I've personally achieved excellent results for people who were just in the beginning stages of cold/flu - either heading things off entirely or reducing the total time of the disease. The trick is: you want to receive treatment as early as possible - either right at onset or just after.
For best results, make sure your provider is nationally board certified through the NCCAOM. I'd suggest starting with the "Find a Practitioner" page at NCCAOM.org to find someone local to you,
Acupuncture studies have pretty consistently shown that it activates the parasympathetic side of the autonomic nervous system. This is the so-called "rest and digest" part of the equation. This activation goes a long way to helping people relax and better manage the more stressful parts of their lives.
I'd suggest starting with the "Find a Practitioner" page at NCCAOM.org. Find some acupuncturists local to you and see if they offer a free initial consult. You're looking for someone both you and your son feel comfortable with.
Depending on your son's feelings about acupuncture, you might also try to find someone who can treat with fewer needles.
Some of the best studies of acupuncture in pain conditions show that the needles might be doing a couple things:
1. Regulating a set of neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord which have a lot to do with transmission of sensory signals, including pain signals. In essence, acupuncture is changing the way pain signals propagate through the central nervous system.
2. Re-mapping areas of the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The prefrontal cortex is an area of the brain which is heavily involved in the processing of pain signals. The changes induced by acupuncture appear to be changing the way the brain interprets pain.
In addition to these two things, certain kinds of acupuncture (especially a technique known as electrical stimulation) have been shown to induce the body to create stem cells which can help repair damaged areas.
As to your question regarding technique - that will depend heavily on the particular acupuncturist you choose to see and what system of acupuncture they practice. In the west, we tend to see acupuncture as a single monolithic approach. The reality is there are multiple systems inside the acupuncture container and different people practice in different ways.
Broadly speaking you're going to see two different approaches:
1. Folks who treat locally. In this case, if you come in complaining of low back pain, the practitioner will go through an intake and diagnosis and needles will likely be placed in or near the painful areas of your low back. This approach would include techniques like trigger or motor point stimulation as well as more classical local points indicated for low back issues.
2. Folks who treat distally. In this case, if you come in with a low back pain complaint, the practitioner will go through an intake and diagnosis and needles will not be placed in or near the low back; they'll be placed elsewhere on the body - usually between the elbows and hands/knees and feet. These systems are a lot more difficult for westerns to wrap their minds around, but for pain conditions they can be extremely effective.
I practice a distal system of acupuncture and I get excellent results treating back pain by placing needles on the back of the hands.
The most important thing is not whether the practitioner is using local or distal techniques. The important thing is whether or not they can accurately assess and diagnose your issue in terms of Chinese medicine. For this, you need to make sure you're seeing someone who is NCCAOM board certified (either Dipl Ac. or Dipl OM). I'd suggest starting with the "Find a Practitioner" page at NCCAOM.org to find board certified and licensed practitioners in your area.
1. A practitioner that both you and your son are comfortable with. Go out to the 'Find a Practitioner' page at NCCAOM.org and look up some folks who are close to you. Call around and see who offers a free consult, then take your son for a visit. It may take a little extra time, but not everyone is good with kids and your son needs to be as comfortable as possible.
2. I'd also suggest trying to find someone who knows how to treat using relatively few needles - like 10 or less. Most of the time, when I'm working with kids, I try to keep it under 5.
After that, a lot will depend on your son's ability to tolerate the needles and to sit/lay with them for a short amount of time. Kids typically respond to acupuncture really quickly, so it shouldn't take many visits to see results.
If you have hyperthyroid or Graves syndrome (a condition where the thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone which turns up the metabolic rate), acupuncture can help to regulate things and move you back towards a more "normal" range.
If you're female and the problem is tied to an issue around the menstrual cycle, again acupuncture can help to regulate the system and return things to a "normal" range.
If you're just one of those people who runs a high metabolism, acupuncture may be able to help slow things down a bit, but you'll still probably have to consume more calories than an average person if you're trying to gain weight.
