After an acupuncture treatment, most people feel relaxed.

The stress of the day has melted away and a pleasant calmness has taken its place.

In the days that follow, sleep, digestion, and energy are improved, and pain and stress are reduced.

Quite often, however, acupuncture has deeper and more intense effects in the days following the treatment.

Because these reactions are more intense, people become unsure about the efficacy of acupuncture and whether or not to continue treatment.

These effects are not only beneficial, but a necessary part of the medicine.

Acupuncture is capable of dredging up things that have been accumulating in your system for years.

The idea is similar to that of discharge, which I explained in a previous post.

I’m always very encouraged when patients experience deeper reactions, as it indicates that the treatments are helping not only the present symptoms, but your entire being from over a lifetime.

I’m going to cover the three most common reactions to acupuncture, and explain why they are beneficial.


#1 Fatigue

Usually at the end of an acupuncture treatment, you leave with a sense of contentment and relaxation.

This calm feeling is not the same as fatigue.

Occasionally you leave with an I-can-barely-keep-my-eyes-open-I-need-to-sleep-for-11-days feeling, or that feeling develops the next day.

As a practitioner, I’m always excited when I learn that my patients had this type of response.

Sleep is the fastest way your body heals, and your body is giving you an unequivocal sign that you need to slow down and rest for it to do its work.


More than likely, the acupuncture treatment has caused a major shift, and your body needs more downtime in order to process the change and reorganize.

It’s similar to a spring cleaning experience – you get rid of things that are no longer useful and restructure a bit, and afterwards you need to settle into your newly cleaned space and recuperate.

Fatigue is a sign that your body is healing and that you’ll likely feel better than you did before the treatment. Be patient and gentle to yourself while your body works toward better health.


#2 Emotional discharge

Another side effect of an acupuncture treatment is increased expression of emotion.

Sometimes this occurs during the treatment itself. It is common for me to place a particular acupuncture needle and have a patient begin to cry or react emotionally.

Their reaction is not due to pain or discomfort, and they often say that they don’t know what came over them.

The wave of emotional response is an involuntary reaction to the acupuncture treatment.

My patients are usually very apologetic for the outburst, but I encourage them to continue expressing what is coming up.

Emotional trauma and stress get stored in our bodies if it is not actively expressed, and acupuncture helps to unlock these stored emotions.

The acupuncture points work on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level to harmonize the body.

Discharge, whether it be a runny nose or an angry outburst, is generally uncomfortable and happens at inopportune times, but is a cornerstone to health. We have to let go to move forward.

If emotions get stirred up as a result of the acupuncture treatment, I encourage my patients to keep the process going.

Journaling is a great resource; writing about whatever comes up allows your mind to release the feelings instead of running in circles around them.

I also encourage people to take walks by the water or epsom salt baths. The more actively you work to allow the emotions to be expressed, the faster your body will recover and things will settle into place again.



#3 Intensified symptoms

Intensified symptoms happen mainly after an acupuncture treatment for an acute complaint – like a cold, a cough, or a new injury.

Intensified symptoms can also happen in chronic conditions when the body is ready to make a big shift towards health. Again, this is not a bad thing!

The body needs to work through its symptoms in order to recover.

Acupuncture provides the resources for your body to heal faster, and as a result, it can intensify what you are currently experiencing.

The increased intensity means that your body is healing more quickly. It’s processing in one or two days what would have taken several days.

I encourage people to drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep, and allow the body to do its work.


These responses usually occur in a 48 hour window after an acupuncture session.

That’s about the time it takes for the body to readjust from the shifts the treatment has caused.

It’s not always easy to predict which treatments will stir things up, but when increased symptoms do happen, remember it’s a good thing!

Your body is always working for you in the best possible way it knows how!

There are uncomfortable moments of discharge on the path to healing, but these moments always lead to better and more lasting health.