How to Prepare for Your Acupuncture Treatment & Get the Best Results

Whether you’ve been getting acupuncture regularly for years, or you’re just starting out, it’s helpful to keep in mind some tips for how to get the most out of your treatment. Acupuncture has an amazing capacity to destress and ground you, as well as to tackle more deep-seated illness, but it’s important  that you set yourself up to be able to reap these rewards fully. Eating a heavy meal right before, going for an alcohol-fueled night on the town the night before your treatment, skipping meals before your session—all of this could make you less responsive to acupuncture’s healing properties and could even be potentially unsafe. So follow the advice below to make sure you’re getting the best results from your treatment.

Make sure to have something in your belly: You don’t want to have anything super heavy, but you want to make sure not to have an empty stomach. Try having a light snack about an hour before your treatment and avoid caffeine right before, so you can benefit from a deep healing rest.

Don’t overbook yourself: You can continue your day as normal, but try to give yourself that ease back into your day after your session. In other words, try not to schedule something super stressful and/or fast-paced immediately afterwards.

If it’s your first time ever getting acupuncture, get it on a day where the rest of your day is flexible: everyone responds differently to acupuncture, and if you’ve never experienced it before, you want to make sure you give yourself that opportunity to rest. You may feel tired afterwards, for example, which is a sign of underlying deficiencies, something you will work on in sessions. Be gentle to yourself after your treatment and give your body the space and time for rest and relaxation.

Stay hydrated: Hydration is so important for health, from regulating your temperature and digestion, to providing a foundation for your immune system, and so much more. Acupuncture encourages circulation of the blood and the qi in order to clear out blockages; however, if you are dehydrated, your circulation will be slower and you may not be as responsive to the stimulation that acupuncture provides.

Avoid alcohol and drugs before and after: Do not drink or do drugs the day before—or day of—your session. These are substances that dehydrate you and also interfere with your natural qi, creating excess heat and dampness, which can result in both a raised heart rate, inflammation, and sweating, as well as bloating, gas, heaviness in the limbs, and general fatigue. Alcohol and drugs are also very hard on your liver and may overwhelm it with toxins. You want to give your body the best chances at healing from what you want to work on—rather than just from that hangover you may be suffering from right now. It’s also important to avoid any substances after your treatment.

Don’t brush or scrape your tongue on the day of the appointment: Tongue diagnosis is one of the main diagnostic tools in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The tongue is a map of the inside of the body, alerting us to deficiencies or excesses, disease and dysfunction. If you scrape or brush your tongue the day of your appointment, your practitioner will not be able to get an accurate read of your tongue sign, which is comprised of the body of the tongue—its color and shape—as well as the tongue coating, that “fur” that covers the tongue. You should also make sure to let your acupuncturist know if you’ve had coffee or any other food that may have affected the color of your tongue before your treatment.

Exercise before your treatment: If you are someone who works out, try to do this before your treatment, rather than after. As we’ve outlined above, acupuncture can sometimes cause fatigue, depending on the person and their particular deficiencies or excesses. You don’t want to stress the body out with high intensity movement after your session.

Be ready to be an active participant: We will often give lifestyle and dietary advice and recommendations for the healing to continue after the acupuncture session. It’s important to be open to this advice and be willing to make changes in order for you to fully engage with the healing process. As such, questions are also highly encouraged!

Overall, you want to treat your body with care before—and after—your treatment. Your acupuncture sessions should be a time to connect with yourself and your needs. Give yourself kindness and gentleness; this time is for you.