By Erika, Pure Matters

Getting poked with needles from head to toe hardly sounds relaxing and therapeutic. But six weeks before my wedding I broke my toe and was driven to find a faster way to heal, mainly so I could walk down the aisle without a giant orthopedic boot. A friend referred me to a community acupuncture center, a more affordable approach to acupuncture conducted in a group setting. My mother had been touting the benefits of this Eastern practice for years but I’d resisted, writing it off as one of her wacky remedies.

After my first few acupuncture treatments, I was hooked. I would enter the clinic feeling stressed and tired from limping around DC in August’s humidity and I’d leave feeling relaxed and pain-free. Not only did the treatment seem to help my toe heal quickly, it also helped decrease my stress level, lower my anxiety, and made a noticeable difference with my asthma. My acupuncturist, Suzzanne, is one of the most caring, kind people I know, plus she has a great sense of humor -- a huge perk in my book.

The idea behind community acupuncture is to make acupuncture available to everyone. Most community acupuncture clinics charge on a sliding scale, so the patient pays what they can afford for each visit. The clinic I go to has a large treatment room containing about six comfortable reclining chairs. Patients update their acupuncturist on any recent issues, then lay back in the chair and the needles go in (no, it doesn’t hurt! the needles are tiny). While the needles work their magic, the patient takes a nap or just relaxes. I consider it the best excuse to take a quick afternoon nap.

My toe healed enough for me to upgrade to flats for the big day but that didn’t stop my weekly acupuncture trips. I’ve been getting regular treatments for almost two years now. I’ve suffered from anxiety and panic attacks at various times in my life and both are now at an all-time low. I look forward to my appointments each week, especially to the feeling I have as I walk out the clinic door, relaxed and peaceful.

Have you tried acupuncture? It can help everything from migraines to neck and shoulder aches, fertility issues, insomnia, circulatory disorders, gastrointestinal issues, stress and anxiety, and more. I’d love to hear about your experience with acupuncture!