Yes, to all you skeptics out there, acupuncture actually does work!
Those of you who don't know what acupuncture is, let me tell you. It is an Eastern alternative treatment for just about everything. Acupuncture is thought to have originated in China as far back as the Stone Age. According to the Chinese theory, acupuncture is a practice of inserting needles along pathways (or meridians) in effort to right the balance of the flow of energy or qi (pronounced chee) in the body. It is their belief that illnesses are the result of unbalanced qi. On the other hand, Westerners believe that the needles stimulate the "nerves, muscles and connective tissue. This stimulation appears to boost the activity of your body's natural painkillers and increase blood flow" (Mayo Clinic).
And what do you say caused me to resort to becoming a human pincushion? Well, I was having vertigo, sinus and ear issues. None of the conventional docs could figure out what was wrong with me (eventually they did but it took two agonizing years). Anyway, if you've ever had vertigo, you know that you will do absolutely anything to get rid of it. It is an extremely unpleasant experience. So, having given up on the ENT and Neurologist, I found a local lady who was certified in acupuncture and decided to give it a try.
My first visit with the acupuncture practitioner consisted of an initial evaluation and explaining the process; it took about 45 minutes. First she listened to me explain my symptoms (and I mean really listened) and took notes. Then she looked at my tongue and took my pulse and asked me some medical history. After the exam, she explained my sessions would be about 30 minutes long and I would need to come about 8 times. I was then shown the chair where I would recline (it looked like a deluxe version of a dental chair). Next, she showed me the needles; they are long and thin but much smaller in diameter than a traditional needle. Finally she gave me a brief overview of qi and where she would be placing my needles.
Each time I came, I reclined in a comfy chair while she inserted about 12 needles in various body parts (my face, hands, and head). Then she turned the lights down, put on some soft oriental music and directed a heat lamp at my face. About 15 minutes later she would return to twist the needles and switch the heat lamp to the other side of my head. After 15 more minutes she would return and remove the needles. After each treatment I felt completely relaxed.
Acupuncture was an answer to my prayer; it worked better than anything else I had tried. While it did not "cure" me, it did reduce the severity of my vertigo. Despite the fact that it was not covered by insurance, it was worth every penny.