If you’ve had acupuncture, you know that “just got off the table feeling,” usually some combination of calm, relaxed, light, and rebooted.

Aculand, as I call it, is a potent nervous system reboot, and a lovely place to visit. But does it last?

“John” had been dealing multiple kinds of arthritis, with pain in his hands, feet, neck, hips, knees, shoulders, mid- and lower back — for more than 10 years.

Pain disrupted his sleep.

It made him grumpy.

It curtailed his ability to make things with his hands, which he loved to do, and inclined him towards comfort-eating cookies, or buying things he didn’t need online.

After six acupuncture visits, a Chinese herbal formula and some dietary changes, John’s pain was dramatically reduced in some places, and gone entirely in others.

He was able to get back to his favorite crafty hobby, sleep through the night, and found he had a lot more patience for the people in his life. Both his weight and his credit card bill dropped as he wasn’t seeking dopamine in all the wrong places.

“I thought being irritable was just my personality. Turns out I was just like that from living with all that pain for so long. Now that it’s gone, I’m like a different person.

What are you living with that you’ve accepted as a given? What if you didn’t have to? I’m now scheduling acupuncture clients for January;  Visit the Clinic tab of the website to schedule your treatment series if you’re a Willamette Valley local.

Good news if you’re among the millions who suffer from anxiety: acupuncture can help. A of 20 randomized controlled trials showed that acupuncture can significantly decrease anxiety — no surprise, since it’s profoundly relaxing for the central nervous system. If you know someone who’s struggling, please encourage them to seek help.

Almost everyone I work with gets a breathing exercise (or several) because breathing is the fastest way to affect the nervous system. When someone is panicking and hyperventilating, the old breathing-into-a-paper-bag trick helps because the person is re-breathing the carbon dioxide-rich air that they’ve just exhaled.

Try this: inhale, and then breathe out all your air and hold your breath on empty. You’ll likely start to feel a little anxious, because the body knows it needs oxygen to breathe. But if we can get used to having higher levels of carbon dioxide circulating in our bodies, it’s easier to stay calm.

To increase your carbon dioxide tolerance –and thus your capacity for calm– try this practice: Inhale through the nose, filling up your low belly and chest. Breathe all the way out through your nose and hold empty as long as you can, up to 30 seconds. Repeat 8 times, once or twice a day.