Like most professions, not all acupuncturists are created equal. I can tell you from my clinical and personal experience, finding the right physician is key to getting the help you need.
Adding to this, being vegan makes almost health care professionals either confused or defensive or clueless or all of the above. So as a vegan acupuncturist and nutritionist, I’d love to give you some tips.
What exactly is acupuncture? Acupuncture is the placement of disposable, hair-thin needles into specific points along energy channels on the body. Qi (your body’s energy) flows within these meridians or pathways. Stimulating qi flow balances a person to relieve symptoms and eliminate an illness. Its origins are from China and date back at least 5,000 years. The oldest known text on Chinese medicine is over 2,500 years old.
Acupuncture can help with pretty much any physical and emotional condition you can think of, including: poor digestion, skin issues, addiction, weight loss, pain management, HIV/AIDS, cancer, stress, insomnia, autism, allergies, colds and flus, and autoimmune disorders. I could go on.
One reason I want to be a voice for my profession is that people are scared to try it. Needles?!? No way! Or they think it’s impossible to do Chinese medicine vegan style. Moby recently asked me how I was able to keep my practice vegan. It can be done!
* What to expect. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are incredibly powerful and healing. The improvements I see in my clinic are quite impressive. But be prepared that it isn’t always a quick fix. Acupuncture gets to the root cause of a problem, not just the symptoms. I have seen people see 80% improvement after just a session or two, but this doesn’t always happen. Getting rid of the problem, so your symptoms don’t come back or manifest in some other way are ideal and can take some time. So be patient!
* Just like the rest of the world, most acupuncturists aren’t vegan or even vegan friendly. So, make sure you find someone who will be supportive of your lifestyle. It’s also important that they understand what veganism means and how important it is to you, because many prescribe animal products in their herbal formulas with out telling their patients. I’ve treated at least 30 vegans/vegetarians who showed me what they were prescribed by another acupuncturist. Products like gelatin or donkey hide glue (yes, you read correctly) were in them. Since the herbs are in Latin or Chinese pinyin (names spelled with our alphabet), how could anyone know who isn’t trained?
* Ask friends and coworkers who they go to. This is the best possible resource. You might have similar health issues and they got help from their acupuncturist. Safe bet that they will be able to help you, too. If no one in your circle has tried it, check out Yelp for someone who has at least fifteen 5 start reviews.
* Someone who is knowledgeable about your condition. Since there are so many different body parts and things that can go wrong, your acupuncturist might have heard of your ailment, but doesn’t have a lot of experience with it. They might still be able to help you, of course. But first hand knowledge and experience can only up your chances of healing.
*Experience. Someone who has been at it for a while will most likely be. Freshly out of school doesn’t mean they aren’t any good. Far from it. It’s just that hands on experience can only make you better. I can see my 12 years in private practice greatly improved my skills as a doctor.
* Someone with good bedside manner. This really ties in with being vegan friendly. I’m sure everyone reading this can relate- “You don’t eat meat? That’s why your sick. Eat it or you won’t get better.” Also, when you’re feeling crappy, you want someone who is going to listen and hear you out. I recently had a new patient who has been dealing with cancer for 5 years say after her first treatment “Thanks for being nice to me.” I almost started to cry. Her dozens of doctors over the years weren’t mean. They just treated her like a statistic. No reassuring words or even a smile.
I hope this helps you on your journey to wellness. For those of you who haven’t tried it, it’s pretty easy. These hair thin needles don’t hurt once there inserted. In fact, most people fall asleep during a treatment. For those of you who tried and didn’t find the right fit, please try again.
Live natural. Live well.