Acupuncture treatments use thin, stainless steel needles to stimulate points on the surface of the body. These acupuncture points are located along numerous channels or pathways, where energy or Qi circulates in the body. Qi, thought to nourish internal organs and tissues, can alter neural impulses that travel through the body to elicit beneficial responses. By stimulating acupuncture points with specific functions and indications, acupuncturists are able to promote and balance the flow of Qi, relieve pain, reduce stress and restore health.
Research at the University of California at Irvine suggests that acupuncture appears to alter sensory information to the brain and inhibit neural impulses associated with pain and stimulate the release of endorphins and enkephalins, the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals. Acupuncture can affect parts of the central nervous system to balance hormones (e.g. estrogen, progesterone, and serotonin), improve immune function, and normalize blood pressure.
What conditions can acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treat?
According to the World Health Organization, the following conditions have shown that acupuncture can be beneficial either through a controlled trial or when a therapeutic outcome can be demonstrated:
- Pain (many types)
- Allergic rhinitis
- Nausea and vomiting (morning sickness)
- Hypertension, hypotension
- Induction of labor
- Fetal malposition (breech)
Other commonly treated conditions include:
- Pain – Lower back, neck, sciatica, etc.
- Women’s Health – PMS, painful menstruation, menopause, infertility, support for
assisted reproductive therapies (artificial insemination, intra-uterine insemination,
in vitro fertilization)
- GI conditions – constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux
- Anti-aging – facial rejuvenation acupuncture treatment
- Neuro-psychiatric conditions – stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia
What to expect at your first acupuncture visit?
During your first office visit, the practitioner will review your medical history at length and ask about your medical history, current health condition, diet, and lifestyle. The practitioner will perform a physical exam which includes Traditional Chinese Medicine pulse and tongue diagnostic exam. Based on the physical exam, the practitioner will determine which acupuncture points to use. Once the needles are placed in the appropriate places, the patient is left to rest and relax for 25 minutes. Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed.
Do the needles hurt and where are they placed?
People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no pain or minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Very fine, hair-thin (36 gauge) disposable needles are used. If at anytime a patient experiences discomfort, the needle will be adjusted or removed. The needles are superficially inserted and are placed distal or local to the problem area.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments depends on the type of condition and its duration. For acute problems, a few treatments are usually required. For chronic conditions, one to two treatments per week may be needed until the condition has reached a certain level of improvement and a positive response has been experienced. For wellness and preventative care, one treatment each season may be recommended.
Are there any side effects to acupuncture?
Typically there are no or minimal side effects. Occasionally the original symptoms may worsen the first 24-48 hours after treatment. This is an indication that the acupuncture treatment is starting to work. Also, it is common for patients to feel a sensation of deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately after the treatment. These feelings will pass within a short time and can be alleviated by rest.