Health | Wellness | Yoga | Chicago

The Low Down on Acupuncture and Cupping Therapy

I am always looking for new ways to improve my quality of life. Things like changing my diet, practicing yoga, meditating, and taking supplements have greatly helped my body and my happiness, however, after learning about acupuncture and cupping therapy, I knew I had to try. The power of Chinese medicine has not failed to amaze me. By just placing a couple needles throughout different points on my body,  I have seen real-time and long term changes. As far as cupping therapy goes, I have also seen amazing physical and mental changes in my physical being. Just a reminder that this is solely based on personal experience and you should consult with your own practitioner before taking advice about when and where to get acupuncture, and about what to do before and after treatment.

 

Acupuncture

What is it?

Acupuncture is a holistic health technique stemming from Traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves sticking very thin needles into the skin to stimulate specific points throughout the body.

 

How can it help me?

Acupuncture can be used to treat any and more than the symptoms below:

  • Mood disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.)
  • Stress
  • Muscle spasms
  • Joint pain and chronic pain
  • Allergies
  • Digestive problems
  • Migraines
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia

 

Personal Experience:

Personally, I use acupuncture to treat anxiety, stress, digestive issues and chronic pain. Everytime I step out of the room after acupuncture, I feel like a new person. It truly boosts my mood and really helps to subside my anxiety whether it’s about a certain subject or a constant anxiety. There was one time when I went in and really needed to focus on my digestion. During the session while I was sitting with the needles, I literally felt my insides and bowels moving. There was another time when I went and wanted to focus on severe neck pain. My practitioner inserted the needles at specific point and told me to life my neck. The pain in my neck was truly gone and my head felt extremely light to pick up and comfortable. I truly believe in the power of stimulating acupoints throughout the body, and it’s definitely worth a shot if you have a health problem you want to address.

 

What should I do before my appointment?

Make sure to drink a lot of water throughout the day. Acupuncture can have dehydrating effects on the body and it is important to stay hydrated in order to avoid symptoms such as headache or fatigue. Also be sure to eat something before you go, and try to make it a healthy, balanced meal. Support your body and help it get ready for the procedure!

 

Does it hurt?

I don’t think “hurt” is an accurate way to describe how it feels. Keep in mind that I do have a high pain tolerance, but I truly don’t think it hurts. When the needles are actually going in, it feels similar to a mosquito bite. You can definitely feel a tiny sensation, but nowhere near a bee sting. This also depends on where the needles are being placed. I have felt a small amount of pain before when needles have been put in my fingers and ears, but it goes away very shortly after the needles is put in. Keep in mind that you can always tell your practitioner to stop or take one out. Especially if it’s your first time, they will be gentle.

While the needles are sitting in, the only thing similar to “pain” I have felt is a sort of heaviness. It’s very hard to explain, but it can almost feel like a sort of energy is traveling through your body. Similar to a very subtle aching. Whenever I feel this sensation, I know that it is working. I also recommend remaining very still while the needles are in. I have tried to point and flex my feet before and felt shooting pain, so I do not suggest moving.

 

How does the procedure go? 

This is from my personal experience only, but when I go, my practitioner asks me how I’m feeling and what I would like to address. This conversation can last anywhere from five to ten minutes. I think it’s very important for them to listen to you and really gain a holistic perspective of your body including diet, lifestyle, stressors, exercise, sleep, digestion, etc. Then I usually get anywhere from eight to fifteen inserted in my body and lay with the needles in for anywhere from 30-55 minutes. I like to close my eyes and focus on my breath and really just let go and relax. When you are done, the needles will be removed and you’ll be good to go!

 

The community acupuncture room at Five Point Holistic Health

 

Where should I go?

I have only had experiences at two different places. I have been to Aligned Modern Health and Five Point Holistic Health. My experience with Aligned modern health wasn’t great. I felt like the practitioner I went to was not very well versed in alternative medicine and didn’t care much about things like my diet and lifestyle and how that may be affecting my body.

I absolutely love Five Point Holistic Health in Logan Square. Everyone there is so welcoming and kind and they really care about your health and making your better. They also offer other services such as herbal consultations, cupping therapy, body work massage, and psychotherapy. For my acupuncture I see Joslyn and she is wonderful. She is extremely knowledgeable in all things holistic medicine including eating for your blood type and fertility.

 

What should I do after my appointment?

