Short Story 1: Acupuncture is only effective if you get regular treatments.
According to the legendary philosophical rapper, Sir Confu, Acupuncture works in a series of treatments. One day, Sir Confu went to Acupuncture Nirvana because he had the worst diarrhea known to man. His stomach would rumble, and every morning he would moan about his intestines. When he first got acupuncture, he felt better right after the treatment, but since he only came in once every two weeks, it faded quickly. He asked the wise acupuncturist, “Why, oh why am I still plagued by this horrible diarrhea?” The acupuncturist rapped, “You still feel like crap cause you don’t schedule that often. Do, di do, do de yeah!!!!!!” Sir Confu just stared at the acupuncturist and cracked his knuckles quietly, then held them philosophically. “First, you should stop trying to rap (although I do appreciate your effort young maiden!) And second, if getting needles in me once doesn’t help, how shall more of them help?”
“Ah,” the wise acupuncturist said, “But now it is your turn to be the student! If you get acupuncture today and feel better, but a week later before your next appointment, your symptoms creep back in (so by the time we treat you again we’re at square one), then we went too far between appointments. We’ll be stuck, like a mystical seesaw, with your symptoms improving, then getting worse, then improving, then getting worse. We don’t want this! We want your symptoms to improve, and improve, and improve! So we’ll start off seeing you once a week for the first 8-10 weeks. After that as long as your symptoms are improving and staying at that level of improvement between appointments, we’ll start treating you once every other week. If you are extremely severe, we’ll start seeing you twice a week for 2 weeks, then move to once a week for 8-10 weeks, then start tailoring off to once every other week.
“Ah!” said Sir Confu, “You have spoken a rhythm of words to meet my soul! For now, I truly understand that the art of acupuncture relies on repetition! Without it, my songs are off key, my lines are out of sync, and my rap is like a badger without a cute face.”
The Yield Curve of Acupuncture
Just like when medications are ineffective unless you take the prescribed dose, if you don’t get acupuncture frequently enough—consistently, and within an appropriate time frame—it is unlikely to yield the desired result. Typically, there are three types of people:
About 5-10% are fast responders. That means they may see tremendous improvement after just 1-4 treatments.
About 5-10% of people don’t respond well to acupuncture.
Sometimes people are on 20 medications and have multiple surgeries, and now really need the fast and intense intervention of western allopathic medicine (a hospital). You can still try acupuncture, but if there is little response, it is because it’s like trying to move a cement mountain with a needle.
Most people are the 80-90% in between. The time frames vary as to how well they improve, but they do improve with acupuncture.
Short Story 2: How many treatments do I need?
Once upon a time, there was a very angry goblin names Heat Miser. Now goblins are notoriously angry folk, but Heat Miser took it to an extreme. For example, every Christmas, the goblin boys and girls would run out into the snow, excited about the snowflakes. But since Heat Miser got put in charge of the sunny weather, it never snowed, not ever, except in January. His own sons (see them below) begged and pleaded with their dada to let it snow for Christmas, but he refused. Until his wife made him go into therapy for his rage. And his therapist sent him to an acupuncturist. You see, Heat Miser wasn’t just a mean old goblin. Heat Miser had terrible Liver qi stagnation. That Liver qi stagnation had turned into fire, and fire always rises. It made Heat Miser red in the face. It gave him bloodshot eyes. It made him extra goblinny. Heat Miser wasn’t just spicy, he was ON FIRE with heat. And that could be fixed. But because Heat Miser had been ON FIRE for years, it took time. At first, Heat Miser was in the Acute Stage. That meant his treatments were 2 times per week for around 2-3 weeks. After 3 weeks of acute stage treatments, his wife would let him hold the baby Ninipucket again, and his eyes turned a normal color (even if he did keep threatening to burn down everything!). He had moved into the Corrective Stage. During this stage Heat Miser came only once a week. His face stopped being red all the time. Sometimes it was just pink. His neighbors started saying hello to him again (even if it was from far away and they had to scream it). He actually thought about letting it snow for Christmas. But only once. When he finally told his boys, “oh what the heck, I’ll let it be cold!” they jumped up and down and his wife, Mrs. Fire, ran to him, and gave him such smoldering kisses, that he realized that sunny days weren’t the only fire in his life. He had his family and he had love. He started singing James Brown, and jumping up and down! Which meant Heat Miser had entered the Convalescent Stage. During this stage you come in once every two weeks. Heat Miser decided to rename himself Mr. Hot Stuff at this point. He started to wear studded boots and his wife and he got a babysitter once a week so they could go dancing under the moon. He announced far and wide that he would let it snow every Christmas, because, after all, summer was the best anyway as anyone with a brain knew. Which meant that Mr. Hot Stuff (formerly Heat Miser) had reached the Maintenance or As needed stage. This meant that he didn’t have to come in much for acupuncture. He really only came if he got a sudden desire to burn burn burn during Christmas, or his eyes went bloodshot, or he felt a sudden pain to be baddest of all the goblins again. But most of the time, he was happy as Mr. Hot Stuff. He only needed acupuncture every now and then (okay, maybe this was mostly during December, or at any mention of Santa Claus, but you can’t blame a goblin, can you?).
The Best Situation
Come in regularly to expect the best results. Use acupuncture as one of your tools in the toolbox. And use it the way it’s meant to be used which means regular treatments for real results.