What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a method used to promote the body’s natural healing abilities and improve functioning. It has been used in China for over 2,500 years.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, we have channels of energy that run throughout the body called meridians. The energy or Qi travels along these meridians to nourish organs and tissues.
If these meridians become obstructed, then the energy or Qi becomes blocked leading to dysfunction and imbalance of energy throughout the body.
By using acupuncture needles at specific points along these energy channels we can stimulate energy and unlock these obstructions restoring balance and energy in the body.
From a Western medicine point of view, acupuncture has been shown to stimulate the nervous system and release chemicals in the body.
These chemicals can alter our perception of pain or lead to the release of other chemicals to help restore the body’s natural regulatory system.
What Conditions Can Acupuncture Treat?
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for many conditions. Some examples include:- Acute and chronic muscle and joint pain- Asthma and allergies- Digestive issues including heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea- Headaches and migraines- Anxiety, depression, stress and irritability – Sleep disorders and insomnia- Menstrual disorders and infertility
What can I expect for my first acupuncture visit?
During your first visit, the physician will discuss your main concerns, the symptoms you are experiencing and may perform a brief physical exam.
The doctor may also look at your tongue and feel your pulse as part of the Chinese diagnosis.
Depending on the condition treated, you may be lying face-up or face-down in a relaxed position.
Acupuncture needles will be placed at specific points to treat the condition and left in for 20 to 30 minutes.
The lights will be dimmed and gentle music played to allow you to relax completely and absorb the benefits of the treatment.
The acupuncture needles used are sterile and discarded after use to prevent the risk of infection.
They are extremely small and thin and generally do not cause any pain.
You may experience a sensation tinging around the needle or a mild dull ache, this is normal and is your body’s energy or Qi being stimulated at that point.
Generally, most people feel relaxed and sometimes fall asleep during the treatment. Following your treatment, you may continue in a relaxed state or you may have an increase in your energy.
Many Naturopathic physicians are trained in acupuncture and may use this therapy in conjunction with other therapies to improve health and well-being. Your acupuncture treatment may also be combined with cupping or gua sha.
Cupping and Gua Sha
Cupping is another technique originating from China that uses cups to create suction on the body. By creating suction on the skin’s surface blood is drawn to the surface.
The movement of blood through the tissues allows for waste and toxins to be removed and for fresh oxygen and nutrients to flood the area to heal and restore function to muscles and tissues.
Cupping is generally used to relieve muscle pain and stiffness and to improve circulation.
Cupping is either done stationary where the cups are kept in one spot on the body or used in a technique called running cupping where oil is applied and the cups are moved across the surface of the body.
Since cups are creating a suction technique and moving blood in and out of the tissues it is common to have a red or purple bruise-like appearance on the skin that can last up to several days.
The cupping marks are not painful but may feel like a deep tissue massage.
Gua Sha is another technique similar to cupping where a flat stone is used to scrape the surface of the skin bringing blood flow to the surface, removing waste and flooding tissue with fresh oxygen and nutrients.
Gua Sha is an excellent technique to help with muscle pain and stiffness.