By Deborah Rothman

As Americans, we didn’t grow up with the thought process that the insertion of tiny fine needles along our bodies can actually heal us. From a young age we are taught that if we’re not feeling well, we go to our primary care physician for a prescription. Often, parents of young children, and especially elderly patients, men and women alike, actually feel cheated if they took the time to make an appointment and leave without a prescription for medication. It is a universal understanding that one looks for a medicine for immediate relief of their symptoms and ailments. Many people actually dread hearing the doctor say it’s a virus and will pass on its own. This can leave the patient feeling disappointed.

We live in a fast-paced environment. Things are constantly changing and evolving minute to minute. We need to keep up with it to feel our best, and we have come to expect rapid solutions, especially when our health isn’t at its optimum.

Acupuncture and alternative treatments work differently. We treat the symptoms while simultaneously getting to the root of what is causing the illness. In an acute situation, the patient can feel immediate improvement. However, in a chronic or debilitating condition it takes time. We are asking the body to make big changes by healing itself. The side effects of acupuncture are beneficial in building one’s immunity, relieving stress, and eradicating the pain. I often find myself educating my patients. Some individuals are impatient while waiting to see improvement even when they have been suffering for 20–30 years. Others are more understanding and willing to dedicate the time and enjoy the process. In my past articles I have explained that acupuncture builds on itself. Therefore, it is the cumulative effects of the treatment that will achieve a lasting healing and beneficial outcome. Giving up after just a few visits, before the cumulative effects of the treatments have set in, is truly a shame.

When patients come in with acute conditions, they make me look and feel really smart. In just a few treatments their symptoms are alleviated and they go about their business. However, many of my patients have come to seek out acupuncture as a last resort. They have tried everything else and since nothing has worked, they figure they may as well give it a try. In these scenarios, educating the patient in terms of realistic expectations is important. It usually takes a series of treatments for the individual to begin to feel improvement. Progress may be slow and steady. Other times it may seem as though besides feeling more relaxed, there isn’t much of a change or benefit with the treatments. Sticking with it is important. Time and time again, when my patients listen and follow the guidelines, they are happy with the long-term outcome. It is unrealistic to expect a chronic or debilitating illness to completely turn around in just a few weeks.

As we embark on a new year, it is a good time for us to evaluate our personal health goals. Let’s picture where we would like to see ourselves down the road, and plan long-term wellness intervention for the future. Self-care is essential for optimal health. Acupuncture along with proper diet and exercise can help achieve wellness and maintain quality of life, as well as mitigate how our body responds to external stressful situations. The feeling of taking our health into our own hands can be incredibly gratifying and rewarding. Waiting for illness to set in and not doing anything preemptive is misguided. We can study other cultures and easily see how preemptive care rewards us with a healthier and longer lifespan.

Many people today are working in sedentary jobs. Failing to exercise and neglecting to eat wholesome, nutritious food to support our immune system is a recipe for disaster. Instead, getting acupuncture treatments to boost our immune system and working to mitigate stress levels as much as possible can have lasting benefits. We need to be focused on the big picture. Providing oneself with the optimal in healthcare is our goal. Supporting our immune system on a continuing basis is essential.

There are some simple things you can do on your own to enhance your stamina. Make sure to get enough hours of sleep and avoid going to sleep too late. Eat wholesome, natural, and unprocessed foods, and avoid skipping meals. Drinking an abundance of water is essential. It is beneficial to avoid drinking sodas and drinks with sugar and artificial sweeteners which may actually increase your sugar cravings. Exercise whenever possible, even if you only have time for a 20-minute brisk walk. Most importantly, realize that life has its stressful moments, which may be difficult to avoid. However, acupuncture can help with mind–body connection and come to the rescue!

Deborah Rothman is a licensed acupuncturist and a Diplomate of Acupuncture with a private practice in Woodmere. Comments and questions are welcome. She can be reached at 516-203-4500 or Deborah@AcuZen.com. Please visit AcuZen.com and follow Acu‑Zen on Facebook.

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