Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to gently and effectively treat a wide range of conditions. It works through many mechanisms, such as boosting the release of endorphins (natural painkillers), reducing cortisol (stress hormones), stimulating the immune system, and sending messages through the electrically conductive network of myofascial tissue—and modern scientists continue to discover more as research studies become more sophisticated. The simplest way to understand it is that acupuncture shifts your nervous system from sympathetic mode (“fight or flight”) to parasympathetic (“rest and digest”), which allows the body to go into repair mode.
Acupuncture benefits a wide range of chronic conditions, including allergies, anxiety, autoimmune diseases, back pain, Bell's palsy, digestive issues, emotional disorders, frozen shoulder, infertility, insomnia, menstrual difficulties, migraines, nausea, neuropathy, polycystic ovarian disease, PTSD, stroke recovery, urinary issues, and overall pain and stress relief. There’s even an acupuncture point that can turn a breech baby! In 2003 a report by the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health recognized acupuncture’s effectiveness for an extensive list of musculoskeletal, neurological, gastrointestinal, respiratory, gynecological, and psychological conditions, and acupuncture is increasingly being embraced by policymakers as an important tool in solving the opioid crisis.
Individual responses vary; sometimes people feel mild sensations of tingling, warmth, or heaviness for a minute, but after the slight pinprick from the very fine needle, most people settle into deep relaxation (some even fall asleep). My style is very gentle and your comfort is a priority.
Acupuncture is very safe. The needles are sterile, single-use, disposable stainless steel that are about as thin as a human hair. Occasional bruising is the most common possible side effect.
It’s convenient if you can wear loose clothing that’s easily rolled up to reach arm and leg points. I may use the color of your tongue as a diagnostic tool, so if you remember, avoid coffee and other drinks and foods that might stain your tongue immediately before the appointment.
Acupuncture’s effects build cumulatively. Though each case is different, a general guideline is that the longer you’ve had an imbalance, the more treatments it may take to restore full health. Sometimes there’s a dramatic improvement after one treatment, but just as you wouldn’t do only one physical therapy session or take only one antibiotic pill, only one acupuncture session may not be enough to cure you (though it can feel like magic!). I usually recommend 4–6 treatments for milder conditions and at least 8–10 treatments for longstanding chronic conditions. For any menstrual or fertility issues, usually it’s best to receive treatment through at least three menstrual cycles to restore balance to your system. I’ll work with you along the way to evaluate your progress and adjust treatments as necessary.
Using a jade gua sha tool specially designed to glide smoothly over the curves of the face, I massage the face and neck to relax muscle tension, drain lymph fluid, reduce puffiness, boost blood circulation, contour the jawline and cheekbones, minimize wrinkles, and apply acupressure. Besides feeling deeply relaxing and rejuvenating, facial gua sha can provide relief from headaches and TMJ (jaw pain) and improve recovery from Bell’s palsy/facial paralysis. To make the experience extra luxurious, I incorporate many gemstones—including skin-nourishing pearl powder, the cooling jade gua sha tool, and a soothing rose quartz facial roller—and finish the treatment with a restorative crystal and sound meditation. If you’re interested, I’ll give you tips afterward on how to create a mini gua sha self-care routine at home.
The pure sound vibrations from tuning forks, singing bowls, and other instruments immediately calm the nervous system. When a vibrating tuning fork is held to the body, it stimulates the release of nitric oxide, a natural blood vessel dilator. Acutonics uses different sound vibrations on various acupuncture points to bring the energetic body and mind back into balance. Feeling the sound vibrations ripple through you is a truly relaxing experience, and people who are afraid of needles can benefit from acupuncture point stimulation with tuning forks instead.
Cupping uses suction to pull up the tissues, helping release muscle tension, loosen myofascial adhesions, drain lymph and cellular byproducts like lactic acid, and bring fresh blood flow to the area. It’s also useful to loosen lung congestion. You’ll see high-performance athletes such as Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps with cupping marks because it’s great at improving recovery time. The marks fade within a few days (the darker the marks, the more cellular byproducts needed to be released). Cupping can feel similar to a massage, with some potential soreness as muscle tension is released. If you’d like to make a statement with your cupping marks, I have a set of heart-shaped cups too.
Breathwork is a simple two-part breathing technique that powerfully releases old stuck emotions. The body holds on to traumatic experiences and feelings that haven’t been expressed, manifesting as tension, anxiety, pain, and other health conditions. In a breathwork session, I’ll coach you to breathe through whatever comes up, keeping you grounded through the laughter and tears as energetic blockages are released, supporting the process with music/sound therapy and essential oils. Afterward it’s common to feel euphoric, energized, and emotionally lighter.
I do not accept insurance but offer package options to make treatments an affordable investment in your health. If you would like to try to get reimbursement from your own insurance company, depending on the condition and treatment, I may be able to provide a superbill.
I accept checks or Paypal: paypal.me/AnnieMcDonnellLAc