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Acupuncture 101: Is it right for you?

Posted: 5:54 AM, Apr 30, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-30 06:07:46-04

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — From infertility to infections, menopause to metabolic disorders, anxiety to asthma, there are many reasons people turn to acupuncture. But can the treatment help what ails you?

If you’re feeling a little under the weather or you’re dealing with a more serious medical condition, you might be considering an integrative approach to healing. Acupuncture is one of those therapies that many experts say can complement conventional medicine.

ANCIENT ROOTS

Acupuncture is an alternative medicine that originated in China about 3,000 years ago. Needles are inserted into the body to improve the flow of chi – what is considered your spiritual energy or life force.

And when you ask people what they think about it, you often get mixed opinions.

“I think it’s great. Honestly, I would definitely do it if I had the time,” said Jenna Huntley – a mom from West Bloomfield.

Angelique Dykes of Westland shakes her head.

“I don’t like needles. So, no acupuncture for me,” she laughed.

WOMEN’S HEALTH...AND MORE

Helping with pregnancy to perimenopause and beyond, acupuncture has become more popular as another treatment option for women’s health.

Amy Werner of West Bloomfield is a believer. The 35-year-old started acupuncture nearly a year ago to help treat infertility. Now, she comes in weekly for 45-minute sessions.

“It’s very helpful with the stress involved with the fertility,” said Werner. “You feel rejuvenated when you leave here.”

“They don’t just treat me for the infertility, they treat me for my whole body,” she added. “I started with headaches when I started a year ago…I don’t have headaches any more. And [the acupuncturist] can help with GI issues and issues around the time with your monthly period.”

Werner said she hasn’t been sick once since starting acupuncture.

NEEDLE PHOBIC? FEAR NOT

The sterilized needles involved in acupuncture are a far cry from needles used in the operating room or for vaccinations.

“I don’t think it hurts, but you know they are little teeny-weeny baby needles,” said acupuncturist Julie Silver.

Silver first turned to acupuncture in her 30s as a patient. She’d get an appointment when she felt rundown or was battling a cold. Originally in social work, she always enjoyed helping people.

So, switching to acupuncture seemed a good fit for a mid-life career change. She’s been an acupuncturist now 19 years. She currently owns the Michigan Associates of Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine in West Bloomfield.

ACUPUNCTURE IN ACTION

“Most people during and after an acupuncture session feel incredibly relaxed. Because if our body were like a balloon, it’s kind of letting the air out. It’s deflating us. And – ahhhhh – like a deep breath,” she said, describing what most patients experience.

She said the needles target any of 12 meridians in the body that help 12 different organs, and each point along the meridian can help release blocked chi.

Silver said common uses for acupuncture include treating everything from pain to perimenopause, allergies to autoimmune disorders, headaches to depression. The list goes on.

Our photojournalist on this story -- Adam Tabor -- said his dad Todd Tabor even quit smoking after getting acupuncture!

“He’d been a smoker for about 40 years. And he tried everything from medicine to patches to gum and nothing really worked. I think his insurance covered it. And he figured I might as well try it. And it worked,” said Tabor.

His father hasn’t smoked since.

And, yes, this reporter has tried it. I did feel just the slightest little pin prick from the sterilized needles as they are tapped into place. But it was not uncomfortable for me. The needles are feather light compared to the larger needles involved in getting a flu shot or having blood drawn, for example.

The main feeling that I experienced when I had a dozen or so needles sticking into me…was relaxation.

But is it the placebo effect? Or true healing?

Julie Silver believes the body has the ability to heal itself from the inside out. She recommends five-to-six visits to see if it helps what’s ailing you because the changes with this treatment tend to be a little subtler.

She emphasized that patients should always work in conjunction with their primary care physician to come up with the best integrative approach to treating your condition.

IS IT COVERED BY INSURANCE?

Silver said acupuncture can be covered by insurance for smoking cessation and other issues, but more often than not it is not covered. Check with your health insurance plan before you make an appointment to see where your policy stands when it comes to this treatment.

Costs can vary depending on the provider.

For Silver’s practice, introductory sessions that last nearly two hours cost $149 with recurring hour-long sessions running $89 each.

SOME OF THE COMMON USES FOR ACUPUNCTURE INCLUDE:
ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER
ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
ALLERGIES
ANXIETY
ASTHMA
AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS
BELLS PALSY
CANCER SUPPORT
COLD AND FLU
DEPRESSION
EARACHES
HEADACHES
IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME
INFECTIONS
INFERTILITY
INFLAMMATORY DISORDERS
MENOPAUSE
MENSTRUATION
METABOLIC DISORDERS
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
NEUROPATHY
PAIN - MUSCULOSKELETAL
PERIMENOPAUSE
PREGNANCY
REFLUX
RELAXATION
SLEEP
SINUS
STRESS RELIEF