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What is Acupuncture and how does it work?

East vs. West

There are two theories on how Acupuncture works. According to Chinese philosophy, there are two opposing forces within the body: Yin and Yang. When Yin and Yang are balanced with one another, the body is healthy. Qi (pronounced – chee), flows in the body along pathways known as meridians or channels. This constant flow of Qi keeps Yin and Yang balanced. If the flow of Qi is disrupted or blocked, like a car accident on the highway, illness can develop.

The technique of Acupuncture is placing hair-thin needles along these meridians at specific points to help the promotion of the body’s natural healing capabilities and improve overall function. Stimulating the acu-points helps relieve obstructions

in the flow of energy in the meridians, allowing the body to heal. According to Western view, Acupuncture mainly works by stimulation the central nervous system to release certain chemicals that dull pain, boost the immune system and regulate various body functions.

Does Acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture needles are hair-thin and only 1/10 the thickness of a hypodermic needle, so Acupuncture sessions are relatively painless. Many patients do not feel the needle being inserted and a small number may experience a slight pricking sensation or soreness that typically only last a few seconds.

What does Acupuncture treat?

By examining controlled scientific trials regarding Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes that Acupuncture is effective in treating many diseases, conditions and symptoms. Some of these conditions are listed below:

  • Respiratory: common cold & flu, sinus infection, hay fever, bronchitis, asthma
  • Neurological: headaches, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve pain
  • Reproductive: PMS, irregular or painful menstruation, infertility, menopause
  • Musculoskeletal: neck & back pain, tendonitis, arthritis, athletic injuries
  • Mental-Emotional: stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, drug and alcohol addictions
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An Acupuncture treatment will involve:

  • Q & A Session
  • The use of needles
  • Electrical simulation: Electrical stimulation may be added to a treatment in order to increase the efficacy of the treatment.
  • Cupping: Cupping is the application of glass cups over a specific area of the body to create suction. This suction created helps to move local stagnation and improve circulation.
  • Gua Sha: Using a specialized tool, Gua Sha is the scraping of the skin (scraping action does not break through the skin) to reduce local areas of stagnation.
  • Moxibustion of Moxa: Moxa is the burning of the herb Mugwort over specific Acupuncture points or areas of the body to increase circulation by warming.

What to expect:

Each person who performs acupuncture has a unique style, often blending aspects of Eastern and Western approaches to medicine. To determine the type of acupuncture treatment that will help you the most, your practitioner may ask you many questions about your symptoms, behaviors and lifestyle.

They may also closely examine:

  • The parts of your body that are painful
  • The shape, coating and color of your tongue
  • The color of your face
  • The strength, rhythm and quality of the pulse in your wrist

This initial evaluation may take up to 90 minutes. Subsequent appointments usually take about an hour. A common treatment plan for a single complaint would typically involve six to 12 treatments and in some cases longer, depending on the severity and length of time the patient has been dealing with the complaint.

During Treatment

Acupuncture points are located in all areas of the body. Sometimes the appropriate points are far removed from the area of your pain. Your acupuncture practitioner will tell you the general location of the planned treatment and if articles of clothing need to be removed. If appropriate, a gown, towel or sheet will be provided to preserve your modesty. After you lie down on a table, the treatment begins.

Needle insertion

Acupuncture needles are very thin, so insertion usually causes very little discomfort. Between five and 20 needles are used in a typical treatment. You may feel a deep, aching sensation when a needle reaches the correct depth.

Needle Manipulation

Your practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles after they’ve been placed. Another option is to apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles.

Needle Removal

In most cases, the needles will remain in place for 10 to 20 minutes, 45 minutes for Auricular, while you lie still and relax. There is usually no sensation of discomfort when the needles are removed. Your acupuncture practitioner will discard the needles after removal in a bio-hazard container and step out for you to get dressed if necessary.

After Treatment

Some people feel relaxed while others feel energized.

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