness as well as to become more well and aware. I just want to share one story for those who are on the fence about this type of healing; I was in a terrible bike accident, of which I am lucky to be alive. One of the hardest parts for me (I was 22 at the time) was being told that the muscles in my face were so badly damaged I would have to have plastic surgery to look “normal”. I was devastated and turned to my acupuncturist (to me my primary care Doc) and he worked with me in many ways. I am happy to report, I have never had surgery and all I am left with is a tiny scar above my lip! Holistic healing rocks! Try it!!

  • Kristen May 18, 2011, 10:01 am

    I didnt know that acupuncture could help with infertility. I dont have this issue, but its very interesting!

  • Lauren May 18, 2011, 10:01 am

    I would definitely try this if I needed to! I think alternative medicine could be a great choice over conventional where meds are the norm. It’s crazy to think that nutrition therapy is sometimes viewed as “alternative” by doctors.

  • Kendall (On An Inhale) May 18, 2011, 10:04 am

    I love acupuncture. I wish more people would would be open to trying it. I agree with you about combining western and eastern medicine. I think that we would all be so much healthier if doctors didn’t jump right into medications and told patients to try alternative therapies first. Great post!

    • Kierstan @ Life {and running} in Iowa May 18, 2011, 10:18 am

      Agree! I would be awesome if all doctors could work together to treat patients. If making changes to your diet could ‘cure’ you of your heart issues – awesome! Let’s try that first before we start pumping you full of meds and schedule surgeries.

  • Jodie May 18, 2011, 10:18 am

    I have been reading your blog for quite a while, but haven’t ever commented. I HAD to respond to this post, however! I have been getting acupuncture treatments and doing herbal therapy for about 3 months now due to my period being mysteriously missing for over two years despite the fact that all tests indicate that I am perfectly healthy (other than my hormone levels being out of whack.) Just this past week I got my period and my hormone levels have changed! I was skeptical at best about the process going in, but now I am a true believer and will look to holistic medicine for future issues as well!

  • jane May 18, 2011, 10:36 am

    i have a question. so i was reading you “top posts” (because it is so much more fun than writing a law review article!!) and was wondering if you are still in physical therapy school. i dont think you are-but just making sure i didnt miss something! 🙂

  • Joanna@ Drizzle of Sunshine May 18, 2011, 10:40 am

    Wow! Great tips! I like the two pressure spots you told us about. I get terribly seasick and carsick. I’ll have to remember that one!
    My friend just opened his own office for Holistic Medicine. I was a little leary about it because I didn’t know what it was but after reading your post maybe I’ll go in and try it out!

  • May 18, 2011, 10:51 am

    Thank you so much for the post. I was a bit afraid of Acupuncture, but I think it was because I did not understand it. I usually fear that I do not understand. Now that it makes more sense to me, I am willing to give it a try. Thank you! Hope you are soaking up the sun : )

  • Nikki May 18, 2011, 10:53 am

    Thanks for this! I love the tip about the pressure point for nausea. I get nauseous every single day when I ride the subway 20 minutes to and from work, even if I manage to grab a seat and keep my eyes closed the whole time. I’m going to try this on my way home.

    • krista May 18, 2011, 12:33 pm

      Go to any Walgreens/CVS type pharmacy, and get the seasick bands! They do the same thing, and you don’t have to keep pressing yourself.

      • May 18, 2011, 1:07 pm

        My hubby is a pilot and gets lots of motion sickness by car, plane, or ship. Do you think these bands can help with all of the above?

        • krista May 18, 2011, 1:26 pm

          Certainly can’t hurt! They are cheap, he should try them. I also recommend them for first trimester nausea!

  • Erin May 18, 2011, 10:54 am

    I would totally try it. I love the idea of a doctor treating a person holistically and I’m open to new ideas. Sadly, my insurance doesn’t cover it (although it does cover chiropractors) so I don’t think I’ll be trying it anytime soon.

  • katie @ KatieDid May 18, 2011, 10:55 am

    This was very informative, I have been interested in complementary and alternative medicine within the last year or so. I have yet to try acupuncture ($$), but if I have some sort of ailment in the future I will absolutely be giving it a shot. I hope to go in the direction of alternative medicine and bodywork after college, possibly some kind of massage therapy.

