How does Acupuncture work?
We know from thousands of years of experience that Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine work. However, more recent western medical explanations of Acupuncture are emerging. In simple terms, Acupuncture relieves pain, decreases inflammation, promotes blood flow, balances the nervous system, modulates hormones and restores the body’s ability to heal naturally.
The Eastern explanation for how Acupuncture works is that the life energy flowing though the body which is called Qi (pronounced chee) can be influenced and balanced by stimulating specific points on the body.
These points are located along channels of energy known as meridians, that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.
What Acupuncture Can Treat
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are extremely successful in the treatment of pain and a multitude of other conditions. Many people try Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine as a “last resort” to serious and complex medical problems and find that it can help them when other treatments could not.
Acupuncture is also often used as a preventative medicine. Many people see their acupuncturist only 2-4 times a year for a “tune up” or “balancing” treatment. This can prevent disease and promote health, energy and vitality.
Your acupuncturist will have to look at the onset of your condition and see what your constitutional diagnosis is to determine if Oriental Medicine can help you. Each case is unique and it would be difficult to determine how effective acupuncture will be for you without a full assessment.
What problems are commonly treated with Acupuncture?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete medical system that is capable of diagnosing and successfully treating a wide range of conditions including:
(This is by no means a complete list of what Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat.)
Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat Disorders
- Sore Throat
- Hay Fever
- Nerve Deafness
- Ringing in the Ears
- Poor Eyesight
- High Blood Pressure
- Angina Pectoris
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Spastic colon
- Food Allergies
- Abdominal Bloating & Pain
Gynecological / Genitourinary Disorders
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Irregular, Heavy or Painful Menstruation
- Chronic Bladder Infection
- Complications in Pregnancy
- Morning Sickness
- Kidney Stones
- Infertility in Men and Women
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Chronic Fatigue
- HIV and AIDS
- Epstein Barr Virus
- Smoking Cessation
Emotional and Psychological Disorders
Musculoskeletal/Neurological Disorders and Pain
- Back Pain
- Stiff Neck
- Bell’s Palsy
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Headaches and Migraines
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscle Spasms
- Colds and Flus
Acupuncture Also Treats
- Chemotherapy/Radiation Side Effects and Pain
- Dermatological Disorders
- Weight Control
How many treatments will I need?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary from person to person depending on the conditions being treated, your age and health, and how you respond to acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a natural medicine that is assisting your body to make changes. This can be a gradual process. A consultation with an experienced practitioner about you and your condition will offer the best guide for the length of treatment. Generally, acute problems require less time and frequency of treatment. For example, an acute sprain and associated pain may require only one or two treatments, whereas more chronic or severe ailments may require several (or several dozen) treatments.
How long will it take for the treatments to work?
A positive response to acupuncture treatments is generally seen after the first to fourth treatment. If you are being treated for a menstrual problem or infertility, give the treatments three menstrual cycles for your body to respond. You will schedule your appointments further and further apart after you have achieved optimal response.
How often should I be treated?
Again, this depends on what you are being treated for. It is common for treatments to be scheduled one or two times a week in the beginning to obtain optimal response and then once every other week. If you are not able to schedule appointments that frequently, Chinese herbs, dietary changes, exercises or pressure points may be prescribed for you to use at home. Acupuncture is also often used as a preventative medicine. Many people see their acupuncturist only 2-4 times a year for a “tune up” or “balancing” treatment. This can prevent disease and promote health, energy and vitality.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture needles are 25-50 times thinner than a hypodermic needle. They are so thin that several acupuncture needles can go into the middle of a hypodermic needle. There is little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. While some people feel nothing at all; others experience a brief moment of discomfort as the needle penetrates the skin that can be followed by a mild sensation of tingling, numbness, traveling warmth, or heaviness. The needles are left in place for twenty to thirty minutes. Most people find the experience extremely relaxing and uplifting and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment.
If you are sensitive to acupuncture or ‘needle-phobic’ your acupuncturist can use thinner needles and be gentler. Be sure to speak up and let the practitioner know how you are feeling!
What are some other treatment techniques besides needle insertion?
Electro-Acupuncture is the use of small electrical currents through the acupuncture needles. Electro-stimulation is often used in conjunction with acupuncture to enhance a treatment. Electro-acupuncture has been proven to decrease pain, accelerate tissue healing, and significantly reduce inflammation, edema and swelling.
Moxibustion is a technique in which a Chinese herb called mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris is used to apply heat to an acupuncture point. It is used to treat certain debilitating conditions as well as arthritis and pain. Moxa is usually rolled into a stick the size of a cigar, lit, and held over specific areas of the body. Moxa can also be placed onto the handle of an acupuncture needle, allowing deeper penetration of heat.
Cupping is a technique where a glass or plastic cup is suctioned onto the body and allowed to sit for about ten minutes. This technique stimulates circulation, relieves swelling, and greatly enhances an acupuncture or Electro-acupuncture treatment. Cupping is used for many conditions including; back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, common colds and influenza.About Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese Herbal Medicine:
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine consists of 5,767 substances derived from plant, animal, and mineral sources. The use of these substances can be traced back to 1,000 BC. Over the past 3000 years, an incredibly rich and powerful system has medicine has been created. During this time, classical herbal formulas that are effective for many health concerns have been developed. The herbs are available in the form of herbal teas, liquid extracts, tablets, capsules, granules, lotions, creams, salves, or poultices. They treat most medical conditions including acute and chronic pain.
What is a Chinese Herbal Formula?
Individual substances are rarely prescribed alone in Traditional Chinese Medicine. A carefully balanced recipe of several different herbs is specifically tailored for each person’s entire health condition. Each herb is chosen for its own specific functions. In addition, herbs can enhance the strengths and reduce the side effects of each other. The combination of substances in a formula creates a new therapeutic agent that can treat much more effectively and completely that a single substance.
What is the difference between Western Herbs and Chinese Herbs?
Western Herbal Medicine tends to use one or two herbs to treat just a specific symptom. A Chinese Herbal formula has as many as 20 different herbs. The herbs are selected to work synergistically to treat the whole person. In Chinese medicine, due to our diagnostic system, we are able to assess a persons whole constitution (the health of their whole body) and treat the root (or cause) of a health concern along with a branch (or the symptoms) of a health concern. It is in this way that we are able to treat a person’s whole body and mind, rather than just a symptom.
Safety of Chinese Herbs
One of the most appealing qualities of Chinese Herbal Medicine is the low risk of adverse reaction or side effects. Herbal medicine uses all the constituents of the plant, including the cellulose. The herb is completely balanced, and therefore has minimal side effects.The most commonly reported adverse reaction is minor gastrointestinal upset. Modifying the herbal formula or adding herbs to strengthen the digestive system can remedy this. If you do notice any side effects, please stop taking your herbs and consult your herbalist right away.