Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic medicine that originated in China about 5000 years ago and is now widely practiced worldwide.
Acupuncture is based on the concept of qi (pronounced "chee"), which is our energy and life force. Qi flows through our bodies in meridians and is in every living thing. Acupuncture works to balance the flow of qi in order to facilitate the body to heal itself.
Acupuncture works on several different levels. It is a very complex system based on acupuncture points and meridians, organs, seasons, and many other components.
Acupuncture meridians are well-defined pathways that conduct the flow of qi, or bioelectric energy. Acupuncture points are locations on the meridians where qi comes to the surface, making it easily accessible. Acupuncture treatment uses thin, sterile needles, which are inserted into carefully selected acupuncture points along the meridians of the body. This stimulates the flow of energy and removes blockages so that qi can be dispersed and regulated. When qi is flowing properly throughout the body, balance is restored and improved health results. The treatment plan may also include herbal medicine, bodywork and nutrition.
The Western View
When thin acupuncture needles are applied through the skin, it signals the circulatory, nervous, lymphatic, endocrine and immune systems. These are the crucial processes involved in order for the body to heal. Our bodies work as a dynamic electrical system, constantly relaying messages. The body strives to maintain a healthy homeostasis. When it is out of balance, it works to re-establish this homeostasis. Acupuncture facilitates this process. Acupuncture also stimulates endorphins, which decrease pain and increase a sense of well-being.
What can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is a holistic medicine, meaning that it views the body as an interconnected system. Therefore, it can be used to treat almost any condition and can also be used as a preventative measure.
Acupuncture is used to treat:
Pain and injury
Arthritis and fibromyalgia
Women's health conditions
Immune system support
Addictions/Recovery (smoking, alcohol, drugs)
In addition to acupuncture, your treatment plan may also include electro-acupuncture, moxabustion, herbal formulas, nutritional advice or massage. Or you may be referred to another health care provider if necessary.
What happens during my acupuncture office visit?
The first time you come in we will discuss your primary concerns and your health history. We will discuss your primary reason for seeking acupuncture and your overall health such as your sleep patterns, emotional health and digestion. Your pulse will be taken on both wrists and your tongue will be examined, which helps assess your health using traditional Chinese diagnostic methods.
With this information a diagnosis will be developed based on TCM. Then we will develop a treatment plan, which will include acupuncture treatment and possibly herbs, nutrition advice, bodywork and/or lifestyle advice.
Other techniques that may be used include electro-acupuncture (similar to TENS), cupping, moxabustion, ear acupuncture, and infrared heat. Your acupuncturist will always explain the use of any treatment method.
Your treatment will always focus on your primary concerns, but because TCM is a holistic medicine, your entire health profile will be taken into account.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is very safe. Only sterile, disposable needles are used. Acupuncture licensure requires completion of the "Clean Needle Technique" exam and training in sterile technique. There are virtually no side effects.
Is acupuncture effective?
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective for thousands of years in China and throughout the world. Acupuncture has also been shown to be effective in many studies published in academic journals. Acupuncture is accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to treat a variety of conditions.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Usually not. Acupuncture needles are very thin, sterile, stainless steel, disposable, and about the diameter of a human hair. When they are inserted the patient usually feels a tingling or a dull sensation that dissipates. Sometimes you will feel a momentary sharp sensation. However, everyone is different in their sensitivity to the needles. Some people feel them more than others. Following treatments it is common for the patient to feel a sense of relaxation, and/or enhanced energy.
Are there side effects?
There are no unpleasant side effects from acupuncture treatment. It will also not interfere with any other medical treatment you may be receiving. Acupuncture can actually enhance other medical treatments by addressing side effects from other treatments or medications and by helping the body to heal even further. Occasionally, you will get a minor bruise or feel slightly light-headed.
When can I expect results?
This is a somewhat difficult question to answer. It depends on a variety of factors including how long you have had a condition, your age and overall health, and the type of condition we are addressing. As a very rough estimate you should allow at least eight weekly visits to give us an idea about how it will help you. However, some patients see results after only one visit. It also depends on your compliance with the treatment plan.
Some conditions may be alleviated very rapidly. However, some conditions will be relieved only with slow, steady progress. Each person responds differently. As a general rule, the longer you have had a condition, the longer it takes to heal.
Is there a religious or spiritual affiliation with acupuncture or Chinese medicine?
No. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that is not affiliated with any religious or spiritual practice.