  • Jenn May 18, 2011, 10:55 am

    I’ve been doing acupuncture since December to treat my migraines. I still get them and still take 2 prescription meds to help, and honestly…I don’t know! I will have a stretch of a 2-3 good weeks, then BAM! Like now, I’ve had this headached (including 3 debilitating days in bed) for almost 3 1/2 weeks. My next step is to look into my diet. I’ve been avoiding that since I know it will be HARD! Thanks for the explanation. I love that we have a doctor coming to our school nurse’s clinic twice a week to see us teachers and staff. No office appt and no co-pay! The doc is using needles and electrodes on me. Usually the needles are in my lower legs, but last week he tried in my back for the first time. Where might the Husband do the needles to treat my migraine?

    Thanks again for all the info. Acupuncture IS NOT SCARY!!

  • Wendi Matt May 18, 2011, 11:00 am

    I have been wanting to try acupuncture. I have heard so many good things about it and if you go to a chiropractor, you can go to an acupuncturist because both focus on correcting the nervous system. I tried the two ones you used and I could feel the nerve I was pinching! Next time I have a headache, I will try that.

    question: Is there anything I can do when I have tight traps? Like a pressure point I can use?

    Thanks for writing about this. I really want to try one!

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing May 18, 2011, 11:12 am

    Interesting post Caitlin! I had a lot of accupuncture done last year on some chronic pain in one of my shoulders. I still have the issue now unfortunately, but I think we did manage to determine that my issues are largely caused by sitting at a desk – aka the problem won’t go away until I stop sitting all day!

  • Lisa May 18, 2011, 11:14 am

    I started going to someone a few months ago, when training for my marathon. He totally kept me balanced during that period. He studied in China (I think many Israelis do that) and I call him my Chinese doctor, even though he’s 100% Jewish Israeli (I guess that’s just an inside joke with myself). Everytime I see a pic of your husband in his tie, or of his clinic, I’m amazed at the difference in formality! Usually my doc is in work-out clothes! Anyway, the treatments are amazing and really helped me a lot. I don’t think that everything can be fixed (i.e. chronic problems or physiological problems) but the ability to help deal with pain is a huge part of a solution for many people. Anyway, long story short, I’m a huge fan!

  • Kim May 18, 2011, 11:38 am

    I adore my acupuncture treatments! My first OMG moment was when I had a torn bursa in my right shoulder (swimming with dolphins injury…for real) and I hadn’t been able to lift my arm without pain for 3 weeks. I went in, he put a needle in my left ankle and started moving it around and lo and behold I COULD TOTALLY MOVE AND ROTATE MY ARM WITHOUT PAIN! Western medicine had failed to help and told me to just let it rest. I was tired of downing copious amounts of Ibuprofen and checked out Acupuncture based on a friend’s recommendation. Three visits later I was good as new and back to my yoga addiction that I’d been missing while on injured reserve. Since that wonderful experience I’ve been open to trying him for other things where I feel Western Medicine has failed me. For example, he’s now treating me for issues that he says are related to spleen qi. We’re using acupuncture and herbs (tastes like a boiled bamboo spoon with maple syrup…bleh) and I think I’m feeling some differences. But, as you mentioned, this one takes time to treat! Oh, as an aside. I happened to visit him the same day I got my braces on and I had some major mouth pain going on. He treated me for that in addition to my normal appointment plan and I walked out of there with the throbbing gone. Amazing! Anyway, as you can see I’m a convert!

    I always forget to ask him what the tongue tells him, however. Can you give us a little insight into what exactly they’re looking for and how it tells them what’s up? That’d be appreciated.

    Great post!

  • Sarah for Real May 18, 2011, 11:39 am

    I tried acupuncture for my migraines a while back but was unable to stick with it long enough to see results. My acupuncturist didn’t supplement with herbs either. I think if I try it again, I will find one that does.

  • Amy May 18, 2011, 11:40 am

    Any ideas for links/good reads on accupuncture for ADHD/anxiety in young teens?

  • Amy Ramos May 18, 2011, 11:43 am

    I love acupuncture! I have been going for 3 months to help with fertility problems. While it has not helped me get PG, I do feel better. My period have been regulated (they were irractic after going off BCP 2 yrs ago and being on them for 15+ yrs). To me, it is like therapy, plus insurance covers it!!!

