I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Traditional Chinese Medicine lately. I have coworkers who regularly use herbal remedies, friends who swear acupuncture helped get them pregnant and I even know a paralyzed French Bulldog who has regular electroacupuncture treatments. (Hi Louie!)
I was curious to see what all the hubbub was about, so I made an appointment for community acupuncture at Two Trees Acupuncture in Plaza Midwood.
Yes, this means receiving acupuncture while sitting in a room full of strangers.
Community acupuncture started in Portland (no surprise there) and the whole point is that it offers a more affordable acupuncture option. Acupuncturists can administer needles to patients while others are resting in the same room, which speeds up the process and allows more people to be treated.
Two Trees offers community acupuncture on a sliding scale from $20 to $45 (much less than their private acupuncture of $75).
Are you like me and never tried acupuncture? Let me back up for a second.
Acupuncture (which has been in practice for thousands of years) works by stimulating certain parts of the brain. Acupuncturists prick the skin with super tiny needles and it’s most commonly used to alleviate pain.
In North Carolina, you need a license to practice acupuncture. My acupuncturist, David, also happens to be certified nationally (#bonus). The most common conditions he sees are back pain, neck pain, digestive issues, fertility issues and migraines.
Okay, back to my appointment.
Every community acupuncture appointment starts with a private intake (so no one hears your embarrassing medical history). David took me into a treatment room and asked me what condition I wanted to work on. I don’t really have any pain, but I do have a nice little anxiety disorder and I grind my teeth at night, so I thought this would be a good place to start. David looked over my medical information and then asked to see my tongue. He told me that my tongue is puffy and pale. I don’t know what that means, but I assume it means I’m dying.
After the intake, David brought me into a room full of zero gravity lounge chairs where people were already laying with needles in their skin.
I laid down and David placed the needles in my arms, legs, feet, ears and neck. I didn’t feel much except for the needle he put in my ear which sent a cool, tingly sensation down the right side of my body.
He then offered me a blanket. I said “no” because I was sweating at the time, but THIS WAS A MISTAKE GET THE BLANKET.
For some reason, acupuncture makes you freezing cold and I regretted this decision as soon as he left. But he did put a scarf over my feet which was weird but nice.
David told me to press the call button if I needed anything and he left me with the other needled strangers.
After about 30 minutes, David returned and removed my needles. It didn’t hurt (except for one needle on my foot that released some serious tension) and I left feeling very refreshed.
The hardest part of the whole experience was trying to sit still for 30 minutes. I even knocked out a needle while trying to take this selfie:
I will definitely try community acupuncture again. It’s super affordable and I think under the right circumstances it can be a very relaxing experience. If you’re into getting needled with strangers, here’s a few tips before you go:
- Wear loose clothing. Everything you wear should be able to be rolled above your knees and elbows.
- Eat a light snack beforehand since the treatment can make you lightheaded.
- Don’t talk. It may be called “community acupuncture” but this is not a time to gab about The Handmaid’s Tale with your neighbor.
- Bring cash or check. There’s an extra 3% charge if you use a card.
- Silence your cell phone. The woman across from me had her alarm go off in the middle of the treatment and she had to do a weird balancing act to find her phone, turn it off and make sure none of her needles fell out. I wasn’t in a very Zen mood since I was so cold, but if I were I’m sure this would have been annoying.
- GET THE BLANKET.