Q: What is acupuncture?
A: Acupuncture is a key component of Oriental Medicine, a comprehensive health care system more than 5,000 years old. It is made up of 5 main components—acupuncture, herbal medicine, Oriental massage, nutrition, and exercises called qigong. Your treatment may consist of one or more of these components, depending on your condition.
The placement of filiform needles (needles that are hair-thin) is the primary way of doing acupuncture, although there are other ways as well.
Q: Is acupuncture painful?
A: No. Most of the time, the insertion of a needle creates an initial sensation on a spectrum from gentle pressure to mild pinching. Occasionally some acupuncture points may be sensitive. At other times the patient feels nothing at all. If there is any sensation, it usually disappears within seconds after the needle is placed.
Q: Is it safe?
A: Acupuncture is very safe. In this clinic, we only use sterile disposable needles.
Q: How does acupuncture work?
A: Oriental Medicine is based on a bio-energetic model of the body. In the West, we often think of energy as being chemical, mechanical or on the electromagnetic spectrum. When thinking about the energy—the qi—that we access in acupuncture, think of life force instead. We aren’t going to use qi directly to turn on a light bulb or drive a car’s engine. Instead, there are channels (meridians) in the body in which the qi flows to regulate the body’s functions. Any imbalance in the qi may cause illness sooner or later. Acupuncture needles are used to influence the qi in the meridians and their corresponding organs to bring about balance. Herbs, nutrition, qigong exercise, and oriental massage also help restore balance. By these means we address symptoms and help cure and prevent disease.
Q: What can acupuncture treat?
A: In 2003 the World Health Organization published a book, Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials, listing all the known indications (diseases and conditions) that can be successfully treated with acupuncture as demonstrated by Western science up to that date. This can be an excellent way to think about acupuncture and how well it works.
Another way is more traditional: for more than 5,000 years Oriental Medicine, including acupuncture, has been the main type of medical treatment for a significant part of the world’s population. Acupuncture may not always be as quick and effective as a pharmaceutical may be, although at other times it might. Oriental Medicine is significantly different from Western medicine in its approach to the imbalances that lead to ill health, but its purpose is the same—to aid in bringing about healing and health. Acupuncture has significant advantages in many situations. Its side-effect profile is very low, and its efficacy can be quite high. For millennia it has been the internal medicine of the East. So while many in the US think of acupuncture as being limited to treatment of muscle soreness, back pain and other musculoskeletal complaints, it can also be very effective in a large range of illnesses.
Acupuncture can treat:
Respiratory: acute sinusitis, rhinitis, colds and other acute respiratory viruses, bronchitis, asthma.
Eyes: acute conjunctivitis, cataracts.
Mouth: toothache, gingivitis, acute and chronic pharyngitis (sore throat)
Digestive: acute and chronic gastritis, duodenal ulcer, colitis, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, nausea, dysentery, gastric hyperacidity.
Neurological: headache, migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, facial palsy, paralysis following stroke, Meniere’s disease, concussion and its after-effects
Musculoskeletal: frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, sciatica, low back pain, osteoarthritis
If something is out of balance, acupuncture may be a great way to help recover balance.