  • Katherine May 18, 2011, 11:44 am

    Acupuncture has been the only thing that has helped me with eczema and allergies. I’ve been a regular acupuncture go-er/chinese medicine-taker for four years. Things have gone so well that right now I am actually not taking herbs. I am 30 weeks pregnant, took herbs through my first trimester (as recommended by my acupuncturist – safe for preggos) and continue to regularly have acupuncture treatments. If you have any medical concern, it is my top recommendation!

  • Caitlin @ The Caitie Experiment May 18, 2011, 11:49 am

    I haven’t, but I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to it! My gym actually does “Wellness Fairs” where they have certified massage therapists and acupuncturists come in for a day, and they schedule in 15-minute blocks to see them as part of your membership. I missed last spring’s fair, but I’m on the lookout for this year’s!

    Funny story, but my coworker swears her acupuncturist is psychic. Twice now, she has been in the middle of treatment and this little Chinese lady has told her she is pregnant with a little girl — and this after months and months of trying to conceive — and she was, both times!

  • April May 18, 2011, 11:53 am

    I haven’t tried acupuncture, but I do have a homeopath that I am VERY happy with. I would definitely recommend giving alternative medicine a try!!

  • Heather May 18, 2011, 12:05 pm

    I have tried acupunture for an ankle injury, it worked well!

    I also saw a naturopath for stomach pain that I was having that wester doctors could not figure out…I was on all kinds of medication and went for some pretty invasive tests….she gave me herbs and did some food sensitivity testing and it has really helped!

  • Cait @ Beyond Bananas May 18, 2011, 12:19 pm

    Awesome post. I honestly knew nothing about acupuncture until now. Thanks for teaching me so much ! 🙂

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) May 18, 2011, 12:29 pm

    I have always been a little turned off my acupuncture, but this post definitely opened my eyes. Something to look into in the future!

  • Kaye May 18, 2011, 12:36 pm

    This post makes me want to laugh and cry! Thanks for writing this!I grew up using those pressure points (I was raised really, really, Chinese) and still use them today! This makes me miss my mom so much. I love acupuncture, I’ve been trying to convince my fiance to try it for his back spasms, but it’s a no-go…so far. I’m working on it.

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey May 18, 2011, 12:38 pm

    I’ve never gotten accupuncture done, but I really believe in holistic medicine. I regularly go to a holistic doctor, and like you said, I combine both western medicine and holistic medicine!

  • JavaChick May 18, 2011, 12:53 pm

    I have never had accupuncture, but my husband who has a serious fear of needles has had it and says it worked for him.

  • Christina May 18, 2011, 1:07 pm

    Really interesting post! I think it’s really great to learn about things outside “the norm” and it sounds like this works more to treat the cause of the problems rather than just the symptoms, which I like. I’m really curious about the tongue thing though – what does the tongue tell the doctor??? It just sounds really funny! 🙂

  • Hwasun May 18, 2011, 1:08 pm

    I am Korean living in Korea. So I am somewhat familiar with acupuncture. Like in China acupuncture is something people have done over hundreds of years here. Actually my father can do little bit of it because he learned it himself a few years ago. (But I never let him practice on me! Scared! Sorry dad!)

    I am ridiculously scared of needles so last year was my first experience of acupuncture depiste being Korean! Surprisingly it didn’t hurt – slightly uncomfortable when it was done on my ankle but other than that I almost didn’t feel anything. It helped my injury from running.

    Btw I find it so interesting to see many people in the states interested in acupuncture!

  • Veronica (Run Write Repeat) May 18, 2011, 1:24 pm

    I tried acupuncture in high school, when I had migraines that would last for months at a time. It really worked, combined with some Western medicinal practices as well. Glad to see you promoting an often forgotten branch of medicine!

  • JenRD May 18, 2011, 1:26 pm

    I am a big supporter of accupuncture and Chinese medicine, and encourage my patients (as a dietitian) to try accupuncture to help with digestive issues, stress, and nasuea in pregnancy. I myself tried it as a fertility treatment. I went twice a week for 3 months. They used needles, as well as lighting some type of incense (an herb?) from a small cigar-type thing on a needle in my stomach (sorry for the poor description!), and I took herbs. It did not work for me, however I believe that is because I needed to change my lifestyle and reduce the stressors in my life. At the time I was in a very stressful job–and having two appointments a week was only adding to my stress. Needless to say, I viewed it more of a burden than a help, and therefore don’t believe I gave it a fair chance. After I got a new job, became a much happier and more relaxed person, and tried Western fertility treatment, I was able to become pregnant. I actually would give it another chance in the future, though! The needles really did not hurt at all.

