How to approach your acupuncturist

Someone asked about acupuncture in a health group I’m a member of. In the group we all have HIT (histamine intolerance). Susan, one of the group members responded with what I strung together to become this lovely essay. It contains wise words for anyone with any sort of unique health challenge. I know there are many folks who read this blog with unique health challenges. So where it refers to HIT just insert whatever not-so-common health condition you are faced with and heed the wonderful suggestions that Susan makes.

I’d like to add here, given there are a lot of readers of this blog that have psych drug withdrawal issues that some of us find that we cannot tolerate acupuncture at all during acute phases of illness. Multiple sensitivities can also make herbs quite risky. It’s worth being aware of these issues too.

By Susan Tenney

Advice on how to approach your acupuncturist

acuFirst of all, let me say that I ALWAYS agree that you need to trust YOUR reaction. My well-meaning acupuncturist, who is a god send for my family, is great with acute care but over many many months of working with him on my skin issues, which were worsening, I stumbled onto the issue of histamine intolerance and realized that the herbs were probably worsening the condition. For example two products in my remedy were cinnamon and licorice which for the general public would be really fine. But for me they are triggers – low level, so hard to identify, but triggers nonetheless. So… you have to be sure to follow what YOU feel, regardless.

Also, there are MANY levels of expertise out there. People with our condition are NOT the general population so we need experienced practitioners with a seriously deep well of experience AND a creative approach to healing. If they are following the formulas they learned in school, I’ll bet they don’t take you very far.

But with the right person, and by that I do not mean the biggest and best expert but the person with whom YOU feel the best, acupuncture can be a truly transformative remedy. It will not always make you feel perfect – this healing journey of ours DOES include ups and downs. But sessions should steadily bring you toward a better state. If you are seeing regular reactions, you MUST speak with your person about it. Explain that your condition means that you do not respond like the general population and that you need a real fresh approach. Have them ask their colleagues. Have them try new point approaches. If they are the right person for you, they will do their best AND refer you on if they think they cannot help.

Also there are a couple more things. One is going to the origin of your symptoms. If your acupuncturist only treats the symptoms, forget it. Move to someone else. They should be working HARD on getting to the root of your metabolic imbalance. They should be researching how to stabilize you DEEPLY, not just to have the heat released (that is relatively standard operating procedure) but working to feel out WHY you have that deep heat. Again, if they are not creative and adventurous, you might be better with someone else.

And more and more I really deeply believe you MUST work with someone who listens to your emotional work. Who realizes that your emotions can be CAUSED by your condition as they stimulate all sorts of emotional wind up, but then those same emotions, if left unchecked and un-dealt-with can then further aggravate the balance of chi in your body. That doesn’t mean they have to become your therapist. But it does mean that they can listen a bit and understand that your emotional state will seriously drive your healing – up OR down.

Finally, find someone who really understands the depth of complexity of women’s health. I am finding that my male acupuncturist, kind and gentle and as good of a father and husband as he is, just didn’t get the female stuff as deeply as he needed to. I went to my old female acupuncturist, and on the PHONE she cleared up some things he hadn’t caught seeing me 1 or 2 times a week for two years. Not saying it is a gender thing, there are women practitioners who don’t get it and male practitioners who do! But if you feel like they don’t really get it? Keep looking!

All of this says that you have to find a real partner in your healing process. That is not always easy to find. Even if you live in a large city with tons of people to choose from. But if you have the right person, and you FEEL safe and productive with them, then acupuncture can be amazing. Right now, even as a 20 year professional in a related field (I do acupressure, mostly with animals) I realize I need to find a new partner myself.

So I hope that helps.  I know how wonderful acupuncture is, I also know that it is not for everyone. Or perhaps more accurately, it is not for all periods of the healing process and certainly not with just any old practitioner, no matter how nice they are and how sincerely they wish to help. They just may not have the skills to help our like. I feel like I live on the fringe a bit, and that is a good thing! But I do best when I find practitioners who are comfortable there too.

So if you are seeing that reactions are becoming common, take a break! And feel like you can really have a heart to heart with your practitioner. They MUST be your partner, or you have the wrong person. I do not know you well enough to know if you are a fringe-er like me or more mainstream  but our bodies, in any case, are NOT responding in the “common” way. We need practitioners who are excited about that, not ones who scratch their heads and shrug their shoulders.

See also: Medical compliance? Adherence? No. My MDs are my PARTNERS

susan tenneySusan Tenney, CMT works internationally as a practitioner of Five Element acupressure for animals. She teaches classes for animal lovers of all ages and offers an online certification program through her company Elemental Acupressure. Learn more about her courses, books and acupressure charts at and In the process of working with her health issues for the past 20 years, she  has consulted many helpful and competent practitioners of acupuncture. She uses holistic medicine almost exclusively for her family’s health care.

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