What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a system of medicine developed in China over 3000 years ago. Also included in TCM is cupping, moxibustion, dietary therapy, meditation and tuina (a type of massage). These therapies work with the vital energy of the body to promote the body’s ability to heal itself. Today, over two million people worldwide use acupuncture for primary health care or complementary medicine.
How does acupuncture work?
One of the primary principles of TCM is Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is the energy or vital force that flows through the body in particular pathways or channels and regulates the body’s functions. It is influenced by two opposing forces: Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang represent the positive and negative within the body, both of which are necessary to maintain health. Acupuncture helps to maintain or restore balance to Yin and Yang within the body, which allows for the normal flow of Qi. When Qi is abundant and free flowing, health is optimal. When there is a depletion or obstruction in the flow of Qi, pain and illness arises.
In ancient China, it was discovered that the pathways along which Qi flows communicate with the surface of the body at specific locations, called acupuncture points. There are over 2000 acupuncture points on the human body. Very small, sterile needles can be used to help restore the flow of Qi and bring Yin and Yang into balance. Research has shown that acupuncture can decrease pain and inflammation, aid in healing and decrease stress.
How can Acupuncture help?
The efficacy of acupuncture using controlled clinical studies has been well documented since the 1970’s. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for over 200 conditions, including:
· Pelvic pain
· Interstitial cystitis
· Premenstrual cramps
· Back and neck pain
· Gas and bloating
· Abdominal pain
· Headaches and migraines
· Sinus congestion
· Menopausal symptoms
· Smoking cessation
It works very well in combination with other therapies that your doctor may recommend for your well-being.
What can be expected from an acupuncture treatment?
The initial visit is a comprehensive and extensive interview, which includes personal history as well as a physical examination. The doctor works with patients to understand the underlying causes of disease and develops an individualized treatment plan that addresses the person as whole being.
Several conditions may be immediately alleviated by an acupuncture treatment, others may involve ongoing treatments. Acupuncture has a cumulative effect with each treatment building on the changes from the previous session.
How does acupuncture feel?
Acupuncture needles are solid, hair-thin and cause minimal discomfort. Usually made from stainless steel, they are sterile, and disposed after one use. Common sensations that can be felt at the point of needle insertion that signals the presence of Qi include: a dull ache, heaviness or pressure, sense of warmth or a tingling sensation. Most people find acupuncture treatments to be a deeply relaxing experience.