  • Mel May 18, 2011, 1:29 pm

    I’m sure that acupuncture does help a lot of people, but I would be interested to hear the husband’s views on the possibility that the benefits from it are due to a placebo effect. Maybe it is his kindly bedside manner that is helping patients, or the fact that they believe they are receiving treatment which will help them?

  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat May 18, 2011, 1:34 pm

    This stuff is fascinating, thanks for sharing!

  • monicanelsonfitness May 18, 2011, 1:53 pm

    Great post! I have only done it a handful of times. Lucky you.

    I believe in it and encourage it all the way. 🙂

  • Molly @ RDexposed May 18, 2011, 2:00 pm

    I think we need to intergrate Western and hollistic health. Both have their benefits. My PT has done wonders on my bum knee with taping and exercises.

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss May 18, 2011, 2:26 pm

    I’ve never tried acupuncture but definitely would someday. If it can really do such amazing things as people claim, it seems like something worth trying!!

  • Truc May 18, 2011, 2:50 pm

    FYI for anyone thinking about acupuncture, you can’t donate blood for a year after you have it done. Food for thought if you try to donate blood regularly (and I hope you do!).

    • CaitlinHTP May 18, 2011, 4:34 pm

      Do you have a source on this?

      The Husband says this isn’t true in the USA (not sure where you live). He had a Red Cross van in front of his school for a week each semester gather blood from patients and doctors.

      This one from Red Cross says you cannot only if you suspect the doctor hasn’t used a clean needle (which is totally illegal to do anyway and no acupuncturist in American ever would):

      American Red Cross also says its ok:

      • Truc May 18, 2011, 4:51 pm

        Huh, that’s interesting. When I last donated blood (after moving areas), I remember noticing that acupuncture was listed along with piercing and tattoos as things you had to wait a year to donate after. (Perhaps I noticed it because it was a change from what I’d seen before.) There isn’t a Red Cross in my area; it’s a local organization, so perhaps their requirements are different. Glad to be corrected!

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife May 18, 2011, 3:05 pm

    thanks for the FYI, this was very informative.

  • Katherine May 18, 2011, 3:10 pm

    I have always wanted to try this!

  • Natalia - a side of simple May 18, 2011, 3:13 pm

    I’ve never tried acupuncture before but I’m really into holisitc health. My family and I have been on homeopathic remedies for years and it’s truly amazing the benefits and results we see. I sincerely recommend it for anyone looking for alternative medicine, especially when you want to avoid “drugging up.”

  • Emma (Namaste Everyday) May 18, 2011, 3:23 pm

    thanks for the info! I knew nothing about acupuncture and now I feel like I’ve got most of it figured out. I use that pressure point on your hand to treat my chronic tension headaches, it really does work! I especially like it when someone else does it for you, too.

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul May 18, 2011, 4:13 pm

    Caitlin, I like what you said here: “I think the best healthcare includes BOTH holistic and Western treatments. A time and a place for everything!”

    That’s so true b/c having grown up Korean, my family always relied toooo much on accu and stuff! But, there should be a balance. I’ve tried it many times, along with the black root elixirs and combined with aromatherapy, my nose allergies from ever since I was a baby have been gone since then! It’s been about 7 years now 🙂

  • Macrae May 18, 2011, 4:42 pm

    Very very interesting post! The first pressure point you talked about reminded me of when I was little. My best friend always told me to do that when I had a cold headache(like from eating ice cream too fast). I always thought she was just trying to make me do something silly, but that’s awesome it actually has some validity! She’ll love this 🙂

  • Emma @ Getting There & Going Places May 18, 2011, 5:19 pm

    Yah I love this post! So interesting! 😀
    I’ve never tried accupuncture but I would love to…
    I’ll try to remember those two pressure points and try them out sometime! 😀

  • Bel May 18, 2011, 5:31 pm

    Love this post.

  • Katie K May 18, 2011, 5:46 pm

    I’ve been getting acupuncture for the last 5 months as an addition to fertility drugs. I have really enjoyed the treatments, I am always more relaxed and it certainly has helded with the stress that goes along with infertility. I will absolutly be trying acupuncture in the future if other problems arise.

