The risk of an adverse reaction from an acupuncture treatment is low, but after a deep session you may experience a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness. Unless it's accompanied by severe nausea or vertigo, mild dizziness is probably a natural result of the rebalancing of electrical energies along the meridians of your body. Rather than being a symptom of something wrong, it may be a sign that the treatment was effective.
The Benefits of Acupuncture
According to Chinese medical practitioners, who have been using acupuncture for millennia, the subtle body consists of a complex grid of energy lines, called meridians. Energy flows freely through the meridians of a healthy person, but when it gets blocked, imbalances form that can cause disease. By using needles to stimulate the points where the meridians intersect, called nodes, the acupuncturist can help release blockages and restore energy flow, balance and health. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Western medicine recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for pain and helpful in the treatment of certain illnesses.
How It Works
When the meridians in your subtle body become blocked, the nodes become electrically charged. According to acupuncturist Ahuti Ferid, this charge is measurable with sensitive equipment and can be responsible for some painful physical conditions. Stimulating the nodes with needles is somewhat similar to grounding a conventional electric circuit. When the needles release the charge, and energy begins flowing through the meridians, all the muscles and organs located along the meridian begin to relax. If the acupuncturist works on several nodes during a treatment, energy usually starts flowing in parts of the body other than those being addressed by the treatment.
Lightheadedness and Dizziness
It's common to experience lightheadedness and dizziness after a comprehensive treatment, but you can also have these symptoms after more limited ones that focus on points in the ears or scalp. It usually isn't an unpleasant sensation, although it can be disorienting. It's a result of renewed energy flow through previously blocked meridians and rarely lasts longer than an hour. Dizziness after acupuncture could be a cause for concern if accompanied by more than mild nausea. If you feel sick to your stomach or have severe vertigo, it is more likely due to pre-existing conditions than it is to the acupuncture treatment.
Remedies for Dizziness
Ferid counsels her clients to remain quiet and in a comfortable sitting or lying position for at least 20 minutes after a session, and then to take it easy for the rest of the day and go to bed early, perhaps after a relaxing bath. A sense of lightheadedness is normal, she says, but if it becomes uncomfortable, you'll usually feel better by doing a few deep breathing exercises and drinking one or two glasses of water. Rather than being concerned about mild dizziness, she believes you should feel encouraged, because it means the treatment was successful.
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Acupuncture; Dec. 14, 2009
- MayoClinic.com; Acupuncture -- Risks; Dec. 11, 2009
- Ahuti Ferid; New Dimensions Acupuncture & Herbology; Ben Lomond, California
Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.