Directly after my appointments I usually feel extremely relieved, calm, and content. I have been known to skip out the door because I am so happy and refreshed! However, usually about 15 minutes after I get out, I start to feel tired and dehydrated. It’s okay to feel this way, it is my body telling me that it’s doing work to better my health. As long as I eat a big balanced meal and drink plenty of water afterwards, I feel totally fine! IT is recommended to take it easy after getting acupuncture and not consume alcohol in order for the effects of the acupuncture to sink in. But it’s your body and you should listen to how you are personally feeling. There have been times where I have gone home and taken a yoga class that night, or gone home and taken a long nap. Again, listen to your body and give it some love.

 

How often should I go?

It is recommended to go to acupuncture at least once a week in order to reap the benefits. Some months, I go every week, and others I can’t find the time for that. My goal is to go to community acupuncture once a week and a private acupuncture session once a month.

 

How much is it?

Community acupuncture at Five Point Holistic Health means that you sit in a room with others and receive your treatment in a chair in a community setting. Sometimes, there’s not anyone else even in the room and I have never had more than two others in the spacious room with me. It’s $30 for a community acupuncture session which I think is a great deal for students especially and makes it accessible for me to go almost every week. Ditch your morning coffee for a week and try a session! The private sessions are $75 each. You get the private consultation with your practitioner, and these private sessions often times include cupping therapy and herbal consultations, or whatever other treatments your practitioner things is best for your body. It really is worth it if you are trying to help or fix a health problem you have. You then get to lay in a room by yourself while the needles are in and it is one of the most relaxing experiences I have had.

 

Cupping Therapy

What is it?

You may be familiar with cupping therapy from Michael Phelps having purple marks all over his back at the Olympics. It is a form of ancient Chinese medicine that involves placing glass or silicone cups on parts of the body to create a suction for your skin. There are several forms of cupping therapy. Some practices involves fire, or there are forms of wet cupping. The cupping that I have received have been with glass cups that use a rubber seal to create a vacuum effect. I have also had silicone cups on my back which can be moved around for more of a massage effect.

 

How can it help me?

Cupping can be used to treat the following symptoms and conditions:

  • Muscle soreness and pain
  • Tightness
  • Flu and cold like symptoms
  • Inflammation
  • Stress
  • Skin conditions
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive problems

Personal Experience:

I have always struggled with extremely tight shoulders and neck pain from both working out and stress. Originally I used cupping to help loosen my back and relieve pain. It works absolute wonders for me and after each session, I find I feel so much looser in my neck and back and I feel much more relaxed. Cupping has a detox effect and has also helped me recover from sickness and I attribute it to helping my anxiety as well.

 

Photo taken my Allyson Manzella

What should I do before my appointment?

I would say follow the same advice as above, but I would like to stress the importance of drinking even more water before and after cupping.

Does it hurt?

When people ask me this I tell them it “hurts” the same way a deep tissue massage does. In my opinion, “it hurts so good.” I have experiences some moments where it was pretty painful, but as long as you remember to breathe, it feels absolutely amazing after the cups are released. I my opinion, the more it hurts, the tighter you are and the more you really need it!

 

How does the procedure go?

I have only gotten cupping in the same session as my acupuncture sessions At Five Point Holistic Health. Usually, the cupping is done first. After talking with my practitioner, I lay flat on my stomach with my clothes off and a sheet covering my bottom half. She starts by giving me a short oil massage and then begins placing the cups on. I would say she puts on no more than 4-6 cups on at a time, and then after a couple of minutes she releases them and puts them on different parts of my body. After the cupping is over, I flip over and receive my acupuncture treatment.

 

Photo taken by Allyson Manzella

 

What should I do after my appointment?

Again, I would say follow the same advice as the acupuncture suggestions. It is also important to keep your marks and your back completely covered for at least 24 hours after you received cupping. After a cupping treatment your pores are completely open which means you are more vulnerable to sickness.

 

How often should I go?

I usually shoot for getting cupping once a month. Going more often would definitely be beneficial, but finances permit me to have a private session once a month. You also have to wait until your marks disappear completely before getting another cupping treatment.

 

How long does it take for the marks to go away?

It depends on the body. Usually mine are pretty faded by the 6th day, but they can take as long as ten days for mine to go away completely. The darkness of your marks may be darker or lighter than me. The darker the marks are, the tighter the area was and the more you “needed it.” For example, if I went every single week, I am sure my back would start to loosen up more drastically and the marks would slowly get lighter after each visit I went to. Since I only go once a month, my back is always in pain when I show up for my appointment, which means I really need the cupping which is why the marks are so dark!

 

Photo of my cupping marks the day that I received treatment

How much is it?

At Five Point Holistic Health, a cupping session by itself is $50, but I think the better deal is to get both cupping and acupuncture in a private acupuncture session for $75.

 

**Questions? Send me a DM on Instagram! If you end up going to Five Point Holistic Health or Aligned Modern Health, tell them Samantha Conrad referred you!**

 



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