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Up until December last year, I had never considered acupuncture to be something that was for me. I don’t have a fear of needles, but I also couldn’t see how having them placed across my body could ever be relaxing or beneficial for my health and wellbeing. I was so wrong. My journey with acupuncture started just a few months ago at Modern Acupuncture, Chicago, and it has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined.

In amongst the general 2020-ness of life, I lost my Mum to breast cancer and I also moved from England to Chicago. It was a lot. I had done most of it on autopilot though and only after arriving in Chicago, did I realise just how many headaches I was having. By December, I was having terrible headaches every single day and it was just exhausting me. I was also going through a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis which left me with aching joints and pins and needles across my arms and wrists. Quite honestly, I felt pretty overwhelmed with it all.

The Windy City Mama and I
The Windy City Mama and I catching up after acupuncture

One of the amazing Chicago bloggers I follow, The Windy City Mama, had been telling me about her journey with Modern Acupuncture and even though it sounded great, I was still a bit reluctant to try it. However at the time they had a great offer of a free first session and so after speaking to the manager, Nilam, I thought what have I got to lose. I booked my session and headed in. My friend also booked a session and we turned it into a bit of a self-care morning!

modern acupuncture treatment room

Modern Acupuncture is set up to give you a little slice of paradise for your 30 minute treatment. Entering through a huge (and beautiful) wooden door, you enter into an almost spa-like room with various massage-type tables or reclining armchairs. I had treatments on both the table and chair and can see how people have a favourite. Given I was going for headaches, I mainly had my treatments on the table and I always loved them. It felt just like going for a massage and I even fell asleep in one treatment. I also thoroughly enjoyed my chair experience – it reclines, heats up and massages you during your treatment. What could be better! With calming music, and screens showing gorgeous shots panning across various natural wonders, I instantly felt calmed.

treatment room

I was then met by my acupuncturist, Anais, who discussed with me what I could expect from the treatment but also asked me what I wanted to get from it. After explaining what had been going on, I got ready whilst Anais worked out a plan for treatment. Not all people have an immediate response to acupuncture. For some it can take a whole course of treatment to see a real benefit. But for me, the response was automatic. After 30 minutes of total zen, I sat up and actually felt very emotional. I even asked if it was normal to feel so emotional after a treatment – and was reassured when Anais explained it was quite common! It was almost like the stress of the whole past year had risen up and floated away. I can’t explain how I felt that day, but even my husband noticed the difference when I got home.

But the real benefit came the following morning, and the morning after that, and actually every morning since I started my first treatment. Since that first day in December when I walked through the doors, I haven’t had a single headache. Throughout December and January I went each week and saw Anais, or Kelsi (another of the amazing acupuncturists at Modern Acupuncture) and they fixed me up with 30 minutes of calm. In fact the first week in February, I didn’t make the time to go along and I had my first headache since the start of December.

More than that though, the regular sessions have also kept my aches and pains at bay. Along with cutting out dairy (which I did just before Christmas) and moving to a more plant-based diet, I can genuinely say that I have never felt in better physical health. It means I have more energy to look after myself and my family which always helps when you’re a tired-out Mum!

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So some questions I have been asked a few times since starting by other people:

Does it hurt when the needles go in?

No. Not at all. You can feel it, but it feels like the tiniest pinprick and then dissipates instantly. Before leaving you to relax, the acupuncturists at Modern Acupuncture always check in with you to make sure you’re totally comfortable. To improve circulation to my hands, I even had needles between my fingers one session. Honestly, the thought is way worse than the reality and for the most part I can’t even tell you where I’ve had them!

Does it really work though?

For me, 100% yes. And for most of the people I’ve spoken to, they’ve all seen results. Some people are perhaps more susceptible to its benefits, as with any other medication, but acupuncture has been recognised by The World Health Organisation as treatment for numerous health conditions. I genuinely am a total convert to it and will value it as part of my health routine, just as I would going to the gym/eating healthily.

Is it expensive?

It can be but I would also say it is worth it. Modern Acupuncture regularly has offers on, especially for first-time clients, but once you are ready to commit, they also offer brilliant monthly plans or pay as you go packages. Also, some acupuncturists will accept insurance so be sure to speak to your provider.

*In England, you can sometimes be referred for acupuncture but it can have lengthy wait times. I would recommend speaking to your GP in the first instance*

How often do i have to go?

Acupuncture is cumulative so arguably the more you go, the more benefit you are likely to see. Generally if you have acute pain, you might need to go more often but for a shorter period of time whereas if you have something more chronic, you are more likely to need to maintain it and keep it up. I started going twice a week to clear up my headaches and then reduced to once or twice a month to make sure they didn’t come back, and also because I enjoyed it as time to myself.

Is it relaxing?

Again, this is a personal thing. Just as some people enjoy a hot relaxing bath, or others enjoy listening to a podcast, I genuinely did find my sessions at Modern Acupuncture relaxing. I did have to psych myself up the first couple of times because I am an anxious person and anything new in my routine is challenging at first, but quickly I came to look forward to them. The staff at Modern Acupuncture are so incredibly kind and I quickly came to view them as friends who I could share what was going on in my life too. One particularly stressful week, I burst into tears on arrival and yet Kelsi calmed me down and made sure I had a truly relaxing 30 minutes so I was ready to go back out and face the world!

Would you recommend it?

Absolutely. If you haven’t worked out by now, it is fair to say I am a total convert to acupuncture and I can’t believe I ever questioned going. One of the things I love most about Modern Acupuncture specifically is that it’s easy to fit into your routine with a short 30 minute treatment. The staff are also some of the kindest people I have met since moving to Chicago and I always look forward to going in.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me a DM on Instagram. And if you’re Chicago-based and want to know more, Nilam and her team are genuinely so helpful and happy to walk you through the first steps of your Modern Acupuncture Journey.

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Nilam and her MA team are incredible!

**For total transparency, I attended my first appointment for free as Modern Acupucnture had an offer on for a first free consultation appointment. I was then given 8 free sessions in return for an honest review and social media coverage but I will now be making acupuncture a part of my essential monthly routine and paying for the services based on my incredible experience**