  • Kelly May 18, 2011, 5:48 pm

    I tried acupuncture a few years ago to try to help my stomach- I have IBS. It didn’t really help but I still loved the whole approach and would definitely go back if I had another issue pop up. I’ve heard a lot about fertility and acupuncture- not trying to be fertile yet but if I ever have trouble I would definitely try it again. Unfortunately my insurance did not cover it so I think maybe if I had given it a bit longer I could’ve helped my stomach a bit more.

  • Tori (Fresh Fruition) May 18, 2011, 5:55 pm

    I’ve never had acupuncture before, but I have a friend that’s recommended it! I really want to try!

  • Clarissa May 18, 2011, 6:05 pm

    Yes! I am currently under the care of an acupuncturist for my untreatable headaches. Even the pressure point on the hand trick doesnt work for these bad ones. I’ve had 3 or 4 sessions now, but she has had me transform my diet as well to get rid of excess phlegm which can cause headaches as well. I had no idea I’d be getting more than needles. My headaches have lessened but haven’t disappeared yet. It’s a process 🙂

  • Jaime May 18, 2011, 6:27 pm

    just want to say that the e-consultation I had with the huz was fantastic! I have been to an acupuncturist in person as well (about 4 years ago) which was also an amazing experience. Once I graduate from grad school (on Friday, yay!) and find a job, I fully intend to make more appts with HTP huz. His consultation was SO thorough and accurate. I wish I lived closer to you guys so I could come into the office! I am a huge fan acupuncture and non-western approaches to medicine in general 🙂

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin May 18, 2011, 6:43 pm

    Thanks for this informative post! Before reading this, I didn’t know anything about acupuncture, but now I’m kind of intrigued. I’m definitely going to try out those pressure point tricks next time I get a headache or feel sick to my stomach! 😀

  • Alexa Hall May 18, 2011, 7:03 pm

    Hey Caitlin!! I’m Alexa and one day last month I happened to check my blog stats to see that on a certain day they had just skyrocketed. Upon further investigation, I saw that you, so sweetly, tweeted that I was your new fave blog and it made me so happy. Then I started reading yours and am so inspired by your story. My dream is to one day write a book. You are just wonderful. I am planning on post-it attacking a lot of local store restrooms, movie theaters and main st. because of you. 😉 I would love to email with ya! Lots of love!!

  • Tracy @ Commit To Fit May 18, 2011, 7:15 pm

    Great post! I have tired acupuncture and like to combine it with massage therapy as a great holistic treatment.

  • Jenn May 18, 2011, 7:53 pm

    Acupuncture gave me my sweet baby boy! After 4 years of failed infertility treatments, this was my last option. I was unsure but had nothing to lose. After a month and a half of acupuncture and taking herbs I was pregnant! I wish I had found this before all the painful and expensive fertility treatments.

  • Lindsay Loves Veggies May 18, 2011, 9:23 pm

    Cool info! My dad did acupuncture to help with with some rheumatic issues and had major success! He even got to stop taking the medications that were starting to have negative side effects for him! Ive never tried it myself, but after seeing his success I would definitely check it out if I had an ailment it could help with.

  • Ali May 18, 2011, 9:51 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while but never commented. This post made me feel compelled to do so. I’m an American who’s been living in S.Korea for the past 4 years. For the past 7-8 years I’ve been plagued with migraines. I was having 4-6 migraines a WEEK! It was a nightmare. At the suggestion of my trainer/friend, I decided to try acupuncture and it’s been amazing. After the sessions, my migraine is completely gone (medicines do not work at all for me). I’ve also noticed a huge difference in the frequency and intensity of the migraines. I love it! I hope I can find a great doctor when I move back to the States next spring. 🙂

  • Lee May 18, 2011, 9:59 pm

    I’ve never tried acupuncture but my mom is a huge fan.

    Have you and your husband ever done a post about vitamins and supplements? I’d love to hear what he recommends.

  • Megan May 18, 2011, 11:11 pm

    I would love to learn more about acupuncture and even give it a try. I also second Lee’s request for a post about vitamins and supplements. Thank you so much for posting this!

  • ashley @ ashley's adventures in alaska May 18, 2011, 11:17 pm

    I would LOVE to try acupuncture, but haven’t yet. It seems like such a great way to treat your ailments instead of meds and nonsense. Soon, I think it’s going to happen.

  • Jolene ( May 18, 2011, 11:48 pm

    I have never tried acupuncture, but I have had massages, gone to infrared saunas, and a naturopathic doctor.

