What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points shown as effective in the treatment of specific health problems. These points have been mapped by the Chinese over a period of two thousand years. Recently, electromagnetic research has confirmed their locations. Western medical researchers that have studied acupuncture believe acupuncture reduces pain through the body chemicals opioid peptides that provide a calming effects, or by affecting glands such as the hypothalamus that produce substances hormones which regulate the body.
How long has acupuncture been around?
Acupuncture is one of mankind’s oldest treatments, dating back 4,000 years in China. The treatment was first introduced to the general American public in a 1972 article in The New York Times. According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey--the largest and most comprehensive survey of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by American adults to date; an estimated 8.2 million U.S. adults had ever used acupuncture, and an estimated 2.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.
How does acupuncture work?
How exactly acupuncture works depends on who you ask. It has become accepted within the medical community that the human body is a complex, integrated system that is usually best treated the body as a whole. For example, giving a patient medicine for a stomach ulcer may alleviate the pain symptoms, but it’s not a cure for the cause, which could be stress. Your outlook and emotions, physical self, and spirit all play a part in your health.
Acupuncture accomplishes this rebalancing by the insertion of fine, hair-thin needles into the body at specific points. Biochemical and neurological research has shown that the technique works by signaling the centers in the brain that control systems and organ functions.
Similarly, acupuncture has also been shown to have the effect of stimulating and strengthening the body’s immune system and organ function by just such a feedback mechanism. Acupuncture affects the levels of glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and hormones in the blood. It balances gastrointestinal, endocrine and nervous system function in the body. Acupuncture can also improve circulation and reduce inflammation.
Is acupuncture safe?
Yes, acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in China. Acupuncture is the treatment of choice for one-fourth of the world’s population!
Do you reuse needles?
No, the needles are pre-sterilized, disposed after one single use. After the needles are extracted they are put in a medical sharps container. When the container is full, professionals come and dispose of the needles properly.
Does it hurt?
If your practitioner has obtained the correct stimulus of the needle, the patient should feel some cramping, numbness, distention, tingling, or electric sensation either around the needle or traveling up or down the affected meridian. Some Western cultures may categorize these sensations as types of pain. In any case, if you experience any discomfort, it is usually mild and temporary.
How should I prepare?
Relax. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Eat a small, healthy snack prior to the treatment. Share even the most “insignificant” symptoms with the doctor, as these can provide valuable insight into the evaluation of your health profile. Look forward to being well.
Will acupuncture conflict with my other medications?
Acupuncture will not conflict with any of your medications. Acupuncture is used to complement and supplement your physician’s treatments not to replace them. You should discuss this issue with your physician and acupuncturist.
How many treatments will I need?
It is impossible to predict up front how quickly your body will respond to acupuncture. We must wait until you have had your first treatment, and according to your body respond, we may have a better idea. Since every person is unique in their own condition, the numbers of treatments will vary. The nature, severity and history of each patient’s problem, as well as the individual himself or herself, are all factors that are involved in how many treatments will be necessary.
One course of treatment is typically considered to be ten treatments. This ideally is scheduled in close succession, usually 2-3 treatments per week at beginning, then fall to 1 treatment per week. Although some patients respond favorably after only one or two treatments for an acute condition, some may not improve until the eighth or ninth visit. In general, acute conditions require less treatment than chronic conditions as they are usually of recent onset rather than a long-standing condition.
What can I expect after treatment?
Patients often experience the most dramatic results in the first treatment. Some patients experience an immediate total or partial relief of their pain or other symptoms. This relief may last or some pain may return. In a few cases, there may be no immediate relief only to notice the pain diminish over the next couple of days. Generally, you should expect to feel better.
Research & Resources
All links will open in a new browser window
The A - Z of what we see in Clinic
When you find the condition you are looking for more information about, click on it to open a PDF file containing a summary of the latest peer review research by the British Acupuncture Council.