How does acupuncture work?

 

There are many theories that suggest how acupuncture might work. Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests that acupuncture promotes the free-flow of Qi, or energy, which creates a balancing and harmonizing effect within the body-mind complex. 

Modern scientific research has shown acupuncture to have specific biological effects:

  • Acupuncture promotes the release of endorphins, which are pain-blocking biochemical.

  • Acupuncture influences the cellular matrix of connective tissue

  • Functional MRI studies have shown acupuncture to stimulate regions of the brain that correlate to the treated acupoints.

  • Acupuncture activates the parasympathetic nervous system to move the body into a balanced state known as homeostasis.

Are acupuncture needles safe? Do they hurt?

 

One of the most striking aspects of acupuncture is the almost complete absence of adverse effects and complications from its use. Most patients find that practitioners are properly trained and follow appropriate techniques.

In our practice, we use only pre-sterilized, pre-packaged and disposable needles. Each needle is used only once and disposed of in a sharps bio-hazard container after use. Acupuncture needles are much thinner than standard hypodermic needles used by phlebotomists. Most needles aren’t much thicker than a couple of human hairs! And many clients hardly feel the needle insertions at all. It is essentially a painless experience, and it is not stressful, even for people who dislike needles.

What will I feel with the needles?

 

Patients during the treatment may feel a sensation which we call the “De Qi” sensation – the arrival of energy to the point, or the needling response. The sensations a patient can experience with the needles may be numbness, tingling, distension, heaviness, warmth, or a radiating feeling. All of these sensations are considered desirable sensations in terms of the treatment – often they show us that we’ve achieved the response we want from the body. Any sensations tend to dissipate within a few seconds, leaving the patient in a very calm state – so much so they often fall asleep! Most people who come in, even those who are scared of needles, find that acupuncture is a comfortable, relaxing, and enjoyable experience.

What should I expect at my first visit?

 

At your first visit, the acupuncturist will conduct a thorough intake evaluation asking questions specific to your main complaint as well as many questions relevant to your overall health. Based on this initial intake, a diagnosis and treatment strategy will be formulated to specifically address your individual needs. On your first visit, you can expect to receive around 30 minutes acupuncture treatment during your hour and a half.

Is there anything I should do before or after an acupuncture treatment?

 

Before treatment, I like to tell patients to have something light to eat, so they are neither too full or too hungry. Having acupuncture on an empty stomach could make you feel lightheaded or fatigued after, so it’s best to eat within a few hours before your treatment.

Try to plan your appointment so that you avoid doing anything too stressful or strenuous afterward, we encourage patients to take it as easy as possible after treatment. This time is for you and your body to relax and heal, and it’s important to carry that forward throughout the rest of your day! After your treatment, patients tend to feel what we called “Acu-dazed”, or more jokingly “Acu-stoned” – a blissful state of deep relaxation or euphoria, and many people find that this also results in them having a wonderful sleep that night! Use this post-treatment daze to take an enjoyable walk, a warm bath, or simply rest to allow your body to fully absorb the physical and emotional healing that acupuncture has set in motion.

It is also important to drink plenty of water and eat a healthy, well-balanced meal following acupuncture treatment. Remember that food is medicine for your body, and try to follow the advice given to you during your treatment regarding which foods will help nourish and promote healing.

How many acupuncture sessions will I require?

 

This can be a difficult question to answer, as there is no “one size fits all” in acupuncture. With each patient, I will come up with a unique, individual, and holistic treatment plan based on your symptoms and health history.

For a loose guideline based on my own clinical experience, patients with acute conditions (something severe and sudden in onset) may only require 3-6 treatments to heal, whereas chronic conditions (long-developing symptoms) may take longer. I tend to find that many patients find that acupuncture benefits them in some way almost immediately, and many feel things such as a reduction in pain, stress-relief, increased energy, and better sleep after only a few treatments! It is important to note that every person is different, and acupuncture is such a great medicine as it takes this into consideration.

To take the most out of your treatments, try your best to follow the treatment plan given to you. The benefits of acupuncture will accumulate when treatments are done more frequently – such as once to twice a week for the first few weeks. This will lead to longer-lasting results and patients will find that they experience relief of their symptoms more quickly. After we start seeing positive results, treatments can then be more spaced apart.

Which health conditions can acupuncture treat?

 

The use of acupuncture has been shown to effectively treat many types of conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a report where has been identified as specific conditions that have been treated effectively with acupuncture and TCM. Some of these are listed below.

Please note that there are plenty of additional conditions in which centuries of empirical data have shown acupuncture treats effectively but for which there is little or no modern western research. If you have questions about a condition not listed below, be sure to contact us so we can address your specific situation.​​

  • Addiction

  • Allergies

  • Anxiety

  • Arthritis

  • Asthma

  • Cold & Flu

  • Cough

  • Constipation

  • Depression

  • Diarrhea

  • Facial paralysis

  • Fatigue

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Frozen Shoulder

  • Gastritis

  • Headache

  • Indigestion

  • Infertility

  • Immune Disorder

  • Insomnia

  • Low Back pain

  • Menstrual problem

  • Menopause

  • Muscle pain

  • Nauseas

  • Osteoarthritis

  • PMS

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Sciatica

  • Skin conditions

  • Sport Injuries

  • Stress

  • Tendinitis

  • TMJD

  • Urination disorder

Can I receive acupuncture when I am pregnant?

 

Acupuncture is safe during pregnancy and can help relieve many pregnancy and postpartum conditions. Because there are some acupuncture points that are contraindicated during pregnancy it is important to inform the practitioner if you are pregnant.  We highly recommend acupuncture during your first trimester to help assist, embryo development, prevent miscarriage, and address any other symptoms as morning sickness that may arise.

Is acupuncture covered by insurance?

 

Many insurance plans offer coverage for acupuncture treatment. Contact your insurance company directly to find out if your plan covers acupuncture and any limits to the number of treatments its covers. 

Acupuncture services are not covered by OHIP yet.