What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture, one of the pillars of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a comprehensive health care system that focuses on preserving health and preventing illness. According to ancient Chinese medical philosophy, disease is the result of an imbalance of energy in the body.  By inserting small, hair-thin needles at specific points on the surface of the body, physiological and energetic changes are induced. Acupuncture promotes the continuous and smooth flow of energy or “Qi” (pronounced “Chee”) through pathways called meridians that travel throughout the body. This network of meridians in which Qi flows connects and nourishes the organs and tissues to manifest balance and regulate physiological processes.

What does acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture has been known to be effective in the treatment of a wide variety of conditions. Following are some conditions commonly treated with acupuncture:

Acne, allergies, anger, anxiety, asthma, arthritis, back and neck pain, bladder problems, bronchitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, constipation, colds and flu, depression, diabetes, diarrhea, dizziness, drug/alcohol/smoking addiction, eye strain, fatigue, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, headache/migraine, high blood pressure, IBS, immune system deficiency, impaired vision, infertility, insomnia, joint problems, knee pain, menopausal discomfort, musculoskeletal injuries, (acute/chronic) pre-menstrual syndrome, menstrual pain, irregular menstrual cycles, morning sickness,  palpitations, post-operative pain, sciatica, skin problems, side-effects of chemotherapy, stress/tension, TMJ disorders, thyroid problems, tinnitus, weight loss, wrinkles, and the list goes on.

What to expect from an acupuncture treatment?

A treatment session begins with a Traditional Chinese Medical diagnosis. As with other healthcare practices, a thorough Health History is taken to determine an appropriate protocol. This diagnosis is unique in that it puts special emphasis on the appearance of the tongue and the quality of the pulse.  All of these factors play an important role in determining a treatment for the underlying disharmony, not just isolated symptoms.

Thin, sterile, non-toxic, single use needles are used to create a mild sensation. Most people find the insertion of needles to be painless, or as that of a small prick, akin to a mosquito bite. This is often followed by a deep state of relaxation or euphoria. The needles are left in place for 20-40 minutes to encourage the body’s natural healing process. The number of treatments required depends on the individual and the particular health concerns being addressed.

Other techniques used during an acupuncture treatment may include:

  • Moxibustion: Heat is applied to acupuncture points, most often by holding a smoldering compressed stick of mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) just above the skin to create warmth, or by placing the herb directly on the skin using a special salve to prevent burns.
  • Cupping: Glass or bamboo cups are placed on the body, most often the back, to move blood and relieve the stagnation that is often the culprit of muscle tension and pain. The inside of the cups are momentarily heated to create suction before being placed on the skin, creating a strong flow of blood to the affected area.
  • Herbal therapy: Depending on your diagnosis, an herbal formula might be recommended. Herbal medicine can be administered in the form of a tincture, tea, or pill.  These products work synergistically with acupuncture to prolong and enhance its effects.