My First Time (Acupuncture at exhale)

Now you know about Part 1 and Part 2 of My Hip Injury. While physical therapy seems to be helping (the swelling went down! finally!) and cortisone took the pain away (at least for now), who am I to turn down something I have always wanted to try when it was offered to me — acupuncture.

From their website:

Exhale incorporates the 5,000-year-old system of healing known as acupuncture and oriental medicine into its everyday environment. Both safe and effective, acupuncture excels at integrating the body, mind and spirit to promote health and balance. Throughout its history, this complete system of healing has addressed the medical needs of large parts of the world’s population. The focus of this medicine has always been the prevention of disease by establishing and maintaining the balance and harmony of all aspects of the individual’s health.

At exhale, all of our acupuncture practitioners are master healers, achieving the highest level of training and exceeding national standards for the profession. All are Nationally Board Certified by the NCCAOM (California State boards) and are State licensed health care providers. They hold a Masters of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. More than that, each acupuncturist at exhale was hand-selected for their unique healing skills. They bring to exhale the deepest level of empathy, compassion, and care combined with skill and knowledge.

I went to exhale spa for my appointment last week and met my acupuncturist, Jordana Allen. I actually heard about Jordana before this visit because one of my Core Fusion teachers told me that there is an acupuncturist who also has a torn labrum. How ironic coincidental (a little pet peeve of mine, kids — learn it).

After changing into a comfy robe and lounging with a warm neck pillow, Jordana took me into a massage room and instructed me to sit in a chair so we could talk. I actually expected to hop right onto the table and get right down to business, but now I realize how important this initial evaluation is.

When Jordana asked me why I was there, I told her about my hip.

Then she asked to see my tongue for her . . . tongue diagnosis? Clearly I did not do my research beforehand because I would have learned that this is an important part of any acupuncture evaluation. According to Sacred Lotus, “the tongue has many relationships and connections in the body, both to the meridians and the internal organs. It is therefore very useful and important during inspection for confirming TCM diagnosis. It can present strong visual indicators of a person’s overall harmony or disharmony.”

Tongue Diagnosis

[Source: Sacred Lotus]

Apparently my tongue did not reveal the fact that I am always freezing, although many external factors can influence how my tongue looks on any given day, so it is not 100% accurate. Also, Jordana explained that tongue diagnosis can change from session to session and every acupuncturist will have a different opinion of you and your diagnosis.

Jordana asked me if I have any other issues she should know about, and I didn’t really think of anything until she gave anxiety as one of her examples. I’ve actually battled anxiety for many years. She said that the acupuncture treatment would help with this problem.

Then, as an afterthought, I casually mentioned that I suffer from a chronic gastrointestinal illness.

I could tell by Jordana’s face that I probably should have disclosed this sooner. I honestly thought I was there only for my hip! And while I had considered acupuncture for my GI illness in the past, I never did go through with it due to the inordinate amount of money I spend weekly on other treatments.

“We will work on your stomach too,” Jordana told me after I gave her the details of my problems. WOW. I did not expect this. Wow. Wow. How did I get this lucky?

As I lay on the heated table with a heat lamp over me (I could have done just that and been happy with my hour!), Jordana told me she saw a tinge of blue in my stomach channel along my legs. She said this is not normal, and that it indicates cold.

Stomach Channel

[Source: ITM Online]

She also revealed that my tongue showed some stagnation in my stomach (meaning things are not moving). That reminded me of the time I was getting a pedicure and during the foot massage, the woman was pressing on this one point on my foot that felt strange. She asked me if it hurt and I said yes and she jumped up and came back with a big book. She opened to a page about the colon and pointed to that, and then pointed to my foot, explaining as best she can with our language barrier that the foot issue indicated colon problems.

Obviously I was shocked that the pedicure was so completely on the mark. She could have said that strange sensation on my foot meant anything, but she got it exactly right.

And so I went to this acupuncture appointment aware that my body reveals the underlying issues I have.

Discovery Health explains the two thoughts on how acupuncture works by explaining:

Approximately 2,000 different acupuncture points lie along the body’s meridians. The idea behind acupuncture is that stimulating these points with acupuncture needles or pressure relieves obstructions in the flow of energy, enabling the body to heal.

In the Western view, acupuncture likely works by stimulating the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals called neurotransmitters and hormones. These chemicals dull pain, boost the immune system and regulate various body functions.

Jordana put about nine needles in different parts of my body to target my hip and my stomach (I say stomach as a general term to mean my overall digestive issues). One needle went in the top of my head.

