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Acupuncture in SF: A Beginner's Guide

Photo courtesy of Plum District

Those who have gone under the needle can attest to the healing powers of acupuncture for everything from chronic skin conditions to infertility. The practice originated in China and has been performed for thousands of years. In the U.S., it’s often used as an alternative for those who’ve exasperated their options within Western medicine. 

As hair thin needles are quickly inserted, the familiar zing of electricity that pulses through the body is both frightening and exhiliarating. Don't be fearful, most of us could use a little balance in the flow of our qi. 

Curious? Here are a few recommendations for the acupuncture virgin: 

Private Session

A great acupuncturist will spend ample time at your initial visit asking specific questions about your symptoms, exploring your medical and stress history, taking your blood pressure, and checking the color of your tongue. Needle insertion tends to be painless (though expect the “zing” from time to time) and you may enter a deep dreamy nap as you rest horizontally for the next 30 – 60 minutes. Depending on your condition, your treatment may be supplemented with various Chinese herbs once you depart. Look for a licensed acupuncturist (with initials “L.Ac.” after his or her name) with good reviews. I recommend Jill Hutchinson of Body Mind Acupuncture who works out of the Flood Building at the Powell St. cable care turnaround.

Community Acupuncture

Acupuncture, like any treatment, works best when practiced regularly. However, it can get pricey if your insurance won’t cover it. San Francisco Community Acupuncture has a sliding scale fee of $25 - $45. After a brief consultation, the acupuncturist inserts needles while you relax in a reclined lounge chair, one of four in the room. A white noise maker supplies background buzz, but if you're used to private sessions, relaxation may not be as deep if you're prone to distraction as people enter and exit at their will. Bring headphones if that's the case.

Spa Session with a Twist

International Orange Spa offers an acupuncture restorative facial that could be the most blissed-out 75 minutes you’ve had in awhile. After indulging your face with a variety of soothing cleansers, lotions, and masks to soften skin and stimulate collagen production, needles are applied to the face, as well as the body, to reduce tension and improve muscle tone. A few sessions of this (and even after just one) and your skin will be noticeably more radiant. Book ten and save 15%.

Acupuncture Facelift

If you're concerned as much about wrinkles as you are about stress, then facial rejuvenation acupuncture is what you need. Similar to the above, hair thin needles are used on particular areas of the face, ears, neck, and body. Say goodbye to baggy eyes, droopy lids, and double chins. It's not miraculous, but the results are known to take five to fifteen years of city living (and partying) off of your face. It's a way more affordable option (and obviously much safer) than surgery. Kim Peirano, MS, L.Ac. specializes in facial acupuncture and practices in both SF and Walnut Creek.

A session with a licensed acupuncturist might just be a life-changing experience. At the minimum, you will leave feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated than you have in a long time. Acupuncture naps are seriously the best.