After I was diagnosed with scoliosis in 2014, everyone and their mother suggested that I get acupuncture done. Mind you, none of these people had ever done it before themselves, but they still swore that it would relieve my chronic pain and ease my anxiety in general. I accepted their recommendations with a stiff smile, only to roll my eyes privately.
Until very recently, I didn't have much experience with holistic health treatments. The chiropractor was as far as I would get from mainstream modern medicine, and that was good enough for me, thanks very much. Also, I'm deathly scared of needles. But when I kept waking up with a nasty backache every morning, I knew it was time to try something different.
I got in touch with an acupuncturist who came highly recommended and I booked a treatment. Her name was Seven. (No, really, that's her given name; she's part Native American.) I went into my first session with Seven feeling positive, but also sweating profusely because I was so nervous. What happened over the next three months was pretty wild, and a lot more good things happened than I expected.
Here are 11 things that changed after committing myself to acupuncture for three consecutive months.
1. I Had Less Back & Neck Pain
2. My Period Became Regular
One of the first things my acupuncturist, Seven, always asks me at the start every session is when my last period was. It's one of the things I've grown to love about acupuncture — acknowledging that all parts of the body, including the reproductive system, work with each other and inform the state our bodies are in.
On our third appointment, I told her right off the bat that my period was eight days late but that I knew I wasn't pregnant. She told me that she could "needle it out of me." My initial reaction to something that ominous-sounding was No way, girl. But my desperation to menstruate prevailed, so I agreed to having a few extra needles stuck in.
That day, she put two needles in my feet for the first time. One of them hurt like hell upon entry. Then, she placed a couple extra in my lower back, right around the kidneys. The next morning I woke up astounded — my period had appeared in full force.
3. I Slept More Soundly
4. I Needed Less Coffee
5. I Sat Cross-Legged Less Often
6. My Neck Grew Longer
7. My Anxiety Was Significantly Reduced
My most anxious time of the day arrives between 4-6 p.m., and it usually makes me crawl behind my couch for a self-induced timeout. However, the longer I stuck with acupuncture, the less and less that mean anxiety monster came to harass me. It didn't hurt that I left each session super duper Zen. Luckily, that feeling stayed with me for many hours afterward.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies showed that just a 20-minute acupuncture session eased anxiety and increased memory strength in participants compared to subjects who received no treatment at all. The needles are meant to get your Qi flowing, which slows down the production of stress hormones.
8. I Drank More Water Throughout The Day
It all started because I left my first session dying for a bottle of water. I ended up drinking an extra liter of H2O that day, which, trust me, never happens. This habit continued for the entire three months as I turned into an acupuncture junkie.
Seven told me it's pretty standard for people to become more conscious of what they're putting in their bodies when they engage in holistic treatments. They tend to make better choices in their diet and pay attention to what their bodies are truly in need of.
9. I Was More Flexible In Yoga
I felt like I had a new body in my hot yoga classes. My thoracic spine was feeling especially open and bendy, and I could explore postures in ways I never thought possible. Because those small needles can get in between tight muscles in ways that a massage therapist's hands never could, I was experiencing flexibility in the most unexpected of places. Subsequently, I was stretching deeper into the poses, and this granted me even more relief than the acupuncture treatments alone.
10. My "Tickle Tension" Spots Vanished
11. I Became More Aware Of Physical Pain & Discomfort
Images: Marnie Joyce/Flickr; Gina Florio (3); Giphy (11)