Frequently Asked Questions
- What is acupuncture?
- What is TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine)?
- Does acupuncture really work?
- What are the needles like?
- Is acupuncture painful?
- Is acupuncture safe?
- How many treatments will I need?
- How should I prepare?
- What can I expect?
- Why do they want to look at my tongue?
- Why do they want to feel my pulse?
- Can I combine acupuncture and Western medicine?
- What is Moxibustion?
- What is TDP Heat therapy?
- What is Acupressure and Tuina massage?
- What is Cupping?
Through thousands of years of practice, acupuncture has evolved into a complete medical system that can diagnose, treat, and prevent illness. It is a safe, effective, and painless way to treat a wide variety of conditions.
Acupuncture is based on an energetic model that encourages your body's natural healing abilities. This health care system strengthens and improves overall function, enhances recuperative power and immunity, and so as to enable you to regain and keep physical and emotional health. The function of acupuncture is to ensure a continuous flow of vital life energy, called Qi.
Qi circulates in human body through specific pathways called Meridians. When life-giving Qi flows smoothly through meridian pathways, it will nourish every cell, organ and tissue in your body. But if Qi becomes “backed up” in somewhere of your body, the Qi flowing to other areas will be restricted. Hindering the flow of Qi circulating within your meridian pathways can lead to pain and illness.
An acupuncturist will then place fine, sterile needles at specific acupoints along your meridian pathways. The safe and painless insertion of the needle unblocks the damming or obstruction of your meridians. Releasing this blockage allows the Qi to freely circulate, eliminating pain and restoring the body's ability to heal itself.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has formed a unique system to diagnose and cure illness for thousands of years since ancient China. This natural healing system has four distinct divisions: acupuncture, herbology, TuiNa (Chinese massage), and food cures. Some TCM remedial exercises like qi-gong, and tai-ji can also be of benefits to patients.
TCM views our health in a holistic fashion. TCM applies the yin - yang principle of interconnection and continuous transformation to the human body to explain its physiology and pathology and further to guide clinical diagnosis and treatment the body. In the theories of TCM, a root cause for occurrence and development of a disease is imbalance between yin and yang.
A doctor of TCM diagnoses a patient by four clinical examinations: observing, listening and smelling, interviewing and pulse-taking. Once an illness is diagnosed, the doctor will prescribe a treatment that will focus on restoring the balance of the body's yin - yang . Treatment such as acupuncture, herbal medicine or exercises may be used. A doctor of TCM will care for the entire person, both of the physical and the mental aspects.
About one-quarter of the world's population are choosing TCM as an alternative medical care service.
Coupled with modern medicine, acupuncture has the ability to be an effective treatment for a variety of health conditions. Studies have been conducted to discover the physiology behind acupuncture and its capabilities and limits in treating patients. Here are the current theories regarding the mechanisms behind acupuncture:
1) Neurotransmitter Theory - Acupuncture stimulates areas in the brain, causing the secretion of beta-endorphins and encephalon in the brain and spinal cord. The immune system and antiociceptive system is affect by the release of neurotransmitters.
2) Autonomic Nervous System Theory - Acupuncture causes the release of nor epinephrine, acetylcholine, and types of opioids, causing changes in their turn-over rate, normalizing the autonomic nervous system and reducing pain.
3) Gate Control Theory - Acupuncture inhibits the transmission of nociceptive signals in the dorsal horn, reducing pain.
4) Vascular-interstitial Theory - Acupunture enhances the electrical system body, helping to heal by assisting electrical energy to pass through healthy and injured tissue.
5)Blood Chemistry Theory - Acupuncture affects concentration of triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids in the blood, with the ability to increase and decrease these concentrations.
This ancient health care system is proving itself as an effective choice for a variety of problems. The National Institute of Health agrees that "acupuncture may be a reasonable option for a number of clinical conditions" and goes they go on further to say that "One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions. As an example, musculoskeletal conditions, such as fibromyalgia, myofacial pain and tennis elbow, or epicondylitis, are conditions for which acupuncture may be beneficial. These painful conditions are often treated with, among other things, anti-inflammatory medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) or with steroid injections. Both medical interventions have a potential for deleterious side effects but are still widely used and are considered acceptable treatments. The evidence supporting these therapies is no better than that for acupuncture." - National Institute of Health Consensus Conference of Acupunture, Program & Abstrats (Bethesda, MD, November 3-5, 1997)
Many patients are often worried that the needles will be painful. Unlike needles used for injection, acupuncture needles are solid and are extremely fine with a sharp point. The needles come in different sizes, 0.25mm x 40mm, 0.18mm x 25mm, 0.16mm x 13mm, for example. Similar to most practitioners, we use disposable needles.
