Chinese Acupuncture

Chinese Traditional Medicine is often looked upon as insane by Westerners. When I first moved to China, I would actually get upset at medical professionals when they told me the medicine or procedure I was looking for would not work, instead recommending tea or acupuncture. Eventually I realized I should heed their advice and visit an acupuncturist. After all, many of Asia’s medical practices have been around for over 5000 years, something pointed out to me almost daily.

I took a trip to the doctor and took off my shoes and socks as instructed. Sam, ironically the name of my Chinese doctor, took out a box of needles and made it a point to show me they were sterile before ripping open the package. He asked me where my pain was and was shocked at how many achy spots I had for my age, then he got to work cleaning some skin and then….

Then he STABBED me with a needle.

Ok, it was more like a quick jab followed by a twist. The twist makes it so that the nerves tighten up. A little twist and there is a little bit of pain, so he twisted until the pain went away.

My stomach churned whilst I watched the needles plunge quickly into my skin, but it was over just as it had begun. When I thought we were finished, he walked away without saying a word. A minute later, Sam returned with a machine unfamiliar to me. He explained it was going to send electrical pulses to the needles, which would make the tissue surrounding the needle jump. Sam continued by saying this would not hurt, but in fact relieve the pain because it allowed the tissue to relax and heal itself. All I could think about was how completely unnatural the needles and electrical stimulation felt to my body.

He turned it on slowly so as not to make the pulse too strong. It felt….weird! He had me lay still for a full 20 minutes before he began removing the needles from my body. When he finished, I couldn’t stand up! My muscles were just that relaxed.

Next, Sam offered to cup me, which clearly required further explanation. The procedure required that he take a glass bowl and place a flame inside it so it ate up all the oxygen. With the oxygen gone, Sam would quickly place the bowl on my back so as to suck the toxins from my body while also increasing blood flow to the area….and giving me some serious circular bruises for a few weeks.

The pain of the cups sucking on my skin was much more than I had anticipated and far stronger than the acupuncture had been but I managed to grin and bared it. Twenty minutes later, I was a free man. I shook Sam’s hand and dashed out of the hospital as quickly as I could.

In time I grew to love acupuncture. Although I still hate the process, it actually makes me feel better. I’ve gone back nine times since that first trip and can’t wait for my next treatment.

IF YOU GO: Acupuncturists in China are like lawyers in America, they’re everywhere! The procedure is affordable for everyone. If you go to China and want to give this a shot be sure to ask around for recommendations. The first time you do something like this you’ll want it to be a bit ‘gentler’ and if you don’t speak the language you’ll either need a translator to help you through it or you’ll need to find an English-speaking doctor.


  1. says

    Sounds like a fun experience, but in all seriousness “does it really work for you?” I’m at the age where I’m starting to feel bodyaches and I fear aging in pain. If acupuncture really does work, I’m tempted to try it.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Sheila! I have to say that it really does work, but the problem is that you have to do a few sessions on the same areas before you will really notice a difference! I’m still not sure what that frequency is.. I’ve heard once a day for three days, and once a week for three weeks.. I guess like each doctor, acupuncturists have different professional opinions!

  2. says

    I’ve never had acupuncture or really been in a situation where I thought I might need it, but it’s very interesting to me. Good that you feel it helps. I know a lot of people who have had very positive experiences. Nice, helpful post!

  3. says

    Acupuncture is amazing, isn’t it? It seems like it wouldn’t do anything.
    I had acupuncture when I contracted Ross River Fever, a mosquito borne disease that causes joint swelling (and a host of other horrible things). I didn’t actually believe the actupuncturist when he said he’d help get rid of the fluid in my joints. But, after each acupuncture session I did ENORMOUS wees, expelling far more fluid than I’d drunk that day. So he was doing something! Amazing.

  4. says

    Wow those glass bowls look like they really hurt. I’ve always wanted to try acupuncture but the thought of needles on my skin makes me really cringe!

  5. says

    @Grace they do… alot. it’s funny, because the food that’s good for you tastes bad, and the food that’s bad for you tastes good. Like this, the treatments that are good for you will always hurt!

    @Christy I’ve heard from several acupuncturists that it’s meant to remove toxins. It’s possible that there is truth to the idea, but since my knowledge of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is quite limited and the idea seems farfetched to Westerners, I’ll trust them anyways because if I didn’t, then I’d be one of those typical skeptics that refuses to try any and all methods of staying healthy! I’d RATHER have needles in my skin than pills that make me angry and tired.

  6. says

    Maybe one day, acupuncture .
    I still believe in the “better life through chemicals” philosophy.
    glad to know there is some truth to the procedure, though, as I am getting more and more into the habit of natural vs. man made.
    Good post.
    John D. Wilson

  7. says

    A friend trained to be an acupuncturist and needed someone to practice on, so I’ve tried it, but mostly for “fun”. Can really pack a good zing, can’t it?

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