What the Heck Is AcuDetox?

The deets on a craving-cutting, sleep-restoring form of acupuncture that is popping up in area yoga classes this spring

Caroline Grace Ashurst, a NADA-certified acupuncturist based in Center City, performing AcuDetox on a client.

Spring is a time of renewal. Everything that was dormant during the last few cold, snowy months wakes up and begins to grow once again. It’s also a good time to do away with all of the junk you don’t need. Maybe it’s extra pounds you picked up over the winter months or maybe it’s simply time to change a few negative behaviors, like chomping on Popchips at 10:30 p.m. and watching repeat episodes of Bethenny Getting Married instead of going to bed at a reasonable hour. (Not like I know anyone who does that.)

For this reason, quite a few local detox events and programs have popped into my inbox this month. None, however, have piqued my interest more than yoga workshops ending with AcuDetox, a form of acupuncture that promises to do everything from help you chill out and fight cravings to improve sleep. While it might sound a little out there at first, it’s pretty legit: The treatment, which involves the insertion of five thin, sterilized needles at key points around each ear, is regulated by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA). AcuDetox is used throughout the world to help people detox from nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, prescription, and other drugs, as well as to help prevent relapse.

According to NADA, acupuncture affects the body’s central nervous system and key parts of the brain involved in stress response. Many scientists also theorize that AcuDetox dulls the pleasure of drugs by reducing dopamine levels. It’s also been shown to reduce withdrawal symptoms like cravings, anxiety, depression, aches and pains, and insomnia.

So why are yoga studios like Dhyana Yoga and Yoga Schelter pairing AcuDetox with mat sessions? “We’re all addicted to something,” says Caroline Grace Ashurst, a NADA-certified acupuncturist based in Center City, who partnered with yoga instructor Liiana Cameris to create their upcoming Yoga-Puncture class a few months ago. “It may not be illegal drugs, but this type of treatment allows us to get back to that center place. After people get this treatment they are relaxed, calm, and energized at the same time.”

According to Ashurst, each needle affects a different system of the body. “One activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which increases relaxation, while the others correlate with the kidneys, lungs, liver, and heart. This activates the body’s self-regulating systems, which help the body clean itself of toxins naturally.” — Research by Samantha Gray

Four Places to Get Your AcuDetox Fix

What: Yoga-Puncture
When: March 26, 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Yoga Schelter, 3502 Scotts Lane, 215-840-4972.
Cost: $55

What: Spring Acu-Yoga Detox: Emerge Anew
When: April 2, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Ryah Yoga and Health, 424 East Elm Street, Conshohocken, 610-834-1551.
Cost: $35

What: Yoga-Puncture
When: April 23, 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Where: Dhyana Yoga, Old City, 68 North 2nd Street, 215-222-9642.
Cost: $50

What: Acupuncture Happy Hour
When: Wednesday nights, starting April 13, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Space 2033, 2033 Frankford Avenue, Fishtown, restorativeharmony.com.
Cost: $10-$15, sliding scale. Call 215-429-2662 to reserve a spot.