Brave the needles, it's worth every prick.
I have never been a fan of needles; in fact I’ve spent most of my life avoiding them at all costs. Which is why acupuncture was never something I could see myself having. But, after a bought of bad health and a few particularly anxious months, I found myself sitting opposite Mike Wong, Acupuncturist at Neal’s Yard, venting about my life.
Like everyone else, I was overly stressed and I couldn’t switch off. As a result I had been struggling with near constant anxiety and panic attacks, and my neck, shoulders and back were a mess. Meditation and boxing had helped slightly, but the low level anxiety was still there and I was in pain sitting at my desk all day, everyday. A friend of mine had told me how acupuncture had helped her, so after some research I booked myself in.
After asking me a few general questions about my lifestyle and how I felt physically and mentally, Mike took my pulse and then, weirdly, asked me to stick out my tongue. He told me that my pulse was weak, indicating high levels of stress (no shock there) and poor circulation. Stranger still, my tongue showed that I was apparently holding onto some repressed anger. Who knew? Now onto the needles. The first question you’re probably thinking is does it hurt? In all honesty, no.
At certain points, particularly the ones in my legs, it felt quite sharp, but it’s not painful. Once all of the needles are in, your acupuncturist will adjust them. This feels like increasing pressure at each point, which is a strange feeling, but you can tell them to stop if it becomes too intense. I left my first session feeling relaxed and mentally clearer, but very tired.
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That night I slept like a baby and awoke feeling somewhat better than I did before, but I was skeptical about how long it would last, and after two days the pain in my back started to return. But, after seeing improvement I knew I had to go back, so I called up and booked another for the following week.
Four sessions later and I have made it through more than a month without feeling even remotely anxious. It quite literally feels like an entire weight has been removed from shoulders, no feeling of impeding dread, no panic, my chronic lower back pain has near completely gone. To put it frankly, acupuncture has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, do I still get stressed? Of course, but I feel better prepared against it when it comes.
A quick intro to Chinese medicine…
- The principles of acupuncture and Chinese medicine are to restore the body and mind to a state of balance.
- Energy flows through our body, this is known as Qi (pronounced chee).
- When these energy channels become blocked or disrupted it manifests as illness and pain.
- Inserting needles into specific points unblocks these channels, increases the blood flow and stimulates our bodies natural healing response.
What Else Does It Treat? It can help with a range of problems such as chronic pain, depression, migraines, insomnia and infertility.
How Many Sessions Will I Need? It varies, some people report relief after the first session, others notice an improvement after 1-3 sessions, but it can take several weekly treatments to help more complicated or chronic conditions.
How Much Does It Cost? You can expect to pay between £50-80 per session, treatment packs are usually offered at a reduced price.
Where To Go? Mike Wong a Neal’s Yard in Marylebone, £75 a session