Organic Antidotes

There few things I despise more in life than needing medication to feel better.

Truly. I don’t believe that there’s ANYTHING good in pharmaceuticals. Just because something seems to help.. Well, it’s probably just masking your symptoms with something horrendously bad for your body.

I don’t even like to take over-the-counter pain pills like Advil – mainly because they never seem to actually work, but also because it’s a drug and a foreign entity to the body.

I get that there are some things that we need medication for. Certain infections, for example, require antibiotics. I totally get that! And I strongly suggest medication for those types of health issues [because, honestly, to my knowledge, there really isn’t anything else that will make an infection go away].

A few months ago I started getting migraines. For the first time in my life! Now, as far as migraines go, I’m pretty positive that they are mild compared to what some of my friends have struggled through. I definitely haven’t seen spots, or been bedridden, or felt nauseous [some people actually get sick!]. No, mine have been relatively manageable. But they’re bad enough that the pain is distracting and keeps me from concentrating on work and keeps me from being able to work out.

Since I’ve never gotten migraines before, I found it odd that they came on so suddenly almost the moment I turned 29. So I delved a little bit in to my memory bank and tried to pinpoint what exactly may have triggered them.

After wracking my brain, I finally attributed the migraines to stress. Which, funnily enough, I haven’t been managing well at all the last several months. Imagine that.

I relayed my symptoms to a girlfriend of mine who had been having similar symptoms a year or so before. “Oh, just take a Xanax. That always calms my mind down.” I was so freaked out by the thought of taking it that I immediately nixed the idea without even a consideration. There had to be another way.

And that’s when I stumbled across the idea of acupuncture.

It actually just so happened that my boyfriend had started going to a masseuse shortly before I decided I couldn’t handle the stress or migraines anymore. We were lying in bed one Saturday morning, and he was in so much back and hip pain [he’s a chef so he stands for 12-15 hours every day] that he could barely get out of bed. I told him he needed a massage, and he said, “I need something that isn’t just a regular massage.” So I Yelped it, found a place, and booked him an appointment for that Monday.

Post massage, he had almost no more back pain, and had already booked an appointment for the next month to have his masseuse work on his hips. I went to check out the place online to see if maybe I should get a massage there, and that’s when I saw that they also offered acupuncture. And when I saw that they treat headaches, stress and anxiety, I knew I had to try it.

I had no expectations going into my first appointment. I know people that have had acupuncture [my boss, my best friend, my dad], but nobody can really tell you what to expect. Looking back, it’s probably best that I didn’t know what I was getting into. I had no reason to have any fear [although, I did have a little – my entire life I’ve had a horrendous fear of needles (I was 18 when I finally got my ears pierced)]. I did have excitement, but that was in the hope that acupuncture would help relieve my stress and headaches.

One of the things that I liked about my acupuncturist prior to meeting her was that, not only did she have an education in Chinese Healing [more specifically, acupuncture], but she also earned a business degree from UCSB. For me, that was a solidification in my mind that she actually knew what she was doing [oddly enough, because I don’t have a degree myself].

When I arrived at my appointment, I had to fill out a first time client questionnaire and health history survey [pretty standard for any doctor’s office]. Once completed, we sat down for a consultation – she asked me questions more specifically regarding what I had marked on my survey, and also inquired as to what may have triggered the migraines and stress [lifestyle, events, etc.]. She suggested cutting out caffeine, as that may be contributing to the anxiety and the headaches.

Once the consultation was over, it was time for the treatment. I got settled on my back on a table similar to that of a massage table, comfortably adorned with a soft “mattress” and pillow, and a prop to go underneath my knees. She wiped down several parts of my body with a cleanser, and then she began inserting the needles. She warned that there may be a quick pressure but that after the initial pin prick, I should feel no pain. Once she had completed with the needles, we did a breathing exercise to help relax me, and then she turned a heat lamp on over my feet, dimmed the lights, said, “I’ll see you in 25 minutes,” and left me be.

I honestly don’t know how to describe the feeling your body gets during acupuncture. I know that it’s different for everyone – some are more sensitive to it than others. For me, I became so relaxed that I felt like my body was melting off of the table. I found that I was unable to lift my legs [nor did I want to]. I had zero control over my body and my limbs. I could actually feel my blood shifting and moving inside my body; I could feel the pressure of stress being moved upwards through my body and out at my head. Odd, yes, but even more so, relieving.

Before I knew it, the 25 minutes were up. She gently plucked the needles out of my body, scheduled me to come back a week later, and sent me on my way.

Three weeks later, and my stress and headaches are still at bay. I did as she suggested and cut out caffeine, which, much to my surprise, has helped me to feel so much better! I no longer get energy crashes in the afternoon, I don’t find myself getting overly worked up at stupid things – I’m sure some of that is coffee-related, but I like to believe a lot of it has to do with my body getting its balance back.

I know acupuncture may not be for everyone, but if you have ailments and haven’t tried it yet, I HIGHLY suggest that you do. I can truly say that it has helped me and has changed my health for the better.

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