Many people can’t think beyond the needles when they hear the word acupuncture. Melissa Cathcart, licensed acupuncturist, explains more about this ancient practice and how it can benefit everyone.
- Acupuncture is good for everyone.
Although nothing is really cured with acupuncture, everything can be treated with it, says Melissa. “We look at the way an individual’s body is responding to whatever’s going on.” Pain, knee problems, and drug and smoking addiction have had the most scientific research done in relation to how acupuncture helps, but it’s also very useful for respiratory and sinus conditions, menstrual and menopausal symptoms and disorders, and headaches.
- The needles shouldn’t hurt you.
“The spiel I give people is you’re going to feel the needles as they go through the skin because that’s where the nerve endings are and once it’s in you shouldn’t feel too much,” says Melissa. The needles are only the width of a cat’s whisker and come in three lengths. The length used depends what part of the body is being treated. Places with less tissue, like hands and ears, use shorter needles, whereas legs or arms are treated with longer needles.
- Why it works is still a bit of a mystery.
Though acupuncturists know where to needle their patients in order to “affect biological or physical changes…nobody really know the mechanisms through which it does that,” explains Melissa. She says the best theory is the needles probably cause microtraumas that initiate a “healing cascade, using the nervous system to communicate with the circulatory system.”
- Community acupuncture is a growing trend.
By providing acupuncture treatments in a group setting, Melissa and other acupuncturists are able to spread out their costs, giving more people the opportunity to receive treatment at regular intervals. At Abundant-Chi, there are seven chairs and one table that can be used for simultaneous treatments. A sliding payment scale means patients can pay what they are able to afford; the group setting acts as a buffer to keep payments low for all patients.
- Treatment plans are flexible.
Acupuncturists work with patterns, says Melissa, and different practitioners will approach the same problem differently. “They’re still getting at the same thing, just (using) a different approach,” she says. Pocacoop.com (People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture) is a great resource for finding acupuncture clinics if you are traveling and want to continue your treatments. How often you receive treatment depends on your pain levels or what issues you are trying to address. Acute pain may call for multiple treatments a week, whereas seasonal allergies might need weekly treatments a month or two prior to allergy season.