Victoria Lee-Baruffolo is now migraine-free thanks to acupuncture. [Photo provided to China Daily]
I had tried everything. Ibuprofen only made the pain a bit more bearable; osteopathy as a holistic approach to medicine only stopped my migraines for a week; and homeopathic medicine, which to this day has been the only medicine I have found that can help avert a migraine once it has just started. Unfortunately, nothing worked as a continuous remedy for my unfortunate chronic condition.
In my hopelessness, my father told me to try acupuncture, which he had undergone once in Hong Kong. It had helped heal his lower back when no other forms of therapy or medicine had worked. I had never experienced traditional Chinese medicine before, except Tiger Balm and the pectoral syrup called Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa, both of which I would frequently use.
With no expectations due to my prior disappointments in my search for a remedy, I embarked on my journey of acupuncture, and I soon found myself in a middle-aged woman's office which was surrounded by Chinese herbal medicines.
After I sat myself down on the patient chair, she asked me why I had come in. As a Francophone, I spoke, at best, shaky Chinese at the time, but perhaps because of this language challenge, I had a very authentic experience with her, a doctor who has practiced this form of medicine for over 40 years.
A few moments later, she placed three fingers on my wrist and silently felt my pulse. I was then taken to a room and told to lie down. Soon, she took out the needles which made me quite apprehensive because such objects make me uneasy.
The initial procedure of receiving acupuncture proved to be quite surprising. To address my migraines, acupuncture was first administered to the back of my hand, which is nowhere near my head. The sensation was quite unexpected too: as the doctor delicately tapped and twisted the needle in, I did not sense the needle itself, but rather an effect that rippled throughout my entire body.
This highlighted the extensive historical body of research and practice which underpins acupuncture: the insertion of a single, slender needle can have such an integrated and holistic impact upon the body, making one feel relatively pain-free.
The doctor then continued to tap and twist more needles throughout my entire body: head, face, stomach, legs, arms, and toes. To my surprise — since not all practices do this — alligator clips were attached to half of the needles inserted into me. The electricity was turned on, and the doctor left the room. While laying still during the treatment, I felt the electricity flow throughout my body.
Around the five-minute mark, the doctor returned and increased the electricity dose. I lay there silently, thinking to myself, as a 15-year-old, what I had agreed to undertake.
But before I knew it, the doctor came back in, turned off the electricity and took the needles out. The entire process was over in 20 minutes. She then prescribed some herbal medicine for me to drink every day for five days.
That night, I recounted the entire experience to my mother. Being French, she was taken aback by the idea of electricity and needles, but I reassured her that while the prospect of needles and electricity was indeed unsettling, I was now without a migraine.
I returned to the doctor for a total of 10 sessions, and each time the same routine was repeated and the same herbal medicine was given as a follow-up.
The true benefits of the acupuncture treatment soon became evident: I was cured of my migraines, and for two years I had not experienced a single relapse.
Acupuncture did change my life. I have found a healthy and natural solution to my migraines. As an added bonus, I've learned, through my treatments, of the many acupressure points on my body and I would massage certain circulation areas on my hand every day to prevent migraines and also sometimes to treat headaches, period cramps and water retention.
This has also allowed me to massage acupressure points for my friends when they complain of a headache.
I am now an advocate for acupuncture because of all the benefits it has brought me.
If you have also been suffering from the conditions I endured, I would highly recommend delving into the world of acupuncture.
Written by Victoria Lee-Baruffolo, 22, a French student at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, completing a master's in political science. She is passionate about promoting cross-cultural understanding globally and bridging cultures in hope to foster international harmony.