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I received acupuncture for the first time about two years ago. I was always curious, but skeptical. I also felt like it took some research on my part – I didn’t want just anyone messing with my chi (I’ll get back to that in a moment). Honestly, I also REALLY didn’t want someone sticking needles in me who didn’t know what the heck they were doing. Here’s a little Acupuncture 101.

What is Acupuncture?

I think we all know it deals with needles, but the basic definition from the Mayo Clinic describes acupuncture through traditional Chinese medicine as a technique for balancing the flow of energy (Chi or Qi). Chi is believed to flow through pathways in your body (meridians). Western practitioners may view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue to increase blood flow and boost your body’s natural pain killers. Yes, I did discuss acupuncture with my primary care physician and he is completely supportive of it as an effective addition to my healthcare maintenance.

Chi

It wasn’t until I really got into massage and saw its benefits that I really started to look at other forms of “alternative” medicine. When treating an issue I prefer to combine Western and Eastern approaches. Western medicine has produced amazing research, cures, and benefits (my husband received a liver transplant and is cancer free due to Western medicine). However I think it’s beneficial to look at what came before it and remind ourselves of the energy we possess and the healing powers of our body and mind.

Back to my chi. Take from this what you will: When I touch a lot of people, sometimes it makes me really tired. Not in a physical pain kind of tired (although I get that too), but more in a “wow, they dumped all their energy into me,” kind of tired. The hands and feet can transfer a lot of energy both ways and especially when I work long, multi-day events in corporate environments, I feel weighed down by other people’s junk. That’s when I first looked into acupuncture. I felt like I was filled (FILLED) with other people’s junk and I wanted it to go away.

Acupuncturists

Acupuncturists are like massage therapists: it’s such a personal experience that you really need to be patient to find the right one for you. The first acupuncturist I saw was lovely. She specializes in treating infertility, which was not my coal, but I trusted her so I gave her a shot. I felt AMAZING after that first session. I went back about a month later, again feeling full of junk, and after that session I felt AWFUL. I felt like the energy blockage just moved somewhere else. It was not good. I’m not accusing the practitioner of doing anything wrong, but it just didn’t happen for me. Since she actually has a niche business, I decided it was best for me to find another practitioner. Then I found Julie. I’m so genuinely fond of Julie. We clicked and communicate effortlessly. Her treatments are thoughtful, thorough and she has great follow up (haha, as I’m writing this she just texted me to schedule my next session!). In combination with the rest of my healthcare regimen (yes, it includes regular massages) I’ve been feeling really great. Check out Julie’s website at Optium Health Acupuncture. She’s conveniently located in Hollywood, on Ocean Drive between the Diplomat Hotel and Hallendale Beach Boulevard.

When searching for an acupuncturist, please keep the following in mind:

  1. Are they licensed? You can look up any practitioner on the Florida Board of Acupuncture to see their license status. Side note: you should make sure your massage therapists are licensed too!
  2. Are they trained to practice Oriental Medicine? In Florida an Acupuncturist must complete a four year program in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (as of 2001 – prior to that the requirements were less). There are no requirements for medical doctors or osteopaths to practice acupuncture; chiropractors may practice with 100 hours training. Here is a list of requirements by state: www.Acupuncture.com.
  3. Ask for referrals from people you trust. They aren’t always iron clad, but I’ve found that people will talk about (or blog about, heehee) people they like.

The Needles

Ohhh, the needles. I don’t have a fear of needles per se. What I really don’t care for is blood. To be more specific, blood coming out of ME. So when I get my blood drawn, I learned to simply look away. Easy peasy. But some people have a very strong aversion to needles. I wish I could help you. Julie works with people who are afraid of needles by starting out with the tuning forks and magnets. You just have to trust me on this – they are really cool. Anyway, there are ways, so talk to the acupuncturist and try not to dismiss it just because of the needles. I won’t lie, there are a few places that give a little pinch when they are inserted, but the discomfort doesn’t last. Most I don’t feel at all. Being in a relaxing environment helps – nice music, aromatherapy, warm table, bolsters under your head an knees, heat lamp on your belly… Thank you Julie!

Insurance

Check with your insurance. Some cover acupuncture and some, but not many (sadly) still cover massage therapy.

Acupuncture and Massage

Each therapy accesses the body at a different level. Using both together enhances the effectiveness of each, resulting in a more complete health treatment. They are truly complementary modalities, providing a large range of benefits for body and mind.