How Long Does It Take before You See Results from Acupuncture?

People often ask how long it takes to see results with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

A question I often get is, “How long will it take before you see results and changes in your condition after you start Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture treatment?” The answer is that it depends. It depends on a lot of things. The results can vary from being completely better in one treatment, to requiring months of regular treatment.

Many times changes will be slow and subtle to give your body and mind time to rebalance and recover from the condition.

Factors That Affect the Results of Acupuncture and TCM

Here are some of the factors that will influence the results you’ll get from TCM and acupuncture treatment and the speed at which you will see improvements:

  • How long the problem or conditions have been going on: You may experience immediate relief from a symptom, such as acute back pain, but you may need more treatments to heal the underlying factors that caused the acute flare-up. Generally, it takes about one month of treatment for each year that contributed to your condition. When we’re in pain, our nerves create neural pathways to teach our bodies how to respond. The longer the condition has been going on, the more deeply ingrained these neural pathways are. With acupuncture, we show the nerves new ways to approach the symptoms and to create new habits of healing. This process can take time.
  • How severe the condition is: The more serious the condition, the longer and more frequent the treatment needs to be.
  • Herbal Medicine

  • How diligently one comes in for treatment and takes prescribed herbs: It goes without saying that the more serious you take your treatment, the better the results you can expect.
  • Your genetics: Although our genetics play a role in the conditions we develop, your condition may still be treatable. Your genetics may shorten or extend your treatment period. The emerging field of epigenetics is showing us that while we may have a genetic predisposition for a condition, it is often lifestyle factors that determine whether the gene is activated and the condition expressed.
  • The willingness to change thought patterns and lifestyle and dietary habits: It also depends on how open and willing someone is to change or shift unhealthy lifestyle and dietary habits that contribute to their condition, as well as thought patterns that may affect the severity of conditions.
  • Genetics play a large role in health, but that’s only one of many.

  • Exposure to stress: The length required for treatment can also depend on whether someone continues to live a stressful life as well as their overall mental state. When stress levels are decreased, greater results will be seen with treatments.
  • Personal set of symptoms: Each person has different triggers for different symptoms, which will affect the kind and length of treatment needed. For instance, one person will get a migraine after a long day at work while another person’s migraine will set in after they go for a run. One person will describe their headache as pounding and hot, while another will describe it as cold and depleting.

What to Expect with Acupuncture and TCM Treatment

For many people de-stressing can play a crucial role in the treatment outcome.

Your first visit will often be a bit longer. During this initial visit, we’ll discuss some important questions about your condition and lifestyle so that we can tailor the treatment plan to best address and improve your condition. Your personalized treatment plan may include acupuncture, herbal remedies, dietary changes, exercise, and other lifestyle changes.

Some people may find that their condition moves slowly towards being cleared and they can sense progression. Other times the condition may seem to remain the same until it reaches a tipping point, after which progression is often rapid.

You may not always notice the improvements yourself, as these changes are often subtle, or you may be too busy to notice the differences. I am always reminding people to slow down and tune into the body. When we do this, not only do we notice if there has been progress, we also often facilitate and hasten this progress.

Throughout treatment, we’ll have open discussions about your progress and the improvements you can expect. If needed, I’ll tweak treatments for better results.

Here are a few subtle changes you may notice that will confirm that you’re making progress:

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    Developing healthy habits is also often a large determinant of the long-term success of treatment.

  • Needing fewer pain medications
  • Symptoms becoming less frequent and not lasting as long
  • Sleeping better
  • Better appetite and digestion/elimination
  • Increased range of motion
  • Being able to navigate emotional ups and downs more effectively
  • Feeling healthier and happier
  • Having more energy


Natural approaches, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, need more patience. Keep in mind that we don’t just fix your symptoms. There is a meaning behind each symptom you’re experiencing, and Chinese Medicine helps to interpret that meaning to find a way to rebalance the body and mind. We don’t fix the problem. We help you tune into the imbalance and heal it from within.

By tuning into the body and listening to its messages, and responding by giving the body what it wants, we can make the healing process much smoother and quicker.

Feel free to contact with me to discuss your progress or if you’re intrigued to know what kind of results you can expect from acupuncture and TCM.

Tags: Acupuncture clinic San Francisco, acupuncture TCM results, acupuncture treatment, Chinese herbal medicine clinic, nutrition, nutritional counseling, San Francisco, Timothy Asher, Traditional Chinese Medicine,

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