Acupuncture is not painful. During initial insertion, you may feel a minor tingling until the needle reaches the correct location under the skin. Sometime a brief sensation of heat is felt momentarily. In most cases, patients do not even know the needles are being inserted.
Acupuncture is very safe. It is absolutely drug-free; thus, there are no side effects except feeling relaxed after the procedure. The skin is treated with alcohol and disposable sterile needles are used, so there is little danger of infection.
The number of treatments that a patient will require depends on a variety of factors, the severity and duration of your problem, your current health, and your overall quality and quantity of Qi. Your acupuncturist may suggest one or two treatments per week for several weeks, or monthly visits over time for health maintenance, seasonal "tune ups", or preventative medicine.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions when you come to the clinic. Your acupuncturist is there to help you.
- Wear loose and comfortable clothing so your acupuncturist can have easy access to acupuncture points.
- Keep your routine diet. Do not come after and especially large meal, nor should you come in hungry.
- Do not overexert yourself after the treatment or use drugs or alcohol up to 6 hours after the treatment.
- Try to keep relaxed after your treatment. Do not stress yourself. Plenty of rest and a warm bath or shower is helpful.
- Make note of any changes that occur in your body between visits. Alleviation of pain or movement of pain to another area should be noted. Any information will assist your acupuncturist.
At your first visit, a full health history will be taken. Diagnosis will begin with questions regarding your health and lifestyle and any other information that is pertinent. The acupuncturist will then check your pulses and look at your tongue and also conduct a physical exam. All this information is used to form a diagnosis based on the theories and philosophies of Chinese medicine. While you are being treated, you generally either feel a sense of deep relaxation or be immensely energized. When the needle is inserted, you may feel numbness or tingling. Some say that they feel energy (also known as Qi) spread from the point of insertion. All of these are signs that the treatment is working.
The tongue tells many things about your body. It can reflect your general health as well as the health of your organs and meridians. The acupuncturist will examine the colour, shape and coating.
An acupuncturist will want to feel 12 main spots on your wrist. Each spot corresponds to an organ an meridian system. There are 27 different pulse qualities that your acupuncturist will be looking for. These 27 qualities will reflect your balance of Qi and any imbalances will appear in your pulse.
Acupuncture, herbs and acupressure treatment can be combined with Western internal medicine, osteopathic, chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy or massage. However, it is advisable that patients who are undergoing herbs treatment take their herbal medicine at different times of the day than their conventional medicine. With the approval of the patient's doctor and traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, a acupunture patient can generally reduce their use of Western medicine as their health improves.
This is also known as heat therapy. This technique involves burning a roll of a herb called moxa, above the acupuncture point. Sometimes a slice of ginger root or some salt is directly place on the treatment area, depending on the patient. This is a deep penetrating treatment and is very effective in treating weakness and sensitivity to cold.
TDP is a warm apparatus that looks like a lamp. It functions to promote metabolism, balancing some physiological disorders, and reducing inflammation and pain. It is used in almost all hospitals in China and more and more in Europe. When used in TCM, it strengthens the effects of acupuncture.
Acupressure is an ancient Asian technique that involves using the fingers to press key points on the skin, causing the body's immune system to heal itself. Acupressure is very relaxing and promotes the release of endorphins that help ease pain. It focuses on the same points on the body as acupuncture, but without needles. Acupressure is a good way reduce tension and increase circulation, improving health and resistance to sickness. Tuina, a different term for acupressure, is essentially the same as accupressure and directly translates to "push grasp."
Cupping involves attaching jars to the skin to treat pain and other disorders. It causes local congestion through negative pressure. The jars are placed along specific meridians or around the pain area. It promotes the flow of Qi, while warming, dispelling cold dampness and helping with swelling and pain. Cupping is usually used to treat Bi syndrome caused by wind dampness, such as pain of the lower back, shoulders, legs, and gastrointestinal disorders such as stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhea and lung afflictions such as cough and asthma.