By Mary Lello
Today, Oct. 24, is National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day. No, this is not something that Facebook created but a day with its first commemoration on Oct. 24, 2002. It is now an annual event that is part of an effort designed to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Acupuncturists throughout this state are designing events and writing publications to bring attention and recognition of this amazing medicine we practice into the limelight. There may be free clinics being offered and/or treatments with reduced rates or walk-in and talk to the acupuncturist events. Watch to see what any local acupuncturist might doing in your town.
I promise I’m not going to bore you with a long list of what acupuncture can heal or the 5,000 year old history of it. But I will give you a little bit of my history. I graduated from New England School of Acupuncture, a four year Masters Degree program, in 1998 and opened my private practice in Portland that same year. Back in the late 90s, when I was out socially and got asked the question “what do you do?” my response would elicit an emphatic “WOW!” and then the launch into “could it help my …?” Today when I offer my profession to that age-old question I get a more subdued: “that’s interesting” response. I see this as a good thing, noting that acupuncture is far more accepted and known modality than it was only 20-some years ago.
What has not changed over these years is people wondering how acupuncture might help them. Acupuncture is such a deep healing system it’s sometimes easier to state what acupuncture won’t heal: it won’t heal cancer, but it will help alleviate the symptoms that go along with the therapies attempting to eradicate cancer cells. It won’t heal Lyme disease but, again, it can help with a host of the various symptoms that are now associated with Lyme and have an individual feeling better over all and thus have a better quality of life.
Most people have come to realize that acupuncture can be very effective for pain relief. Currently there is a lot of focus on the opioid crisis with the addictions to them and deaths that have occurred because of them. As this spotlight shines brighter on these addictive medications more people are turning to acupuncture versus prescribed opioids to assist in alleviating their pain. And, yes, acupuncture DOES work and has no side effects. Thus, it’s always worth scheduling a series of sessions and seeing if it will work for you.
One aspect of healing that most people do not immediately associate with acupuncture is the healing of mental and emotional stress and anxiety. Over the last two years I have had a lot more people seeking me out for one or both of these emotions as well as insomnia. Let’s face it, there is a great deal more anger and frustration out there in the world lately and this plays out in our system on the heart level; creating undo stress and anxiety which can lead to sleep deprivation. While in Portland I was one of the acupuncturists who helped start a free veterans clinic in the late ’90’s. This clinic is very successful and continues to run today because the veterans who attend receive fabulous benefits from the acupuncture and all claim that it decrease their PTSD, flashbacks and pain as well as achieving better sleep patterns. These clinics have proved so successful for veterans that the military has begun to train medics on the auricular (ear) points to use in the field to assist combat men and women in from the battle field with their fatigue, insomnia and stress/anxiety.
The proof is in the pudding, as the old saying goes.
So on this day, Oct. 24, Maine Acupuncture Day I write to inform you of the many benefits you might gain from this ancient medicine. The intent is to simply bring awareness to this deep and powerful healing system that is available to you. I encourage you to check out your local acupuncturist and see if it might work for you too!
Mary Lello is a licensed acupuncturist (LAc), has her Masters Degree in acupuncture (MAc) and is a Diplomate of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).