Yesterday I had a session of acupuncture. It was my third. I wanted to wait until I’d had a few treatments before I started drawing conclusions. So here goes.
It is helping. But not the way I thought. I’m not sure it’s doing anything for my pain. But it is doing a lot for my mind.
If you’ve been reading the blog you know that the worst side effect I experience from methotrexate is depression and mood changes.
The acupuncture helps my mood. After a session I feel less depressed. My mind is clearer, more focussed. I am able to think more clearly.
It is not a miracle cure – I still have some brain fog, and my moods still swing. But it is an improvement. An improvement that makes it definitely worth the purchase price.
I will continue for a few more weeks, and keep reporting my progress. I am starting to become convinced that the methotrexate is helping my pain and inflammation…while slowly destroying my mind! If the acupuncture can help me tolerate the methotrexate, then it’s a huge help. Just not the way I thought it would be!
So what is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a therapy based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. The practitioner inserts and manipulates thin needles into acupuncture points in the skin. Stimulating these points corrects imbalances in the patients qi (“chi”) through channels called “meridians”.
I have purposefully not gone looking for studies proving or disproving acupuncture. I want to keep my mind open to test it for myself.
My acupuncturist is also a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner and a proponent of functional medicine. He is highly trained, knowledgeable and has complete faith that he can get my symptoms under control; if not completely eradicate the inflammation in my body.
As I told him, I am not cynical as such…but cautious. I have been promised many cures. Initially my rheumatologist told me it would be a ‘long road’ maybe as long as two years but he assured me I would be in remission by my 39th birthday. That didn’t happen.
I have since tried a naturopath that took a lot of money from me for a whole bunch of supplements that tasted terrible, and did nothing to help.
I have changed my diet radically. I have always eaten a very clean diet, so this wasn’t a very hard thing for me to do – rarely do I eat processed or takeaway foods. I became a gluten free vegan, and it did make me feel better. But, with two young children and (at the time) a meat loving husband, it was impossible to maintain. So I experimented and found that just being gluten free was key.
Over time, the gluten free either stopped working, or my disease progressed to the point where the benefit was no longer noticeable. So I went back to clean eating. Lots of fruit and veg, lean meats, occasional grains. No processed foods. NO convenience foods.
This is very hard for someone with RA! But I prepare my meals ahead mostly. There is always something in the freezer that I can prepare defrost on my worst flare days. I keep organic soups on hand for when I really can’t cook at all. Then the kids get chicken nuggets and I get organic soup.
I should emphasize that while I was experimenting with diet and natural approaches I remained on my meds! I think that everyone has the right to decide for themselves whether they should take meds or not. Some of them are pretty heavy duty and come with a whole bag of risks and side effects. My choice is to take them. My choice is to also seek other therapies, in addition, that may help.
I am open minded, but cautious. I assess treatments carefully. Results need to be measurable. I have been promised cures before. Some as simple as ‘follow this diet’ which for me is easy to try. Some as repulsive as ‘buy this expensive program/supplement/book and you will be cured.’
So far nothing has helped. I have lined a few charlatans’ pockets. I have paid a few people who genuinely DID think they could help me, but couldn’t.
Acupuncture is certainly helping however. My practitioner has also recommended many supplements and lots of reading. The supplements are expensive. I will need to research each one and see if they interact with my medications. If I think there is any science to back them up. I am not made of money. And I’ll keep you posted!