The 'Side Effects' of Acupuncture

I just finished reading a terrific blog post by AcuBlogger Sara Calabro. Her post entitled “The 5 Most Common ‘Side Effects’ of Acupuncture” is a delightful look at some of the unintended effects of acupuncture treatment. The post, which you can read here, lists five extremely common ‘side effects’ of acupuncture: better sleep, more energy, mental clarity, better digestion, and less stress. It’s true, we see these side effects in our clinic all the time!

While the post is a little tongue in cheek, the message it delivers is real and important. Acupuncture is a holistic therapy; it treats the whole person. So many of our patients are dead focused on one goal: a happy, healthy baby. So while we zero in on BBT temperatures and menstrual cycles and pregnancy tests, it’s easy to forget all the small improvements we experience along the way. Improvements in sleep, energy level, digestion, and stress management are more than just happy side effects. These are the indicators of overall health, indicators that your body is beginning to heal, indicators that you’re getting closer to your goal!

Before the human body can undertake the task of producing a whole new person, it must have sufficient resources to function and repair itself. Sleep is our body’s main time for repair and restoration, and is also important for proper hormone function. If sleep is impaired, we miss this vital chance to heal and grow stronger. Digestion is where we harness our raw materials. Breaking down our food efficiently, and transporting the raw nutrients to the body systems that need them is fundamental to our ability to function, grow, change, adapt, and produce new life. The way we respond to stress is also integral to health. Our stress response system has been fine-tuned to keep us alive, but it does so at the cost of keeping us fertile. When we are under constant stress, the body is preparing for crisis, not conception. Effortless adaptation to stress ensures our body’s ability to change and thrive and prepare for pregnancy.

Sometimes patients will ask “How do I know if the acupuncture is working?”. I ask them to tune into their bodies. To check in on how they are really feeling. Has your sleep improved? Do you have enough energy to get through your day? Are you feeling less stressed out, even when you’re busy? Are you still feeling bloated after meals? How is that heartburn doing? These seemingly small changes let us know that we’re on the right path, that progress is being made, and that your goal, though it may seem distant, is getting closer all the time.