Acupuncture: 8 Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient Healing Art that comes to us from China, Japan and other Asian countries. Endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), and traditionally a preventive medicine, it continues to be used by over one third of the world’s population as a primary form of medicine. Acupuncture works well with other forms of medicine, including Western medicine.

2. How does Acupuncture work?

Acupuncture balances a person’s life energy, or Qi (pronounces “Chee”). Everything in us – all physical and non-physical (i.e mental, emotional) processes depend on the presence of Qi, and Qi is present in all living things. This life energy, Qi, circulates throughout the body in channels, called Meridians. Treatment is based on the premise that health is maintained by a free flow of Qi. A block in this flow may cause disease much like a blocked coronary artery may cause heart disease. Illness and symptoms are associated with some imbalance in the flow of Qi and are considered the body’s cry for help. Lightly touching the Qi energy with acupuncture needles is like opening a gate or releasing congested areas, allowing the energy to once again circulate freely thereby restoring health.

3. What is Acupuncture effective for?

Acupuncture can be effective for a range of conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Respiratory, Digestive and Circulatory conditions;
  • Menstrual, Reproductive and Menopausal problems;
  • Neuro-muscular disorders;
  • Addictions;
  • Anxiety, Depression, Trauma and other psychological problems;
  • Insomnia;

Acupuncture also strengthens the Immune System, provides relief from chronic conditions, and promotes overall well-being, personal growth and inner core strength. A variety of people of all ages have found Acupuncture to be effective where other forms of treatment have been unsuccessful. Because Acupuncture treats the whole person, people often report an overall improvement of health in addition to improvement in the condition they originally sought treatment for.

4. What can I expect from an Acupuncture Treatment?

Most individual Acupuncture Treatments last about one hour. During your first session you can expect to have a detailed history taken, and a detailed check-in during subsequent sessions. The acupuncturist will keep a confidential chart in which she tracks your progress. You may ask any questions you like about the treatment or the acupuncturist herself.

Before the actual treatment, the practitioner will feel your pulses to help her in determining the best course of treatment. She will also feel your pulses after inserting needles and at the end of the treatment.

She will then insert several very fine, sterile, disposable, stainless steel needles into different point in your body – called acupuncture points. Some of these needles will stay in place for a time, others will be removed immediately, depending upon your symptom and your pulses. You may be asked to rest with needles in place for 10-15 minutes. Some people will feel improvement in their condition immediately, for others it may take some time – either way is normal and cannot be predicted in advance of treatment.

5. Who practices Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is practiced by a Licensed Acupuncturist (lic.Ac.) who usually has a master’s level training. The profession is regulated by the same medical boards that regulate Physicians.

6. How often should I get an Acupuncture Treatment?

This depends on your reasons for coming to Acupuncture.

If you would simply like to experience relaxation, a decrease in stress-induced symptoms such an overactive mind, worrying, muscle tension, disturbed sleep etc – you are very likely to notice improvement in these symptoms from just one session. This can be especially helpful at the beginning of your vacation as it allows you to leave behind your regular life for the time being and take full advantage of your time off. If, on the other hand, you are experiencing more serious conditions, more intensive and/or more regular treatments are called for.

Any sort of painful musculo-skeletal condition responds well to 2-4 treatments, scheduled closely together, say every day or every other day. More chronic conditions respond best to 2-3 sessions scheduled closely together, followed by regular treatments, say every 2-6 weeks, depending on the condition.

7. What health practices can I do myself to make an Acupuncture Treatment more effective?

I suggest that you do the following:

· Drink at least 2-3 quarts of plain (and warm, not iced) water each day between meals – you can work up to that over the next few weeks – as this helps to settle the treatments.
· Engage in some form of regular exercise and vary it.
· Be sure you get some period of quiet time every day, such as contemplation, journaling, meditation – it can be brief.
· Keep your coffee consumption to a minimum – caffeinated teas are fine.
· Drink 1-3 cups of green tea daily – steeped for at least 5 minutes.

8. Are there any Side Effects to Acupuncture?

There are very few side effects to Acupuncture, especially when compared to medications or surgery. Sometimes people will experience very minimal and short-lives pain or aching; you might get a bit light-headed (it’s important to have recently eaten something before getting acupuncture) and at times there may be a bit of bruising. It is also important to note that you may experience what is termed a Healing Crisis – whereby there may be an initial, very short-lived aggravation of your symptoms, lasting up to a few hours, followed by marked improvement. Healing Crises are a relatively common, but generally not a cause for concern.

9. What About Auricular Acupuncture?

Auricular (Ear) Acupuncture is a separate system of acupuncture. Some acupuncturists practice only this type of acupuncture.

Auricular Acupuncture is most effective for conditions like Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Addictions, and Allergies. At Cabot Shores, may be incorporated into an individual Acupuncture session. Auricular Acupuncture is often provided in a group setting, and for mental conditions and addictions it can be more effective this way. Provided in a group setting, it is highly cost-effective as well as community-building. Groups such as Community Mental Health Centers, Veterans Groups, Detox Centers often employ this form of acupuncture.

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