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Feeling worse after acupuncture treatment


I am seeing an acupuncturist primarily for infertility (4 years), but secondarily for anxiety and depression I have experienced off and on for many years. I have seen two different acupuncturists, the first for about a year. I stopped going to him because I found that after every treatment I was feeling worse - more anxious and more angry - than when I went in, and when I communicated this to him it didn't seem to be significant to him. After several months of this I decided it best to take a break.

I have recently started seeing a new acupuncturist - for about six weeks now. I have had this same experience after two treatments, to much stronger levels. After one, I was so hot I dunked my feet in a bucket of ice water and sat with a cloth on my head to keep me from feeling like I was burning up. I also have felt so overwhelmed and anxious I was practically trembling. Once the feeling of extra energy was in the lower part of my body. This time, it's in my chest, arms, and especially hands. I could go on about how awful I feel.

Anyway, I am writing because I don't have much context to know if I'm working with a good practitioner. My instinct - based on all I know and what I experience - is that she is a wonderful practitioner. Her bedside manner is wonderful and she seems very attentive to the things I say. But I keep having these negative experiences and it makes me second guess my experience.

First off, is it abnormal to have such strong increase in negative symptoms after treatments? Second, should I trust my instincts regarding my practitioner and see this process through? How long should it take before I notice a lessening of these negative symptoms after treatments?

Oh - as an aside, both practitioners diagnosed me with liver stagnation and spleen issues (I'm not sure what, exactly), as well as blood deficiency and some blood stasis. I am currently taking 10 rambling powder pills (that have something extra added for heat) as well as 8 salvia 10 (although when I called her today about the heat and anxiety she told me to stop taking the salvia 10). I am also taking reishi drops.

I would appreciate any general insight you have to offer.


The real answer to your question is are you better? 4 years seems like an awfully long time to need treatment for these very treatable conditions. It's easy to like your practitioner and even feel good with acupuncture (you are not even getting that), but ultimately why you are going is results - that is, to actually be better. Fertility generally speaking should never take longer than 3 months to a 2 years at the absolute most in the rarest of cases - most people should be pregnant within 3-7 months. Anxiety and depression should be similar. You should feel considerably better within 3 months and continuously better after that for as long as desire to obtain treatment. After 6 months to a year of treatment you should not really "need" to go for treatment, but should be in more of a maintenance phase balancing only mild up and down turns. Now there are always rare and difficult cases but this is a general timeframe based on my experience and that of my colleagues.

With regards to the sensations after treatment, people have all kinds of sensations but if they some of the stronger sensations they should cease after the first few treatments and only last a day or two at most. If they are continuously happening you are more than likely being overtreated. (This is, of course, hard to say not knowing your case specifically or your practitioners choice of points, etc.). Too strong of treatments (either point choices, needling technique, or other techniques) will often lead to negative reactions like this. If you are improving considerably you can -sometimes- over look these. If these sensations continue and you are not improving considerably, then the treatment is not helpful for you. Acupuncture is an enjoyable beneficial treatment and isn't something you should ever feel you have to push through...

You could try acupuncture from a different style, perhaps Japanese Acupuncture, which uses lighter techniques and may offer better results for people with more sensitive systems. Either way, if you are not considerably improving I would find another practitioner.

Incidentally, this is no way a judgment on your current practitioner - every practitioner has people they cannot treat, even the good ones. Sometimes this is due to their style, just the time and place, whatever. It doesn't mean they are bad or good necessarily, just that what they are doing at this place in time is not what you need. Sometimes people don't need acupuncture at all, but respond better to energy healing (like Tong Ren Therapy, Medical Qi Gong, Reiki, etc.). Then, later, their system is able to better handle the changes that acupuncture is requesting. I'm not recommending that you wander from practitioner to practitioner, but your path should be guided by clinical results (feeling better), not just the hope of feeling better or a trust in the process...


Thank you very much!

I saw my first practitioner several years ago for about 9 months. I stopped because the anxiety feeling was worsening, but also because it was a financial strain. However, several months after stopping I did get pregnant but miscarried. I didn't associate the acupuncture with the pregnancy until recently when I was explaining my history with infertility and acupuncture. But in retrospect, I think we were on a good track, at least for the issues with fertility.

I just started seeing my new practitioner. There was a 2-year gap between when I stopped with my first and when I started with my second. I hope we can get this hot/stirred up/anxiety issue under control because I really like her and enjoy my actual treatments.


I thought I'd post an update. After several additional treatments - some smooth and others with a very strong reaction - my practitioner and I talked in more depth about some things that had recently come to the surface for me. After she listened, she said she needed to investigate a little more but that she felt I may be experiencing a less common problem - where yin and yang do not engender each other. If I'm understanding it correctly, it means they're staying separate and aren't interacting with one another in the way they're supposed to. She has started treating me with this root in mind, and although I still sometimes feel "stirred up" I instinctively feel we are on the right track. There are changes, specifically a groundedness/anchoring sensation that seem to be necessary and healing. Thank you so much for the feedback you provided.


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