  • Christine @ Burning It Off May 19, 2011, 6:28 am

    The headache one is amazing! I’d heard about it before but turns out I wasn’t doing it long/hard enough so it never worked. But if you do it correctly, it’s very effective.

  • Jennifer May 19, 2011, 7:12 am

    I used to suffer from horrible back pain that started when I was a teenager. My mom took me to countless doctors and specialists and because of some structural issues in my back, they all basically said I would just have to live with it. Nothing like telling a 14 year old that she will be in pain for the rest of her life! My mom and I continued to look for alternatives, and ended up trying acupuncture. I can honestly say it saved me from a life of pain. I felt some relief after the first visit, and virtually no pain after the fourth. Every year or so for the first couple of years I would go in once or twice a year if I felt the pain coming back, but I haven’t had to go in years now. I would highly recommend it to anyone suffering from chronic pain.

  • jenn May 19, 2011, 8:17 am

    I am interested in how this helps improve fertility?

  • Em May 19, 2011, 10:06 am

    Intrestingly, although a recent in depth study of the use of acupuncture in lower back pain cases showed a marked inprovement in the group receiving the genuine acupuncture, the group that received the sham acupuncture recieved a similarly high level of pain relief, suggesting that a lot of the effectiveness is due to a belief that the treatment is going to work manifesting in reduction of physical symptoms (ie. a placebo effect) rather than a genuine physical effect of the treatment.

    “Verum acupuncture was not superior to sham acupuncture, with an observed difference of 3.4% (P = .39). ”

    Full study, statistical analysis and results here:

    I’m not saying that people don’t feel some relief as a result of acupuncture, but that much of it may be psychological manifesting in physiological relief, rather than direct physiological relief.

    • Em May 19, 2011, 10:10 am

      Also, the placebo effect coming into play is not dismissing the treatment. Placebos and psychological treatments for physiological symptoms is often an important method of treatment which can avoid intervention by drugs which can have undesired side effects.

  • Amber K May 19, 2011, 10:59 am

    I have never done it, but I have thought about it. I will consider almost anything if it means feeling better!

  • Brianna May 19, 2011, 11:08 am

    I’m getting acupuncture in a couple weeks before my marathon. I’ve heard it can work wonders! I’ll give anything a try once!

  • Mastering Public Health (@MasPublicHealth) May 19, 2011, 11:58 am

    Thank you for this very helpful and informative post! Especially like the headache tip. 🙂 I have not tried acupuncture though it is offered by many in my area although I have always considered it for some various issues. Thank you, thank you, Caitlin.

  • Joy - HTP Mom May 19, 2011, 12:33 pm

    OH Dr. Kristien, I need your amazing needles….I’m experiencing insomnia and need your special nature treatment. I’ll see you this coming weekend.

  • Kristina @ spabettie May 19, 2011, 12:33 pm

    I love acupuncture! I also use gua sha and cupping with some pretty amazing results! I have been using that point between thumb and finger since I was a kid!! 🙂

    while I see mostly naturopaths, I completely agree that a blend of eastern and western is a great way to go. I always try homeopathy and natural approaches first, and often that is all I need.

    great post Caitlin!

  • ashley May 19, 2011, 2:44 pm

    My boyfriend sees Dr. Henry Han in Santa Barbara who is a very experienced herbalist and does a-m-a-z-i-n-g work. I’ve worked as a nurse in top hospitals all over the country and would only use western medicine as a last resort and hope never to use it!! Western medicines only contributions have been antibiotics and SOME surgeries! Otherwise, it’s just a money-maker. Preventative medicine is found in the Eastern tradition.

  • Cait May 19, 2011, 2:51 pm

    Thanks for this great post! I really hope we’re moving towards a day where there will be more integration of medical modalities (I’m an MD student).

    I want to emphasize the point about being vigilant in checking herbs and supplements for safety. Many unregulated herbs contain high levels of toxic heavy metals, so it’s really important to buy herbs from a reputable source. It’s good to know that your husband checks up on his sources so carefully!

  • Donna Ladisheff May 22, 2011, 10:27 am

    Great blog!

  • Kathy Springer May 22, 2011, 11:05 am

    Accupuncture sounds aweful but I have heard it really works. I might have to give it a try some day. Thanks very interesting article.

