Often folks who haven’t tried acupuncture before want to know what it will be like. When Christy inquired about treatment for eczema it came with a twist. She has a nickel allergy and wondered if there were nickel-free needle options. I had never treated someone with a nickel allergy before but after some searching found out that most acupuncture needles are stainless steel, which means they likely have nickel in them. Luckily, Tai Chi brand acupuncture needles have a gold-plated, nickel-free variety, so we decided to try them out and blog about it. Below is Christy’s account of the experience as shared on her blog Many thanks to Christy for sharing her personal story. You can check out her post here, and learn more about her below.


There’s a nickel free needle in my face!

Two weeks ago I tried acupuncture for the first time. Acupuncture is an alternative therapy for atopic dermatitis or eczema. Nervous about the needles, I’d connected with Acupuncturist Adrianna Locke, LAC at a business pitch event this past May. Both our businesses were selected to present our 90 second business pitch or elevator speeches.

Reaching out to her about whether she knew if acupuncture could be conducted nickel free, as I am allergic to nickel. She researched for nickel free needles and told me she’d order them. Adrianna informed me that “bio-medically, acupuncture seems to alter circulatory, nervous and endocrine function, possibly by working with the connective tissue.” After talking with her extensively about the benefits of acupuncture and my fears of having needles placed in my skin, I participated in the procedure as an experiment.

Much of the United States health care system is targeted towards sick care, not wellness care. So I figured, what do I have to lose? Why don’t I give Eastern Medicine a try?

Adrianna found gold plated nickel free needles and I was her first patient using these specific needles. It was nice that part of the experience was a first for both of us. I felt safe under Adrianna’s care. She seemed well trained and competent to not only provide me these services, but she was also very receptive to my fears and feelings.

First, I completed standard medical intake paperwork and signed various disclosures to participate in alternative medicine practices. Then Adrianna took me back to her private clinic room. We chatted about my health goals for the session, which involved reducing my stress and eczema for overall wellness. Next she quietly took the pulse of both my left and right hands – for a good 10-15 minutes. Adrianna mentioned that “in Eastern Medicine the pulse can be likened to doing a lab test in Western Medicine.” Taking my pulse is a more objective method for her to understand “the constitutional or overall body health in order to make a more precise diagnosis,” she said.

Our digestive system or gastro-intestine is what processes the food we eat for energy. It also eliminates waste and toxins from our bodies. It would make sense that when Adrianna heard my pulse, it would inform her of digestive distress, as I’d eaten a steak salad for dinner (lettuce is a food high in nickel) the night before my acupuncture appointment. Since my immune system believes foods high in nickel are allergens it would have been sending signals in my body to eliminate the nickel toxins.

After taking my pulse, I laid down on her massage table. Her room was very comfortable and the ceiling looks like a sea of calming baby blue. Next she began treading the needles in my skin’s muscle, starting with my right hand, my right knee, my right foot, moving on to my left food, left knee, left hand then then forehead.

The nickel free gold plated needles are quite a bit shorter than traditional stainless steel needles. They seemed like they had a larger gauge and were at first trickier for Adrianna. However, they went right into the skin and muscles fine, after I conducted some deep breathing exercises to calm myself.  The sensation initially was a little strange. I felt the needle more in my right hand and left knee. She made necessary adjustments to ensure there wasn’t any continued discomfort.

Adrianna left the needles in my skin and muscles for about 30 minutes while I relaxed on the table. When she removed them all, she took them out in the same order she placed them into my skin. That evening my skin did not experience any adverse reactions from the acupuncture, but I felt refreshed.

I highly recommend seeking acupuncture services from Adrianna Locke at Zocalo Wellness. She’s a compassionate acupuncturist who truly cares about her patients’ needs.


About Christy:

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Working with small businesses to grow their business on the web, Christy is the Marketing Director of Howe Innovative Design. Writing about her own nickel food allergy and eczema at http://nickelfoodallergy.com/, Christy loves learning more about food allergies, eczema and health policy. An Australian / American dual citizen, Christy loves to travel, ski, hike and garden. Connect with her on twitter @christycushing.

Photo credits: Christy Cushing and Sara Howe

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