Should I try Acupuncture?
-- By Erica Sastre LMT & Rochelle Shaeffer L.A.c, LMT
A: YES! Acupuncture is a wonderful modern modality with ancient roots.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese Medicine, where fine needles are inserted at certain points in the body (called acupoints.)
Are the needles safe? Is there a chance of infection?
All needles are sterilized solid stainless steel, and once used, are properly disposed of. The practice of acupuncture is completely sanitary and safe.
Does it hurt?
The needles are expertly and quickly inserted into the skin and and superficial fascia. Most people do not feel much when the needles are applied.
While the needles are inserted you might feel the muscle ‘jump’ or ‘let go'. This would be the desired effect to relax the muscle. This is known as fasciculation or "Da Qi". It is a small, local, involuntary muscle contraction and relaxation which may be visible under the skin. Fasiculation may also happen as the needles are being removed, you may feel the skin 'pull' on the needles, and afterwards the area or muscle will feel released and refreshed. During the treatment it is best to relax, listen to the music, breath deeply, and feel the tension and stress leaving the mind and body.
There are different styles of acupuncture such as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Five Element, and Meridian or Japanese style. Our Acupuncturist, Rochelle, has been trained extensively in both TCM and Japanese Style.
Japanese style uses finer needles with a shallow insertion and very little to no manipulation. Rochelle will customize your treatment on an individual basis depending on many factors.
Where does Acupuncture come from?
Earliest documentation comes from The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine dating from about 100 B.C.E. Acupuncture then developed more extensively over the next few centuries. It was implemented and supported by the use of massage, diet, herbs, and moxibustion.
Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a system of medicine that dates back thousands of years in development and practice. Other types of TCM treatments you may have heard of include Tai Chi, Tiu Na, Qi Gong, Chinese Herbal Medicine, AMMA Therapy, along with many others.
What can Acupuncture treat?
TCM is considered a whole medicinal system, and is designed to address any complaint the patient might have be it physical, emotional, or energetic. This is unlike western medicine, where conditions are treated separately and practitioners compartmentalize disease processes. TCM can be a great compliment to western medicine, addressing the more abstruse parts of our health and giving us a sense of interconnectedness.
People seek acupuncture treatment for pain management (both chronic and acute pain conditions), athletic performance, relaxation, fertility, mood disorders, to aid in recovery from injuries, surgeries, and so much more.
You can ask the acupuncturist to address as much or little as you like. In the consult the acupuncturist will take time to hear out your concerns, create a treatment specific to you. No two treatments are alike.
Needles going into my skin can treat tendinitis, headaches, and anxiety? That sounds a little… magical… What is the science behind Acupuncture?
Acupuncture and other alternative medicines are currently facing scrutiny in western cultures. Though this scrutiny has propelled an ever increasing number of scientific studies to further validate there efficacy. We are happy to report that studies on Acupuncture are supporting what TMC practitioners have been saying all along.
Research supports that acupuncture can…
Why are they asking to look at my tongue?
Tongue diagnosis is a tool in TCM for thousands of years. The texture and color of your tongue are indicators for the practitioner. They also might do pulse diagnosis, inspect your posture, and other tests to evaluate your health and energy.
Can you explain a little bit of the theory?
TCM sees the human body not just of physical parts, but of energetic parts. Energy moves through the body in meridian channels. It comes down to balancing our Yin and Yang, balancing our five elements (Fire, Water, Metal, Wood, Earth), balancing our meridian pathways that this energy moves within (Lung, Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Heart, Spleen, Stomach, Gallbladder, Liver, Kidney, Bladder, Pericardium, Triple Burner). By unlocking these pathways and balancing this energy, we become balanced and experience good health and a feeling of wellness. This is comparable to the concept of homeostasis in western medicine, which is the aim of all treatments. To bring the patient to optimal health and happiness.
That seems very complex, who are acupuncturists? What is their training? Can anyone be an acupuncturist?
TCM is very complex. This is why acupuncturists must go through years of training to receive a Master of Science in Chinese Medicine (which includes Chinese Herbology.)
I said I had a headache, why is she putting needles in my feet?
Needles may be inserted in to distal points on the meridians to affect problems along any area of the meridian. For instance, a needle might be put in the are of the hand or thumb for a headache. The needle will affect the whole meridian.
This is not an unfamiliar concept in the world of chiropractic and bodywork! When we talk about trigger points, pain referral, compensatory pain or symptoms, we are referring to situations where the source of pain and the problem are not the same.
Feel free to ask your acupuncturist questions about their method or reasoning if you are curious, it is best to keep an open mind, relax, and see how you feel after the treatment.
Who gets acupuncture?
LOTS of people receive acupuncture, from all backgrounds, professions, and countries all over the world. Don’t believe me? Here are some examples of celebrities that have used acupuncture…
Will I know it works after one treatment?
Acupuncture works best over time. Most people do feel relaxed or euphoric after just one acupuncture treatment, but, especially if you are new to acupuncture, try 4-6 treatments, at least once a week, to see if the treatment and acupuncturist are right for you
Do you have more questions?
Talk to your acupuncturist! Call, email, or text us more acupuncture questions. We will answer them and your question may be featured in next week’s Q&A!
Sources, further reading, and interesting links:
Evidence Based Acupuncture --- A comprehensive list of Acupuncture Studies
Qui Blog --- An article on tongue diagnosis
Celebrities who use Acupuncture
New York Times, Athletes who use Acupuncture
1/13/2020 08:04:50 pm
I like that you mention acupuncture can help a number of items such as improving sleep, decrease anxiety, and easing depression. My boyfriend has been struggling with depression for quite a while and nothing has really helped. I think that acupuncture could be a good way to treat his depression since therapy and medications haven't been working.
1/27/2020 02:49:04 pm
Thank you so much for explaining that all needles are disposed of once they're used so your needles will be clean and sterile. That's important to my husband because he's kind of a germaphobe. I'll be sure to tell him that it's clean and safe. He'll be relieved to know.
5/29/2020 09:34:17 am
It's amazing what acupuncture can rid you of. Although it's not listed here, it also helps people overcome addiction too!
8/11/2020 03:55:55 pm
It was interesting when you talked about how the source of pain is not necessary the same as where the problem is. My husband gets headaches at least three times a week and is considering trying acupuncture to see if it could help reduce the frequency. I appreciate you sharing this info so he can get a better idea of what to expect if he decides to get acupuncture treatment!
8/29/2022 07:22:34 pm
I didn't know that acupuncture could help with anxiety. Would that work on pets? I'll have to consider getting a vet to try it out on my bugle.
9/26/2022 04:17:14 pm
My wife and I have been under a lot of stress, and we think it's affecting our fertility since we've been trying to get pregnant without success over the past months. It's interesting to know how acupuncture reduces stress and muscular pain, so we think it wouldn't hurt to try it next week. Thank you for describing how acupuncture could treat different conditions.
10/16/2022 01:09:24 am
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