At Jade this is a busy time of year, and an inspiring one too. Many people coming through our door have made resolutions to make 2016 healthier and happier. They are tweaking routines, exercising and committing to their health.
An article in The Portland Press Herald, In Winer, Maine Farmers Sow Relief for the Aches and Pains that Grow All Year, has me hoping that this isn’t just a New Year bump, but a bigger trend toward proactive health care. The article, which you can read here: talks about the newest generation of farmers adding in techniques like yoga, physical therapy and acupuncture to help maintain pain-free bodies in spite of the heavy physical toll of their jobs. While many of them initially turned to these treatments after an injury, they’ve continued using them to keep them healthy once they recovered.
This is great news to us at Jade, since we can offer all of these modalities under one roof, and great news to me personally. As an acupuncturist, I treat many patients who turn to this medicine after an injury or illness completely takes them out of commission. While acupuncture can be really helpful in these circumstances, at it’s core it is a proactive medicine. In graduate school a joke that I heard went something like, an acupuncturist used to be fired if their patient got sick. Now, there aren’t hired until then.
Because acupuncture works with your own body’s capacity to heal in general it is a slow medicine. While you can get quick symptom improvement with an acute issues, in general results aren’t instantaneous. It will typically take several treatments, especially in chronic conditions, to see lasting change. While it may take a bit of patience, the effects are lasting and empowering.
For example, you can get quick relief with acupuncture in a flare of congestion, which is really helpful for an acute sinus infection. The needles can help open up your nasal passages and clear phlegm so you can breathe better. What I find even more amazing is that when used consistently it can help build your immunity so that someone who consistently gets sinus infections can break out of that cycle. The most rewarding cases I have treated involve patients that saw the value in continuing treatment after the initial symptoms have gotten a bit better. The intent behind the medicine is to bring your body into balance. For an acute illness that means eliminating symptoms to bring you back to your baseline. But, once healthy, it could mean changing your baseline.
Maybe it is time to think about changing the dialogue around acupuncture and instead of asking ‘what can it treat,’ we start asking, ‘how can it help.’ Why not try it before that injury sidelines you and instead think about how your baseline could be better. Who doesn’t want stronger immunity, better sleep quality, and better digestion? Maybe we can all take a note from the farmers, and be more proactive so that the emphasis is on growth rather than recovery.