Traditional Chinese Medicine
What is acupuncture and how does it work?
Acupuncture is one of several therapies used in Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture uses hair-thin, sterile, disposable needles inserted at specific points on the body to subtly influence how the body is functioning. Western science is not yet able to explain in its own terms the mechanism behind acupuncture, but has noted its effects on many of the body’s systems including the neurological, endocrine, respiratory and digestive systems. With advances in imaging technologies, studies have now shown activity in the brain corresponding to the systems being stimulated during an acupuncture treatment.
The Chinese medical model is based on an energetic system (referred to as Qi, pronounced “chee.”) Together with blood, qi flows in a circuit around the body along channels, or meridians- which have been mapped out by hundreds of practitioners over thousands of years. Modern technology has since confirmed the location of these points through electro-magnetic research. Each channel corresponds with an internal organ system. When this circuit is running smoothly, the body is in balance and there is health. However, if there is a disturbance in the circuit, the resulting imbalance may cause a variety of symptoms including pain, digestive upset, insomnia, or any number of ailments. With the insertion of acupuncture needles, the proper flow along the circuit is reestablished, allowing the channels and their corresponding internal organs to return to a balanced state, and the body to normal physiological functioning.
What does Acupuncture feel like?
Acupuncture needles are very thin, flexible and are nothing like the hypodermic needles people are familiar with. There is very little, if any, discomfort during their insertion. Once inserted, people report a variety of sensations including: heaviness at the point of insertion, tingling, warmth, dull aching and/or a drawing sensation. Overall, people feel a deep sense of relaxation, and many even fall asleep during the treatment.
How long does it take to see results? This will vary depending on the nature of the problem and how long it has been present. Typically, if it is a new problem, improvement and/ or resolution may only take a few treatments. If the problem has been around for months or years, a longer course of treatment may be required. It is rare that resolution would be reached in a single treatment. A typical course of treatment usually lasts somewhere between 5 to10 sessions. Your practitioner will be able to discuss reasonable expectations for your particular condition after an evaluation.
Is acupuncture safe?
Yes, when practiced by a Licensed Acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe. The needles used are pre-packaged, sterile and disposable, virtually eliminating any chance of infection. Practitioners undergo 3-4 years of rigorous graduate level training and must pass National and/ or State Board Licensing exams. To find a NCCAOM certified practitioner in your area, go to NACCAOM.org
What does an acupuncture treatment entail?
A treatment will start with a health history and rather extensive questioning about all aspects of the patient’s condition. This is followed by an exam in which the practitioner feels the pulses, examines the tongue and palpates the channels. This gives the practitioner a lot of information about the internal state of the body. The appropriate treatment will then be decided upon for that day. If appropriate, you will receive dietary, herbal and lifestyle recommendations to enhance the effects of your treatments.
How should I prepare for my treatment?
Before receiving treatment, you should have something light to eat. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Do not come under the influence of alcohol, caffeine or recreational drugs.