  • Becky Coelho May 22, 2011, 1:07 pm

    I have been going to an acupuncturist for 2 1/2 years now. Without him I would not be walking. I have Peripheral Neuropathy and when I went to him the first time he truly thought he could not help me. My legs were black from the knees down and I was walking with a cane. After the first treatment my legs lightened up some and we were both surprised. Within a week, I threw away my cane and could walk much better. My legs are still somewhat discolored, but I am walking much better and have 90% less pain than the day I first went to him. I truly believe in acupuncture.

  • Lisa May 22, 2011, 2:15 pm

    Acupuncture has helped me when western medicine had given up.
    I was referred to acupuncture by western medical professionals. In my area, going to an acupuncturist was out of my budget at $90.00-$150.00 a session. Then I found a community acupuncture clinic. There are a host of issues and concerns that acupuncture can address such as: Allergies, Pain, High Blood Pressure, addictions and more.
    I would highly recommend it. At community acupuncture clinic the fees range from $20.00-$40.00 dollars with a $10.00 fee for the consult and paperwork for the first appointment. To see is a clinic is in your area go to:

  • PAT May 22, 2011, 9:41 pm

    I went reluctantly to an acupuncturist and i only agreed to go because he is also an MD. I was so turned off by needle stories. I had a failed back surgery that left me with occasional pain but a numb left leg that I was ubable to control unless it was bearing my weight.Surgery was in 2004 and January 2011 My numb leg is history after one treatment, more importantly my leg is now under control to put on shoes. I can exercise and i can climb stairs as I used to. At my most recent visit my chronic constipation was cured after again just one session. I was diagnosed at 19 and I am now 67 years young.For two months no Senna or any kind of laxative and regular as clockwork. Thanks to Acupuncture. I just wish medicare would cover it. That would save so much money in the long run. Pat

  • kelly November 9, 2011, 9:34 pm

    LOVE your blog! There’s so much here. I just tried accupuncture for the first time and it was AMAZING. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of this year and have been dealing with a TON of anxiety as a result. The doctors put me on drugs for it, which I’m now trying to come off of. Do you know any accupuncturist in Charlotte that do pro-bono work for breast cancer patients? I can’t afford to go back after just going once. Any help is appreciated!!!


    • CaitlinHTP November 10, 2011, 8:06 am

      Hi Kelly 🙂 Thanks so much. So sorry to hear about your diagnosis. 🙁 I don’t know anyone who does pro bono work but I do know of this community acupuncture business that does work on a sliding scale –

  • Ali December 29, 2011, 11:11 am

    I am almost finished with acupuncture school as well, so it’s’ so exciting to see that your husband is an acupuncturist! I loved this post:)

  • Ellen January 31, 2012, 10:16 am

    Has your clinic had success with acupuncture as a preventative for migraine headaches? Also curious is you have a recommendation for a practitioner in NYC. Thank you.

  • Victoria March 3, 2012, 9:13 pm

    love this info. you provided – I haven’t tried accupuncture yet but atleast now I have a resource to consider! thanks!

  • Nancy April 14, 2012, 6:56 pm

    Is it customary to tip an acupuncturist?

  • Nancy April 14, 2012, 7:12 pm

    Is it customary to tip acupuncturist?

  • Ashley June 28, 2012, 11:22 am

    I have heard some things about acupuncture for stubborn weight loss. Do you have thoughts on this? Or do you know if it really works?!

  • Nicole July 2, 2012, 9:14 pm

    It can help with infertility? I have never heard that. Does it depend on what is causing it? I was diagnosed with pcos and a sperm antibody. I have tried many prescriptions and procedures to try and get pregnant with a second child. Could acupuncture really increase the likely hood of pregnancy?

    • Caitlin July 3, 2012, 8:44 am

      Yup – tons of research on this!

  • Kristin July 14, 2015, 5:05 pm

    Do u tip for acupuncture? I am going in for moxibution to help flip my breech baby (but they are going to burn charcoal instead of the herb?!) will this be as effective?

    • Caitlin July 15, 2015, 6:34 am

      You don’t tip for acupuncture. Moxibustion is very effective but I would also ask them to needle you and be super aggressive with the needles. GOOD LUCK.

  • Pamela Watkins September 30, 2015, 12:53 pm

    Just had my first accupunture…amazing. it really helped with my pain but I am really wiped out! I can’t wait until next week.

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point