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Information on Acupuncture with David Mercier, L.Ac.

What is it? How does it work?
Acupuncture is a method of healing that started in China about 3,000 years ago. It is believed that energy runs through a number of channels in the body, each having a number of spots known as acupuncture points. When needles are put into those points, the energy is changed for the better and the body’s ability to heal itself is strengthened.  Scientists have found that putting the needles into the points triggers a number of healthy changes in the blood and in the brain. Research has shown that endorphins and other opiate like substances are activated in the body, and that treatments can change gene expression; in other words, it can turn off unhealthy genes and turn on the healthy ones. There is substantial evidence for acupuncture’s effects, though most of the scientific community is not aware of it.  


How often will I be treated?  How long is a visit?
The first visit, which includes an exam and a treatment, takes one and a half hours. Most other visits will take 45 minutes to an hour.  As you start to feel better, you will come less often.  


What happens during a visit?
The visit starts with conversation about your life and your health. I will ask about all parts of your life to look for clues to your health problems. Additionally, life coaching is included in the sessions when appropriate. For the first visit, you may be asked to take your shirt off so needles can be tapped lightly into the skin on your back. I will check pulses in both wrists and look at your tongue.  Other problem areas you report will also be examined.  Thin, sterile needles are then put into the points.  The number of needles used depends on your problem.  They are left in place for 20 to 40 minutes while quiet music is played in the background.  You will be very comfortable and relaxed during the session, and most of the time you will feel nothing from the needles.


Do the needles hurt?
Most people have no problem with the needles. Many times the needles cannot be felt at all. Sometimes there can be a brief moment of discomfort when the needle is inserted, but later as you lie on the table, you will barely feel anything.  Some people may be more sensitive than others, but there are methods to make it easy for them.


What can I expect from treatment?
Because everyone is different, the changes will be different for each person.  For many people, changes happen slowly and in small steps.  In other cases, the problem will improve right away, and then start to return in two to four days. The length of time that the problem is gone will increase as treatments continue. You should notice some improvement in either your pain or your mood in three to four treatments. 

Sometimes (less than 10% of the time) people will have a healing “aggravation”. If this happens, the pain may become worse for a short time. Or you may have a release of emotions.  This may continue for 24 to 48 hours after a treatment as the body corrects unhealthy patterns. At the end of that time, there should be a big improvement in your problem. However, if it lasts longer than 48 hours, please be sure to call me.   


What can I do to help with my healing?
Take it easy after a treatment. You might feel full of energy, or happy, or relaxed.  On the other hand, you might feel tired or sleepy for a day.  It is important to listen to the messages your body is giving you during this time, and at any time, for that matter. So, if you feel sleepy and tired, rest or take a nap. It is a good idea to hold off on important decisions right after treatment.

It is also helpful to make changes in your lifestyle that are suggested to you. Many problems come from issues in the patient’s life that only the patient can fix. In fact, empowering you to create a healthy lifestyle for yourself is one of the key goals of treatment.


David Mercier, M.S. L.Ac.

David Mercier, M.S. L.Ac.

David has been in the practice of acupuncture since 1983 when he graduated with a master’s degree from what is now the Maryland University of Integrative Health. He also holds an M.S. in Positive Organization Development from Case Western Reserve University, and is the author of the book, A Beautiful Medicine: A Radical Look at the Essence of Health and Healing, Grand and Gold Prize Winner in the 2013 Nautilus Book Awards. His background includes time spent as a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka during the 1970’s, a two-year training under renowned psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, M.D. in transpersonal psychology, and the development of an integrative medicine center for the University of Maryland Shore Regional Center which he directed for nine years. David’s approach to treatment addresses all aspects of a person’s life: relationships, lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, and his goal is to help each person activate more of their potential to be a vibrant, healthy, and happy human being.


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