Acupuncture-A Two-Session Review

I'd never tried acupuncture. I'm not afraid of needles but had never willingly put them in my body. But as part of this journey of self-care, my plan is to explore multiple avenues with the desired result of all-encompassing wellness and relaxation. Sounds simple right? And I figured it would be fun to challenge myself with trying something new.

Here's some quick info about acupuncture from the UC San Diego, Center for Integrative Medicine:

Acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old healing technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 1997, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) documented and publicized acupuncture’s safety and efficacy for treating a wide range of conditions. Acupuncture is now covered by many insurance policies and is used most broadly to relieve pain.
Acupuncture improves the body’s functions and promotes the natural self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites--commonly referred to as acupuncture points, or acupoints. The most common method used to stimulate acupoints is the insertion of fine, sterile needles into the skin. 
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on an ancient philosophy that describes the universe, and the body, in terms of two opposing forces: yin and yang. When these forces are in balance, the body is healthy. Energy, called "qi" (pronounced "chee") flows along specific pathways, called meridians, throughout the body. This constant flow of energy keeps the yin and yang forces balanced. However, if the flow of energy gets blocked, like water getting stuck behind a dam, the disruption can lead to pain, lack of function, or illness. Acupuncture therapy can release blocked qi in the body and stimulate function, evoking the body’s natural healing response through various physiological systems. Modern research has demonstrated acupuncture’s effects on the nervous system, endocrine and immune systems, cardiovascular system, and digestive system. By stimulating the body’s various systems, acupuncture can help to resolve pain, and improve sleep, digestive function, and sense of well-being.

I was recommended to Providence Community Acupuncture (PCA) by several people and decided to check it out. Their hours are very accommodating (Mon.-Fri. 9a.m. to 7p.m.,Sat. 9a.m. to 1p.m. Sun. 9a.m. to 5p.m.) so I was able to get in quickly. Their vibe is chill, the waiting room has items for sale from local vendors, such as herbal supplements and lotions, and a large community acupuncture board from across the US. Lots to look at while you wait, which I love. I could peruse bulletin boards forever looking for the perfect thing. The check-in process is easy and the front desk attendant was very nice. 

My acupuncturist, Korben, discussed my health history and goals for acupuncture. I told him that I had chronic neck and back pain from sitting as part of my job and was looking to improve a general sense of relaxation. The treatment room is community style, and there are several ( probably 8 or 9) lounge armchairs. The treatment provider sets up your needles, covers you with a blanket if desired, and you sit for about a half hour/45 minutes. There is dim lighting, nice artwork, and relaxing music. 

As usual, I found it hard to relax. I had, for some reason, scheduled my first session in the middle of a work day so my mind was wandering. I focused on keeping my breathing steady and my body relaxed, which was nice. It was nice to have the time to just be with myself. The needles didn't hurt but it was an odd sensation, hard to describe. Almost buzzy. I left feeling relaxed but kind of unsure about the needle aspect. Maybe I do have some sort of dormant needle phobia?? 

Then...I had a second session about a week later. I was able to settle into meditation mode fairly quickly but then, all of a sudden, it was like I was jolted awake and became instantly nauseous and flushed. I was a split second away from tearing the needles out of my body but didn't want to make a scene. I took some deep breaths and got through it in a moment or so but it was such an intense rush like I'd never felt before. I eventually settled back down into a deep relaxed state and was almost groggy when Korben woke me up after about 45 minutes. And a little bit out of it for the rest of the day actually. 


  • I really enjoyed the community vibe and overall decor and feel of PCA. Everyone was super friendly and made me feel completely at ease.
  • I noticed obvious signs of the staff maintaining their materials and everything seemed very sanitary. This was good for the slight germophobe side of me! 
  • They have a good, user-friendly website with online-scheduling-a must for busy people!
  • Ok, but my physiological reaction to my second treatment left me a tiny bit scared, to be honest. I haven't gone back yet. I have been very busy but I don't know if that is an excuse or not! Part of me thinks I just need to face whatever it is, maybe some channel of energy was opened quickly and it just felt intense. Not sure, but until I do some more reading and research I think I may take a break for a bit.
  • My acupuncturist did say that the best results are when a client is coming in a few times a week. So when I do decide to try again, I will make a better effort to schedule several appointments for a few weeks and be mindful of this commitment to my health. It will be the Acupuncture Challenge. #threeweekacupuncturechallenge     Maybe in June?? 
  • THE COST IS AMAZING! PCA's mission is to make acupuncture an affordable part of health care so they offer a sliding fee of $15-35 per person (and a one time new client $10 fee). Pay what you can. I think of it like a copay, as one would pay at any doctor or other health care office. 


Has anyone else ever had that flushed, nauseous, almost ready to freak-out feeling with acupuncture??

Comments please:)

Marisa Etting