All this being said, your first stop should probably be your primary care MD. You need some blood tests to look at T3/T4, TSH, blood glucose, A1C, hormones, etc. - just to make sure everything is in a normal range. I'd also suggest looking in to getting some body composition tests done - this way you'll know your lean mass relative to fat.
If you're making weight gain/weight loss decisions based on BMI, I'd suggest looking at another method. BMI isn't very flexible and doesn't account for differences in body type (I've seen some very fit people declared 'obese' based on their BMI numbers). A couple things you can check out on your own are: waist circumference (women should be 35" or less, men 40" or less) and waist hip ratio (women should be 0.8 or less, men should be 0.95 or less).
Acupuncture also has an excellent track record with stress management. The combination of regulating neurotransmitters and reducing stress usually leads to significant pain relief.
I only practice Chinese medicine, so I can't really comment too much on other options. Conventional medicine has a handful of pharmaceuticals they typically use in fibromyalgia. My experience with patients is that sometimes these drugs can work well and sometimes they don't do much at all.
I'd suggest starting with the "Find a Practitioner" page at NCCAOM.org. See if you can find a local acupuncturist who specializes in pain management. Plan on giving acupuncture at least 3 to 5 visits to determine whether or not it's going to work for you.
There are a lot of variables in play: how long have you been experiencing this issue? Do you have a conventional diagnosis (in other words: do you know what's causing the issue from a hormonal perspective)? Are you currently using pharmaceuticals to manage the condition?
I'd suggest acupuncture with a few caveats: you want someone who has worked with thyroid issues before. It's probably going to take somewhere in the neighborhood of 7-9 treatments before you're going to know whether and how well acupuncture is working. You may need to be open to either herbal therapy, food therapy or both to really get things moving in a healthy direction. You may also need to use conventional pharmaceuticals as a stop gap until the Chinese medicine starts to bring things under control.
In a case like this, perhaps more than any other time, it's critical that you see an NCCAOM board certified acupuncturist who can accurately diagnose the issue in terms of Chinese medicine. I'd start with the "Find a Practitioner" page at NCCAOM.org. Call a few folks local to you, ask whether they've been successful with this issue before and, if they haven't, if there's someone they'd recommend.
Acupuncture sessions can be somewhat divided between initial intake and follow-up. During an initial intake you're going to spend anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes with a practitioner asking you a lot of questions - many of which will seem like they don't have anything to do with your core issue. After the questioning, they'll probably look at your tongue and check the pulses at both wrists. After that, they should explain their findings and provide your initial treatment (which can be a variety of things depending on the practitioner). In a follow-up they're going to ask a few questions, check your tongue and pulse and then provide a treatment (which, again, can be a variety of things depending on the practitioner). Ear points in addiction are often not stimulated with needles, sometimes we use a seed on a sticky backing. These are put at various points on the ear and can remain in place for several days providing longer treatment.
That being said, in my experience, if a patient is watching their diet and exercising then acupuncture can help. If the diet isn't right or the patient isn't exercising (or both), then acupuncture isn't going to get you where you want to be.
There is a lot that affects what any given patient may or may not feel: the skill of the practitioner, the sensitivity of the patient, the particular point being used and so on. That being said, acupuncture should not be uncomfortable. Any needle that is giving you a sharp, stabbing sensation after sitting for a moment should either be removed or re-positioned. Don't be afraid to provide feedback to your practitioner in this regard.
Chronic fatigue is one of those odd corner cases for conventional medicine. Normally, the diagnosis is one of exclusion - in other words, they rule other things out and then finally conclude the issue must be chronic fatigue. At that point, the approach is usually one of symptom management. Chinese medicine and acupuncture have a very different diagnostic system and we can usually get to the root cause of this issue which generally gives the patient better results. You'll get the best possible result with an NCCAOM board certified acupuncturist. I'd suggest starting with NCCAOM.org and using their "Find a Practitioner" lookup to locate some local providers.
I generally get excellent results for a spectrum of digestive complaints ranging from acid reflux to chronic diarrhea to chronic constipation. For the best results, make sure you're seeing an NCCAOM board certified acupuncturist.