BEFORE YOUR TREATMENT
KNOW YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY - Be aware of your past medical history; time spent recalling can take away from valuable minutes on the treatment table. Make sure to share any major life incidents as well as current symptoms, so that your practitioner has a complete picture of your health.
MEDICATIONS & SUPPLEMENTS - It's vital that your practitioner has this information, especially with regards to pharmaceuticals. Sharing this information is important to avoid possible bad reactions to the use of Acupuncture or Herbal Medicine. Quick Tip: Take pictures with your phone of each medication/supplement you are currently taking to show your practitioner.
WEAR LOOSE/COMFORTABLE CLOTHS - Tight clothing not only can be uncomfortable during treatment, but more importantly can obstruct the flow/circulation we are trying to induce in Acupuncture and other therapies. Some acupuncture points can be difficult to reach on their own, adding tight clothes can take away from the flow of treatment, making it even more difficult to reach these points.
AVOID TAKING STIMULANTS - Restrain or limit stimulant intake such as coffee/caffiene, alcohol, cigarettes etc before treatment. Stimulants like this can skew the overall presentation of your constitution, but also will make it more difficult for you to settle into the treatment.
NO TONGUE BRUSHING/SCRAPPING - In Traditional Chinese Medicine tongues are observed and looked at as one of our diagnostic tools. We look at the body, shape, coat and any other features we observe. Brushing / Scrapping your tongue before treatment removes a part of the picture we use to diagnose.
EAT BEFORE YOU TREAT - Coming to an Acupuncture treatment on an empty stomach can result in nausea, lightheadedness, and in extreme cases fainting (i.e. in a hypoglycemic patient). Avoid this by having a small meal or snack before treatment - Try not to over eat as this can have a similar effect and take away from your treatment.
ARRIVE 15MIN EARLY - Simple but overlooked, arriving 10-15 minutes early (especially for initial clients) ensures that any paper work or checking in doesn't take away from your treatment time. Also your practitioner will love it when you're patients on time!
AFTER YOUR TREATMENT
PLAN ON RELAXING - Commit to doing nothing, or at least limiting activity after your treatment. Instead plan on relaxing on your own; preferably in a horizontal position as you'll likely welcome the idea of laying on a bed or couch for some much needed 'you time'.
AVOID SCATTERING THE MIND - Avoid things and activities that can take away from the stillness and relaxation of your treatment. Use this time in stillness to exercise your power over things like technology, cell phones, tablets and strenuous mental work.
LIGHT EXERCISE ONLY - Acupuncture and other manual therapies can leave the body it's tendons, ligaments, muscles looser and more limber. Doing strenuous exercise or lifting heavy weights can lead to injury as your range of motion is more open than before; you risk over extension in joints as well as harming ligaments. Exercise should be light - things like tai chi, qi gong or yin yoga are more appropriate at this time.
AVOID TAKING STIMULANTS - Restrain or limit stimulant intake such as coffee/caffiene, alcohol, cigarettes etc before treatment. Stimulants like this can make it more difficult for you to settle into the effects treatment.
EAT A NOURISHING MEAL - Use this post treatment meal as an opportunity to continue the healing. Acupuncture helps move qi/blood/circulation and detoxify, don't undo that work with a hard to process meal (i.e. greasy, fried, fatty, mucous forming food).
OTHER TIPS FOR TCM PATIENTS
ASK PRACTITIONER DIET/LIFESTYLE ADVICE - A Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner is a cornicopia of not only treatment knowledge but prevention. Practitioners may sometimes hold back from overwhelming clients with lifestyle advice, (1) because they know lifestyle changes can be difficult to achieve, and (2) because patient compliance, or how much advice the patient is able to incorporate in their lives, is extremely variable. Asking your practitioner for lifestyle tips will cue them, and show that you are ready to take the next steps towards your health/wellbeing.
GET REGULAR TREATMENTS - Whatever the ailment is you can assume that you will need some consistency and a reasonable frequency of treatments. This is especially true of chronic conditions; generally speaking the more long standing an issue is the more treatments will be required. Talk to your practitioner about a treatment plan, so you can get a general idea of what the road to recovery looks like (i.e. how many treatments, frequency, lifestyle/diet changes etc).
CREATE A SELF CARE JOURNAL - Use a journal to be more aware of your experiences and feelings; with regards to getting treatments journals can help you evaluate what has and hasn't worked for you. Try using numeric scales where applicable i.e. Pain in shoulder in May was 9/10, June 6/10.