Acupuncture and moxibustion are important components of traditional Chinese medicine. They are used to prevent and treat disease by puncturing certain points on the body with very fine sterile disposable needles. When appropriate, the needles are further stimulated through manual manipulation, heat with ignited moxa wool or electrical stimulation with gentle electrical impulses. Of marked efficacy and requiring but simple equipment, they have been widely popular in China and elsewhere for thousands of years.
The use of acupuncture in managing acute and chronic pain and its use in place of, or in conjunction with, chemical anesthetics in surgery is becoming commonly known in North America. But the ancient Chinese medical practices of acupuncture and moxibustion have been used for at least 5,000 years, not only for pain control, but also in the prevention and treatment of a broad range of diseases and for maintenance of general health and enhancement of stamina.
Acupuncture is a unique therapeutic method that treats disease by puncturing certain points of the human body with different types of metal needles and promoting smooth circulation of the meridian and adjusting Qi and blood by stimulating the points and meridians.
Chinese medicine delineates 14 meridians in the human body, called the conceptual channels, and numerous associated collateral branches. These meridians and their branches constitute a network that interconnects all the tissues and organs of the body. Twelve of the 14 meridians are associated with 12 specific organs and the meridians can be classified as Yin or Yang in nature.
A key idea in Chinese medicine is that of Qi. This invisible force manifests in the human body as an energy flow, which circulates to all parts of the body through the meridians and supports the body’s vital activities. According to the theory of Chinese medicine, the equilibrium of bodily functions is maintained through a balance of Yin and Yang, two life forces with opposing natures (Yin being passive and receptive, Yang being positive and active). Any imbalance between these two forces in the human body causes an obstruction of Qi flow in the meridians. And whenever the Qi flow is interrupted a pain or illness results. The chief aim of Chinese medicine is to restore the balance between Yin and Yang in the body, thus restoring the smooth flow of Qi in the meridians.
There are 361 acupuncture points distributed along the 14 meridians and all these points can be used to treat disorders of the related organs. Disorders generated from or associated with a specific meridian have characteristic manifestations. After diagnosing an illness and determining the meridians involved, the doctor selects appropriate acupuncture points to form an acupuncture prescription. Determining the correct combination of points is very important, and manipulation of the needles to achieve the desired effects requires a studied skill.
There are many reasons one may use acupuncture. An acupuncturist may be consulted by patients with specific symptoms or conditions, such as pain, anxiety, arthritis, eczema, sports injuries, hay fever, asthma, migraine, high blood pressure, menstrual disorders, intestinal problems, or pregnancy management and delivery.
While extensive practice and research have shown that acupuncture is effective in helping people with such conditions as well as with many others, it does more than simply relieve symptoms. The aim of acupuncture is to treat the whole patient and to restore the balance between the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the individual.
In traditional acupuncture, since an illness is considered as the result of an imbalance of energy, treatment can benefit almost any ill person as long as the degenerative process in the tissues of the body is not too extensive.
Many people also have acupuncture as a preventative treatment or when they feel unwell in themselves but are not ‘ill’ in the Western sense. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems including:
- Digestive disorders: gastritis, hyperacidity, chronic duodenal ulcer(pain relief), spastic bowel, constipation, and diarrhea.
- Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, bronchitis, and asthma.
- Neurological and muscular disorders: headaches, migraine, insomnia, neck and back pain, trigeminal neuralgia, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, tendinitis, sciatica, arthritis, facial palsy, pareses following a stroke.
- Urinary, menstrual and reproductive disorders.
- Addiction (drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and obesity).
- Motor vehicle accident injuries
In treating any illness or affliction, a correct diagnosis is important before any decisions are made regarding therapy. Once the diagnosis is established, a qualified practitioner can advise whether acupuncture is appropriate.
One of the most striking aspects of acupuncture is the almost complete absence of adverse effects and complications from its use. Most patients find that the treatments are relaxing and cause minimal discomfort.
However, there are still precautions to take. People with pacemakers should avoid electrical stimulation unless approved by their cardiologist. Women in early pregnancy and hemophiliacs should be treated with caution.
All needles used in the process are sterile disposable needles, so it prevents any risk of infection. In particular, there is no possibility of transmission of AIDS or hepatitis viruses when sterile disposable needles are used.
The patient usually feels a sensation similar to a mosquito bite when the very fine needle (about as thick as a human hair) is inserted into the skin at rapid speed. Most patients feel only minimal discomfort as the needle is inserted, some feel no pain at all. During an acupuncture treatment, needles are either inserted for a second or two or left in place for up to 20 to 30 minutes depending on the effect required. Some complex feelings such as soreness, distention, or numbness will be generated at the acupuncture point when the needle is manipulated. This indicates that the patient is responding to the treatment.
The number of treatments will vary with each individual and for the condition being treated. For many acute problems, 2-3 treatments will suffice. For chronic diseases, treatment generally takes longer – usually weeks or months. Depending on the nature and length of the illness, the frequency of treatment also varies, from 2-3 treatments per week to 1 treatment per month. Additionally, the patient’s general health and individual differences among patients can affect the length and frequency of treatment.
After an acupuncture treatment, relief may be immediate or may occur within a few hours, or after a few days. In some conditions, several sessions may be required before improvement is noticed. 80-90% of patients respond well to acupuncture with noticeable improvement. Acupuncture may be used as the only form of therapy or it may be combined successfully with other forms of medical or physical therapy.
If there are no changes after a few treatments, that means that either the input used isn’t appropriate for the condition, or the condition isn’t responsive to acupuncture. In that case, we’ll perform a full re-evaluation of the condition and the input, then provide a few more treatments accordingly. If no progress is made after 6-8 treatments (to a maximum of 12 sessions), the condition is unlikely to respond to acupuncture and treatment should be discontinued.
The effects of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are usually long-lasting because Chinese medicine aims at getting beyond the symptoms to the root cause of an illness and restoring the balance of the body as well as mobilizing the body’s own potential to overcome illness.
For painful conditions, avoid strenuous activity for 48 hours after treatment. Ideally, alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes should be avoided for at least 2 hours. Medication, as directed by your physician, may be taken as required.
We use Chinese Herbal Medicine in conjunction with acupuncture to deliver an encompassing treatment.
Physical benefits include reduced muscle tension, improved circulation, stimulation of the lymphatic system, increased joint mobility and flexibility, improved skin tone, and improved recovery of soft tissue injuries.
Mental benefits include, an immediate benefit is the feeling of deep relaxation and calm. This is due to the release of endorphins, producing feelings of well-being. Reduced level of stress hormones, which can help prevent impairment of the immune system and reduced anxiety and depression. Also, there is heightened mental alertness.
We also offer a medicinal foot bath to accompany our reflexology.