I am often asked, “how many acupuncture treatments will it take?” to resolve a person’s condition. My response is almost always 10 treatments, sometimes it is less and sometimes it is more, but the most potent and long lasting choice is 10 treatments. In order for me to explain why I recommend this many treatments you will need to become familiar with a couple of new concepts. They are Neuroplasticity and Proprioception.
Neuroplasticity describes the recent scientific discovery that the human brain can change on a physical and physiological level in ways that can resolve “hard wired” conditions like trauma, chronic pain and addiction. Which is great news for millions of people everywhere. Proprioception describes how your nerves and muscles perceive your posture, movement and coordination. Your proprioceptive system also keeps you from unnecessary injuries. Imagine that you are walking along and you step off of a side walk and begin to turn your ankle. Your proprioceptive system will register the strain in your ankle and “turn off” certain muscles in your hip and leg to take the pressure off of the ligaments and tendons in your ankle saving you from a painful sprain. Sometimes a stumble is actually a save. Pretty cool…
When you are receiving regular massage, acupuncture or other treatments that reduce stress, relieve pain and release emotional distress you are also resetting your proprioceptive system. This changes how your Central Nervous System (CNS) feels and remembers how your life is going – for the better. Regular deeply relaxing treatments are also one of the best ways to improve your brains Neuroplasticity.
What about the 10 weeks you ask? As it turns out, your brain likes to think that is doing a good job. It has to or you would feel nervous all of the time. Because your brain (CNS) needs to feel confident in its abilities (regardless of your level of fitness) it can be a bit stubborn about change. I call this the neuro-rigity wall. It usually takes 9 – 10 weeks of consistent positive change for your CNS to be convinced that it is worth all of the effort it is going to take to rearrange itself. The physical changes involved in Neuroplasticity require a lot of physiological transformation and growth of new neuropathways. Imagine something along the lines of actual evolutionary change in your brain and Central Nervous System.
Another example of the neuro-rigidity wall is changing how you approach exercise. Let’s say you have been exploring the couch potato experience for a couple of years and are getting frustrated with the results. You decide to kick it into gear, go to the gym and start working out. For almost everyone I have ever supported in this process it is always at week nine that they suddenly feel too tired to train or become very emotional or suddenly come down with a flu. This is your brain’s way of asking “are YOU sure want me to go through all of the work it is going to take rewrite all of those neuropathways?”
The only way to say YES! to your brain is to positively change your nerve and muscle memory and your proprioceptive system is by working through the neuro-rigity wall and keep training through week 10. Then your brain will remember you as someone who IS more fit, more focused and in definitely better health. It is the same with regular weekly treatments. After ten weeks almost everyone notices a significant shift in how long they feel the benefits of a treatment and how rarely stubborn symptoms reappear. When it comes to recovering from chronic disease the benefit comes from settling, or down-regulating, your Central Nervous System (CNS), your immune system and your inflammatory metabolism. I explain how that works in more detail in the article “The Devastating Gut, Immune and Brain Feedback Loop”. For now I encourage you to plan ten weeks of living as healthy as you can, exercising regularly and getting some kind of support for your proprioceptive system like massage or acupuncture.
I hope this information gives you the inspiration, confidence and curiosity to look at improving your health in a new way. I am interested in your experience with this phenomenon and look forward to your comments and questions.
“Cook Well, Eat Well and Be Well!”