Let’s talk needles. I was not at all afraid of them going into this session. From everything I’ve heard about acupuncture, you do not feel the needles at all and they don’t hurt. Before the session, Jordana showed me a needle, and flinged the sharp part to show me how light and bendable it is.  Because of this, I had no apprehension whatsoever about the needles.

But you know what? Yes, they’re small but they are still NEEDLES. They are still sharp and you do feel them. Each one pinched as it went in. While they were in they didn’t hurt, but I could certainly feel that they were there. They’re needles! And after the session, when Jordana pulled them out, I felt the little sting again.

It wasn’t pain and it wasn’t bad. But come on.  Let’s call a spade a spade.

Acupuncture needles

[Source: Discovery Health: How Stuff Works]

Once Jordana had the needles in place and made sure I felt no discomfort, she asked me if I wanted a foot massage.

Um, does Santana love tummy rubs?

YES of course I wanted a foot massage!

In addition to being an acupuncturist, Jordana is also a licensed massage therapist. The foot massage was the most amazing added benefit and really took my experience from great to incredible. I want to go back just for more foot massage. Mmmmmmm….

The entire time, we chatted. Those who know me know I can be uncomfortable and awkward with new people, unless vodka and tequila are involved. But Jordana made me feel completely at ease, and she was so knowledgeable and sweet. Also, SHE LOVES CORE FUSION! Yes, it was a match made in exhale heaven. The only thing I love more than extolling the virtues of Core Fusion with anyone who will listen is chatting all about them with someone who understands!

It was especially helpful to tell her I felt the pain get worse during the pretzel because she knew exactly what I meant when I said pretzel, a Core Fusion exercise.  Going to acupuncture in the same place I work out is a huge plus.

I did want to mention that I found an old email I wrote to a friend in September, a month before my hip hurt during Core Fusion, about a 10 mile training run I did. For 5 of those miles, my hip was bothering me. So it turns out the problem was getting bad before I even realized when I wrote my Hip Injury posts.

As we discussed my stomach problems, Jordana advises against eating fiber, which I already know is my #1 enemy. I haven’t eaten salad in years and I miss it every day. However, she gave me some advice I hadn’t heard before: avoid cold foods, like ice cream. She also suggested I put a heating pad on my stomach and lower back every day. So this visit was beneficial for more than just the needles.

According to Jordana, the benefits of acupuncture vary, and the effectiveness varies also. It depends on what the condition is and how long it has been going on. She always suggests that acupuncture be done at least once a week because each treatment builds on the last one, and you get better results that way.

Because I already had a cortisone injection and haven’t exactly been in hip pain, it might be difficult to know the effects of the acupuncture. It would have been a lot more cut-and-dry if I didn’t have the steroid injection, was in pain, went to acupuncturist and then could tell you all “the pain is gone!” or “ugh I still feel pain.” Instead, I am just going for overall healing and long-term health. As for my stomach, I should be able to tell you about any overall improvements by the end of these sessions.

I will write a full review of my entire acupuncture experience at the end of these four sessions. Given that it will be over a month after my first visit, I will be able to describe my entire experience along with any results. I actually noticed some improvements since this session but because it could be chance, I will wait to go into detail until the end of these sessions. I will also determine at that time if I want to continue with acupuncture treatments.

Have you ever tried acupuncture? How many times did you go? Did you feel or see any improvements?

I received this acupuncture treatment (the first of four) from exhale spa at no charge. While I am obligated to write a review, the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

16 thoughts on “My First Time (Acupuncture at exhale)

  1. This is fascinating and I am so glad you are sharing with us! I love this holistic approach to overall well being – that she is focusing on all of your issues and not just the one thing that brought you there. I am ooking forward to seeing how the rest of your treatments go.

  2. WOW! I am SO intrigued by this! My friend (who ran the half with me) is studying to become an acupuncturist and it’s totally luring me into it…that and your experience with it. I had NO idea how interconnected everything is in our bodies, how crazy. I’m so glad you are getting some help though – that is SO great. Go Exhale Spa!! :-)
    Jess´s last blog post ..Word of the week- surrender

  3. This is very different from my acupuncture experience. The lady I went to did none of these things. I think she was a quack. I never felt any relief and I probably went to her about ten times. I should look into this at Exhale Boston. Thanks!

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  5. New to your blog and love your honesty. I used to be a CF/exhale junkie but switched addictions to yoga. Look forward to reading about your acupuncture journey. Reflexology is something I have a lot of experience with and really believe it. Hope your hip is improving.

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  7. My first time went pretty well that’s why I became a fan of acupuncture after my first treatment. Though I must admit that I was too afraid of the needles but then to my surprised I didn’t feel it when they’re being inserted in my pores.

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