Gay Wellness

All About Acupuncture

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one part of the spectrum of treatment of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which also includes herbs, massage, exercise, and diet. TCM is one of the most ancient systems of treatment known to mankind, the origins of which date back to at least 2,000 years ago. 

The word “acupuncture” is derived from Latin roots. The Latin root word “acu” means a needle, and thus acupuncture means “to puncture with a needle.” 

If you’ve had acupuncture, you’ll know that practitioners carry out treatment by inserting a few find needles and two points on your body. These points are located and linked on channels or meridians, along with energy, known as Qi, pronounced Qi flows. Qi (or energy, or life force) underlies the balance functioning in the body, and when it becomes blocked or deficient, we become unhealthy. 

The meridian points are carefully chosen by the practitioner in order to disperse any blockages and to bring your Qi into a better balance. The more this balance is achieved the healthier you become.

Although it appears very simple from the outside, it takes years of in-depth study to learn where to place the needles in order to treat patients accurately and with care and sensitivity. The study of acupuncture covers many components. These include how to correctly make a Chinese medicine, diagnosis, how to recognize which points to use, how to locate the points, how to interact with people, and how to insert the needles to the best effect. 

Although Chinese Medicine diagnosis uses a completely different paradigm from that of a western diagnosis, practitioners also study western medicine in order to understand want to refer them to understand the effects of medicinal drugs.

What Acupuncture helps with

When we asked the question, "What can acupuncture help with?," it’s more question actually of what can I not help with:  its effects are so wide-ranging and broad. Because acupuncture is holistic, it treats a patient’s body, mind, and emotions, and deals with a whole range of acute and chronic problems. According to Loren Stiteler LAc., acupuncture helps with chronic pain, headaches, insomnia, improves cancer recovery, prevents cognitive decline, and many more issues.

Chinese medical treatment is different from that of Western medicine in many ways. When you are treated with Western medicine, your practitioner will usually concentrate on diagnosing and treating your outward signs and symptoms. In contrast, acupuncture recognizes that all problems have an underlying cause. The practitioner aims to find, and treat the root cause of your problem in order to alleviate your present condition. 

Dealing only with your signs and symptoms without dealing with the underlying cause tends to produce a temporary alleviation, but it won’t last. Rather than considering whether acupuncture can help your signs and symptoms, your practitioner will probably ask, “can acupuncture help this person?”

gay man with needles from acupunture

Acupuncture is one of the fastest-growing and most popular complementary therapies in the west. Because acupuncture is a holistic therapy it can treat a large range of acute different conditions that manifest in a patient’s body, mind, and spirit.

Much research has now been carried out into the effectiveness of acupuncture, but much remains to be done. Acupuncture is known to have many physiological effects, particularly via neuro-chemicals, such as secretions, known as endorphins, which can kill the pain. Subsequent studies have also shown many other beneficial effects of acupuncture.

Who should receive acupuncture? 

Young or old, male, or female, anyone can benefit from acupuncture. Most people embark on treatment because others who have benefited from acupuncture have recommended it. There are also various other reasons. These include the recommendation of a general practitioner, an interesting fascination with acupuncture, Chinese philosophy, or feeling ill enough to try anything. 

Categories of conditions 

Acupuncture tree to each person individually, but to ensure clarity we've amassed the range of conditions that can it treat into six broad categories, which are… 

❤ Aches or pains 

❤ Mental emotional conditions

❤ Physical problems

❤ Acute infections

❤ Viral conditions

❤ Severe, long-term chronic illness 

The first consultation

The diagnosis is carried out at the first visit, so this session takes longer than the following treatments. During the first consultation, your acupuncturist will ask you lots of questions about yourself.

A diagnosis is literally the foundation of treatment. By finding out about you and your health, your practitioner can decide how to best treat you. The resulting treatment plan forms the basis from which your acupuncturist carries out the subsequent treatments. You’ll be asked questions about your main complaint and your general health. 

Your acupuncturist may ask you all kinds of questions that you may not have anticipated, all of which are contributing to an overall picture of your health and body, mind, and spirit.

Pulse diagnosis

Once, concluding the diagnosis, the practitioner will then take your pulse. Pulse diagnosis forms an important part of both diagnosis and treatment. Having felt your pulse at the beginning of treatment, your acupuncturist might feel them again a number of times during the treatment. This is because the pulse is altered during the course of treatment and enables your acupuncturist to monitor how well it’s progressing. 

Tongue diagnosis

They will look at your tongue during your initial visit and each subsequent treatment. Observing the tongue is also a very sophisticated method of diagnosis. As treatment progresses, the coating on your tongue will gradually change, indicating that you are becoming healthier. Different areas of the tongue are associated with different organs and your practitioner will be looking for any cracks, spots, or different colors in these areas.

gay man showing tongue for acupuncture

About the Needles

Nowadays needles are commonly made from stainless steel. They are impossible to break, very flexible, and will not rust. They are carefully sterilized, as health and safety checks are also made by local authorities. 

The acupuncturist first finds the right needle to penetrate the skin. Using a guide tube on the needle will ensure a smooth and painless insertion. 

The needles have to be inserted at the correct point depth. 

You will feel a slight sensation as the needle contacts the Qi. This sensation can either be an ache, numbness, tingling, or a sensation of heat. This feeling only lasts for a couple of seconds. 

If this Qi is very “stuck,” you may feel slightly more sensation from the needles. If this happens, it is a sign that there’s more blockage of the Qi, and stronger needle manipulation has been required. 

Does any of this hurt? Not very much. Really.

In general, 4 to 10 needles are used per treatment, but the number varies according to your condition and the strength of your Qi. For example, your acupuncturist will use more needles if you have an acute condition involving a block rather than a chronic one. Your practitioner will also vary the number of needles according to the strength of your constitution. 

So if you have a more fragile constitution, you may require fewer needles, and if you have a stronger one. The needles will not make you bleed!


This technique has been used alongside acupuncture throughout Chinese history. Moxibustion is carried out by burning an herb close to or on your body in order to warm and nourish your Qi. 

The herb used is similar to our native mugwort, a weed that grows by the roadside. When it is lit, it has an unmistakable aroma that fills the treatment room. It is this pungent odor, as well as the warmth, given off by the burning of the herb, that provides its healing effect. 

Traditionally Moxa was first used in the northern part of China, where the climate is colder.

Moxibustion on a gay man

Moxibustion is used for two main reasons. First, it warms you up when you have a condition that is particularly cold.

 Such conditions might vary from a painful joint to a cold, lower, abdomen, or an aching, cold, lower back. 

In these cases, the moxibustion produced has a strong heat with a penetrating effect. This can drive the cold from the body, and over time, is the condition completely.


To find a gay or queer acunpuncturist near you, check out the “Health & Wellness” section of each city. In the US, there are gay spas in many of the major cities, including Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle, and more.

Palm Springs, CA

I am a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. I am grounded in evidence based medicine and healing arts such as, breathwork, herbal medicine, hypnotherapy and more.

San Antonio, TX

Red Raven Acupuncture is a LGBT owned business specializing in pain management, mental health, sports injuries, and men's health.

Los Angeles, CA
5/5 (2 Reviews)

Not your average spa-cupuncture: Medicine you can feel. Because if you can't feel it working, it probably isn't.

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