What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical procedures used in the world today. It involves the insertion of fine needles along body pathways called meridians or channels, in which your body’s qi (pronounced qi) flows Acupuncture stimulates specific points along the meridian to correct any imbalances and restore health.
What is qi?
Qi (pronounced chee) is a Chinese term that can be translated as “vital energy” or “vital substance” that controls bodily functions and animates the body. Qi helps protect the body from pain, illness and disease. A person’s health is influenced by the quality, quantity and balance of qi. Any kind of pain or illness represents an obstruction or imbalance in the normal flow of qi.
What are meridians or channels?
These are the pathways through which qi flows. There are 14 main channels in the body. They cover the entire body, from the top of the head to the tips of the fingers and toes. These channels connect internally to organs, such as the lungs and the large intestine. Acupuncturists use points along these channels where qi is close to the surface. Stimulating these points causes your body to rebalance itself and healing to occur.
What does and acupuncturist do?
On your first visit you will be asked about your general health history as well as your primary complaint. This will provide the acupuncturist with a complete picture of how your body functions. He/she will determine what meridians are involved in the imbalance and choose points to correct the flow qi in those channels. The acupuncturist will insert the needles into these points and invites you to rest peacefully for about 30 minutes. During this time your body makes adjustments to restore health and vitality.
How is the flow of qi disrupted?
Stuck qi is like a traffic jam. Substances the body needs cannot get where they need to go and therefore become unavailable to it. Many things can cause imbalances or obstructions of qi in the body. These include trauma, stress, overexertion, lack of exercise, seasonal changes, poor diet, emotional changes and excessive activity. When the imbalance of qi is extended or in excess, pain and/or illness occur in one or more of the body’s systems. If the body is in a weakened state, illness or pain can occur even more easily.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is an extremely safe form of treatment. Injuries are rare among patients treated by trained professionals. The FDA requires that sterile, nontoxic needles be used and that they be labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only. The most common side effects are mild bruising or a few drops of blood after the needle is removed at the site of insertion. Sometimes you may feel some localized sensation after the treatment. This usually goes away after a few hours. There is a chance that symptoms may be aggravated after a treatment. Though this may not be pleasant, in rare cases it can be part of the healing process.
On very rare occasions people may experience nausea or fainting during the treatment. This is uncommon, and usually happens when someone has not eaten before the treatment. The most commonly reported side effects are all positive ones! Many people experience a reduction in stress and anxiety and an overall sense of well-being after an acupuncture session.
What conditions can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture can be used to treat a number of health problems. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) recognize acupuncture’s effectiveness to treat the following disorders:
Pain: low back pain, sciatica, headache, migraine, shoulder pain, tennis elbow, wrist pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, osteoarthritis, tooth pain, dental pain and trigeminal neuralgia
GI Problems: digestive trouble, nausea, colitis, diarrhea, hiccough, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome and vomiting
Women’s Health: reproductive problems, menopause, PMS, menstrual irregularities, morning sickness, fertility and UTIs
Immune System: sinusitis, rhinitis, bronchitis, tonsillitis, sore throat, pneumonia and common cold
Emotional Health: stress, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), anxiety and depression
Other Disorders: sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, asthma, dizziness, gingivitis, eye problems, incontinence, addictions and smoking cessation
Can I combine acupuncture with other therapies?
Absolutely! Acupuncture often enhances the work that you're doing with other practitioners. For example, if you are being treated for back pain it may be important to get into an exercise and stretching program to maintain good posture and body mechanics to keep the back pain away. When acupuncture is performed before a chiropractic treatment, many chiropractors have an easier time adjusting and the adjustments may hold better. Physical therapy programs also complement acupuncture. It is important to continue taking prescription medications when you first begin having acupuncture. Often people find that they are feeling so much better from their acupuncture treatments they may go back to their doctor to have their medications adjusted.
How can I get the best results from acupuncture?
An acupuncture treatment can be enhanced by doing or avoiding certain activities:
Eat a light meal or snack 30 minutes to 1 hour before the treatment. Avoid coming to a treatment with a stomach that is too full or too empty, after sexual activity, when rushed, or feeling extremely tired
After the treatment take it easy for a few hours so you can assimilate the effect of the acupuncture. Wait at least an hour to eat a full meal or drink alcohol.
While undergoing care you will benefit most by refraining from or reducing the use of caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs.
To achieve faster results you can do a few simple things every day to take care of yourself. You can get enough sleep, practice proper nutrition, participate in light recreational exercise (outdoors if possible), avoid stressful situations, and set aside some time each day for mental and physical relaxation.
Follow any instructions your acupuncturist gives you. This may include but not limited to dietary advice, stretching or meditative exercises, hot or cold therapy, herbal formulas, supplements, moxa application, or self-massage on specific acupressure points.
Be aware that as the energy shifts in your body as a response to acupuncture you may experience different sensations, from euphoria to what is called a healing crisis where symptoms may worsen. You may want to know if what you are experiencing is appropriate for you at the time, so don’t be afraid to call with any questions you may have.
What do I do if I have more questions?
For Questions about what to expect at the first visit and fees, click here. For other questions, please feel free to contact Sarah by phone or e-mail with any questions or concerns.