Recently a patient asked me this question, and I thought it was such a good question that I wanted to share my answer with everyone. There are several things that can get in the way of acupuncture being successful.
1. Hydration. Acupuncture needles, when inserted into specific areas of the body, help the body's functions improve. A well hydrated body can help this process a lot. There's a simple formula for figuring out how much water you should have daily. Take your body weight, divide it in half, and that number is the number of ounces of water you should have in a day. For example, for somebody who weighs 160lbs they should consume about 80 ounces of water daily. Be sure not to drink too much water as doing so can tax the kidneys and cause electrolyte imbalances in the body.
2. Distraction. Sometimes patients prefer to listen to their own music through their ear buds while resting during a treatment, which I allow. Occasionally patients request that they watch a video or take a call or text message during their resting time, which I highly suggest not doing. A major component of most of the acupuncture treatments I provide involves re-balancing the autonomic nervous system, which can be hindered by screen time. Plus there are a lot of benefits to being in stillness for periods of time, even if that stillness is uncomfortable.
3. Not Having All Of The Information. Sometimes there are barriers to receiving investigative testing, such as insurance and availability. I totally appreciate the frustration that comes from these barriers. Additionally, sometimes patients are reluctant to go for further testing, either because they're concerned the test itself is harmful or they don't want to go through with the experience or there's a general distrust of Western medicine. I understand where these concerns come from, but even though I do a thorough evaluation at the start of every treatment, many times having that information can make a huge difference in a treatment plan.
4. Sugar. On the days you have acupuncture, I highly suggest limiting your sugar intake. Fruit is okay, but the iced frappuccino or the doughnut or whatever indulgence it may be can cause a spike in blood sugar. Stress alone can cause higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol in the body, both of which can cause blood sugar levels to rise and make it difficult for the body to regulate these levels. Adding sugar to your diet on the day of acupuncture treatment will lessen the benefits.