Acupuncture – Questions, Answers, More…


Sanyinjiao (Sp-6) - 3 Yin channels meet - great energy point for women

Sanyinjiao (Sp-6)  – 3 Yin channels converge to create the  classic blood and enegyy strengthening point


Acupuncture helps remove the various ‘cofactors’ that bring about blockage in the body’s energetic system – restoring ease and health. Before the ‘10,000’ (in Chinese meaning limitless) possible symptoms can take root and be named as ‘illnesses’ – acupuncture uproots these renegade factors by ‘reminding’ the body of its inherent energetic wholeness. This is a ‘tuning up’ process that effectively clears illness before it gets established.

And so, many people rely on acupuncture as their main preventative health strategy – having sessions on a timely basis to prevent illness, reduce stress, and keep further medical needs to a minimum.

How does acupuncture work?

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is one of the oldest medical practices, and some evidence suggests that it dates as far back as 5,000 years. The ancient Chinese developed this unique medical system through careful and diligent study of the body, mind, emotions, spirit, and the natural world around them. This system is based on the idea that pathways of energy, or “qi”, run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These channels are called meridians and they flow like rivers through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up, creating imbalance and pain. Energy can also become depleted as a result of stress, overwork, chronic illness, etc., and this may cause the water in the stream to dry up and eventually stop flowing.

Acupuncture needles are used as conductors, and when placed in specific areas that have increased conductivity, they can tap into the various energy pathways to correct imbalances and clear blockages. Acupuncture works with the body’s innate ability to heal itself; once pathways have been unblocked, the body’s natural healing response can take place. Every individual is made up of a unique combination of constitution, health history, family, environment, diet, emotions, beliefs, thought patterns and so on, therefore every treatment is specifically tailored to you as a whole being.

Aside from acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine may also include massage, moxibustion (heat therapy with the herb Artemesia), herbal formulas, nutrition and lifestyle recommendations.

What should I expect from my first acupuncture treatment?

The first treatment is my opportunity to get to know you better; I will complete a detailed intake in order to learn more about your symptoms and how they many be interrelated. Even the smallest detail may shed light on the root cause of your condition. In addition to listening, my other diagnostic tools are observation and palpating the body, particularly the pulse. We have time for questions and explanations, especially if it is your first experience with acupuncture. When you are comfortable, I will insert the needles and then allow you to relax for about 20 to 30 minutes.

What can Acupuncture treat?

Really – almost anything that responds to the balancing effect of the treatment.

Often people come in with one or two conditions – for example low back pain and/or insomnia – and find that the treatments help a whole host of associated ‘problems’ that they weren’t even expecting it to treat!

Its almost like if they came in for a headache – its not so much that ‘the headache’ is gone, as that they might feel like something has shifted in themselves where they are a different kind of person who just doesn’t have a headache – as their emotional state has also shifted. On many people it has a powerful effect on a whole host of conditions – but the usual response for this question you’ll find on webpages over the years is as follows:

The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for many disorders, including the following:

* Gynecological disorders, such as irregular or heavy periods, infertility, PMS, post-partum recovery, and menopausal symptoms.

* Muscular/skeletal disorders, such as acute or chronic pain, whiplash, lower back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, and arthritis pain.

* Hypertension and migraines.

* Anxiety, depression, insomnia and other mood disorders.

* Gastrointestinal disorders, such as chronic constipation or diarrhea, colitis, indigestion, gastritis, and irritable bowel syndrome.

* Urogenital disorders, such as chronic urinary tract infections or incontinence.

* Respiratory disorders, such as allergies, asthma, bronchitis, and sinusitis.

* Addictions, such as cigarette smoking

Does acupuncture hurt?

Because every person is made up of such a complex array of life experiences, it is no wonder that people feel and respond to needling in very different ways. The typical description includes feeling a slight pinch or pressure, which is then accompanied by warmth, tingling, or a heavy sensation at the site of the needle. Many people experience a deep sense of release and relaxation during and at the end of the treatment.

 Is acupuncture safe?

The needles are all sterile, pre-packaged and used one time only. The needles are hair-fine, with a solid center unlike the hollow hypodermic needles used to take blood. There is usually no marking on the skin after the needles are removed.

And acupuncture is generally free of side-effects – as practitioners we learn precautions to take as for following depth and placement of the needles. In fact – acupuncture can feel a lot less intrusive than modalities such as some forms of chiropractic manipulation or massage – as bones and tendons are not needing to be moved quickly or with pressure.

Are different practitioners different – how do I assess them?

Yes – and often its the person more than the ‘school’ they have learned from. A dedicated practitioner should have a lot of innate good qualities. Of course they should have the proper schooling and licensing, and be continuing their studies and training.

There are different schools of acupuncture – “Shanghai” modern TCM style, , 5 Element – which can be Korean-style or European Worsley style, Japanese style, NAET kinesiology approaches, etc….. Japanese-style can imply doing very different kinds of diagnosis (like abdominal palpation) or just the use of thinner needles. All schools in Asia acknowledge China as being the originator. So in Japan or Korea the doctors often say they do “Chinese medicine”. Historically there have been nearly countless methods and ‘schools’. In this culture many new practitioners have to find their own way – some are trying community acupuncture settings or being in hospitals (where they are really needed!) And there are still a few (in major cities mostly) following their family lineage which is unlike much of what’s taught in modern TCM colleges.

If you are in a town filled with practitioners and can’t decide who to see – start by asking friends, or maybe ask at the local health food store who they’ve heard is good. Experience counts but even more personal connection. Try to talk to them on the phone or meet them in person and see if its a good ‘fit’, and if the clinic feels like the right place. Assess if they’ve helped people with conditions similar to yours.  The first treatment or two should resolve into a relaxing experience, and ideally you should feel optimistic and uplifted about continuing.