How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture points are areas of designated electrical sensitivity. Inserting needles at these points stimulates various sensory receptors that, in turn, stimulate nerves that transmit impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system at the base of the brain. The hypothalamus-pituitary glands are responsible for releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing hormones. It is estimated that endorphins are 200 times more potent than morphine. Endorphins also play a big role in the functioning of the hormonal system. This is why acupuncture works well for back pain and arthritis and also for P.M.S. and infertility. The substances released as a result of acupuncture not only relax the whole body, they regulate serotonin in the brain which plays a role in human and animal disposition. This is why depression is often treated with acupuncture. Some of the physiological effects observed throughout the body include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, relief from pain, relief of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count which stimulates the immune system.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
Every Acupuncture & Asian medical treatment is custom tailored to address the individual patient’s needs. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, how long a condition has lasted, and if you are able to do “homework” (e.g. dietary and lifestyle changes, self-massage, etc), the number of treatments you need will differ also. In general, people receive a treatment every 1-2 weeks for the first month, then as improvement becomes significant and sustained, the time between sessions lengthens also. Some situations do not need treatments after a few visits, while others choose to have continued treatments once every 1-3 months in order to help maintain health.
Can acupuncture work with western medicine?
Absolutely. The best treatment is using a combination of Allopathic Medicine (Western Medicine) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Of course, there are times where one is better to use than the other. For example, if you break your leg, go to the ER to get x-rays and your cast first. Then, you may come to a TCM practitioner to help speed up the healing process. Or, if you have a chronic or acute injury like back pain, TCM may be a better alternative before you allow your body to be filled with narcotics to cover the pain or surgically alter your body from its natural state. An example of the two working hand in hand is in the treatment of HIV and Cancer. Both of these disease processes require the patient take medicine that is very toxic to their body systems causing several side effects. The use of TCM has proven to help reduce these side effects, allowing the patient to handle the treatment much better.
What is Qi and how does it travel?
At the core of this ancient medicine is the philosophy that Qi (pronounced “chee”), or Life Energy, flows throughout the body. Qi helps to animate the body and protect it from illness, pain and disease. A person’s health is influenced by the quality, quantity and balance of Qi. Qi circulates through specific pathways called meridians. There are 14 main meridian pathways throughout the body. Each is connected to specific organs and glands. Meridian pathways are like rivers. Where a river flows, it transports life-giving water that nourishes the land, plants and people. In the same way, meridian pathways transport life-giving Qi to nourish and energize every cell, organ, gland, tissue and muscle.When Qi flows freely throughout the body, one enjoys good physical, mental and emotional well-being. An obstruction of Qi anywhere in the body is like a dam, backing up the flow in one area and restricting others. This blockage can hinder the distribution of the nourishment that the body requires to function optimally.
Why do they want to feel my pulses?
There are 12 pulse positions on each wrist that your acupuncturist will palpate. Each position corresponds to a specific meridian and organ. Your acupuncturist will be looking for 27 individual qualities that reflect overall health. If there are any problems, they may appear in the pulse.
What can affect Qi?
Many things influence the quality, quantity and balance of Qi. Physical and emotional trauma, stress, lack of exercise, overexertion, seasonal changes, diet, accidents or excessive activity can lead to a blockage or imbalance of Qi. Normally, when this imbalance occurs, the body naturally bounces back, returning to a balanced state of health and well-being. When the disruption to Qi is prolonged or excessive, or if the body is in a weakened state, then illness, pain or disease can set in.
Why have acupuncture?
Acupuncture is effective because it aims to treat both the symptoms and the causes underneath. In this way it will look at the cause of the headache rather than just providing pain relief in order to cure the problem rather than suppress the symptoms. It can treat conditions which are not easily explained in western medicine. Approaching a condition from this different Eastern perspective can often find other solutions to the problem that western medicine cannot. Acupuncture can also provide treatment without the side effects that many drugs can induce.
What happens during an acupuncture treatment?
Many people may be unfamiliar with what exactly takes place in an acupuncture session. Wondering what happens during treatment, how many visits may be needed and whether health insurance covers it are all common concerns. In a typical first visit, a practitioner will take a detailed health history, fully investigate your chief complaint and provide acupuncture for you. This may take up to an hour but is necessary to create an individualised treatment plan that takes into account your present physical, emotional, and nutritional condition, while focusing on your main health concern. Return visits to an acupuncturist may also introduce the option of Chinese herbal, or nutritional therapy. Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles (the width of two human hairs) into specific anatomical points. Chinese herbal therapy or nutritional therapy reinforces acupuncture in a natural way without side-effects. The two are often used together to strengthen the effects of treatment and to achieve longer-lasting results in a shorter amount of time.
Does it hurt?
Acupuncture in general is not painful. The needles are extremely thin (about the width of 2 human hairs), solid, disposable and flexible. Sensations that patients normally experience are a dull ache or tingling which is associated with the movement of energy stimulated by the insertion of the needles. This is a desired affect and should not feel painful.
What Can I Expect During a Session?
During the initial visit we discuss your medical history, take a careful look at your dietary habits, and perform a physical examination. The physical examination consists of checking your pulse on your wrists, looking at the tongue and performing diagnostic palpations around the abdomen, neck region or areas of complaint. Additionally, we might check points on your feet or hands to see if there is any pressure pain. Palpation offers further insights into the exact nature of your situation. The resulting treatment plan consists of acupuncture, and we may suggest custom-tailored herbal medicine, nutritional changes, and stress reduction techniques. In addition, we might give you homework such as pressing certain points that have proven helpful during the treatment.
Why do they want to look at my tongue?
The tongue is a map of the body. It reflects the general health of the organs and meridians. Your acupuncturist will look at the color, shape, cracks and coating on your tongue.
How Long Do The Visits Last?
The initial visit includes your full health history, examination, an acupuncture treatment, and herbal formulas (if necessary) and can last anywhere from 1 ½ to 2 hours. During the initial visit we also take a close look at your diet and will give you insights how your diet might impact your condition. We will assist you in making recommendations that help to build your body’s system. Follow-up visits usually last about one hour to one hour and 15 minutes.
In addition to needles we may use cupping for your specific health problems. Cupping involves the placement of suction cups usually on your back to help to regulate your Qi.