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, we have channels of energy, known as Qi that run throughout the body called meridians. These meridians allow our Qi to nourish organs and tissues. If these meridians become obstructed or deficient, then our Qi is unable to move freely leading to dysfunction and imbalance of the body. Placing acupuncture needles at specific points along these meridians we can help restore balance by removing obstructions or improving deficiencies.
From a Western medicine point of view, acupuncture has been shown to stimulate various systems in the body including the nervous system which would release chemicals that can alter our perception of pain or lead to subsequent release of other chemicals. This, in turn helps to restore the body’s natural regulatory system. This includes, but are not limited to:
- 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.
The acupuncture needles used are small, thin, and sterile. They are placed at specific points on the body and left in for 30 minutes. The needles are discarded after use to prevent the risk of infection. Generally, the insertion of the needles do not cause any pain. However, you may experience a tingling sensation or a mild dull ache that quickly goes away. These sensations are normal. During the treatment, most people will feel relaxed and sometimes fall asleep. Once your treatment is finished, you may continue to feel relaxed or you may have an increase in energy.
Many naturopathic physicians are trained in acupuncture and may be used in conjunction with other therapies such as cupping or gua sha.
What is Cupping?
Cupping originated in China. It utilizes cups to create a suction on the body in order to draw blood to the area. This allows movement of blood through the tissues resulting in waste and toxin removal. Fresh oxygen and nutrients flood the area to help heal adn restore function to muscles and tissue.
Cupping is generally used to relieve muscle pain and stiffness to improve circulation. The cups may either be kept in place or moved across the surface of the body. Oil is applied to the areas where the cups are moved to. It is commone to have a non-painful bruise-like appearance on the skin that can last up to several days.
What is Gua Sha?
Gua Sha is similar to cupping. However, where Cupping uses cups, a flat stone is used in Gua Sha. The stone is used to scrape across the surface of the skin in order to bring blood to the area, remove waste, and allow for fresh oxygen and nutrients to flood the area. Gua Shais also excellent to help with muscle pain and stiffness.