Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine sterile needles into specific points on the surface of the body called “acupoints”. All needles are sterilized, single use, disposable.
The practice of acupuncture is based on the theory of meridians. Qi (vital energy) and Blood circulate in the body through a system of channels called meridians, connecting internal organs with external organs or tissues. Disruption of the flow of Qi results in pain and illness. In acupuncture, the needles are inserted at specific acupoints to shunt Qi to those areas where it is deficient and to drain Qi in areas where it is in excess. The needles are retained for 15 to 30 minutes. Acupuncture treatments may include auxiliary methods such as cupping, guasha (scraping), moxibustion, electro-acupuncture, tui na massage, and ear seeds depending on individual needs.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture needles are extremely fine and cause very little pain when inserted. However, acupuncture does result in a unique local sensation that varies from person to person. This sensation is known as the “arrival of Qi” and has been described as a feeling of soreness, distension, heaviness, tingling, numbness, tightening around the needle, warmth, coolness, muscular spasm, or small electric shock. Although occasionally slightly uncomfortable, these sensations are mild in intensity and usually only last an instant.
How many treatments are needed?
Treatment protocols, frequency and duration depend on the nature of the condition being treated. Acute injury or illness generally requires frequent treatments for a shorter amount of time whereas chronic conditions generally require long-term treatment which may be infrequent.
Acupuncture has a cumulative effect. Through implementing exercise, lifestyle and dietary recommendations, patients are encouraged to take an active role in their healing process.
What can acupuncture and TCM treat?
In North America, acupuncture is best known for its success in the treatment of pain. However, there are many more conditions in internal medicine, gynecology, dermatology, and pediatrics which were classically treated with TCM.
Acupuncture is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be effective in the treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions. Here is a list of these health concerns (click to open). If your condition does not appear on this list, or if you are unsure if Acupuncture or TCM is right for you, call 250-551-9279 to discuss the issue with Dr. Ellissa Crête.
Needles may be activated by electrical stimulation, a procedure known as electro-acupuncture. The electrodes are clipped onto the needle handles and the needling manipulations are attained through varying frequencies and voltages. Electro-acupuncture is commonly used in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain.
Fire cupping involves the application of rounded glass cups to bare skin. A flame is used to create the negative pressure necessary for suction. This suction causes the skin to be sucked partway into the cup.
The cups are left in place for a short period or moved around in a gliding motion on the skin. Cupping increases local blood circulation and releases the myofascial tissue to relieve pain. Cupping is usually combined with Acupuncture or Tui Na Massage. It is helpful for pain (shoulder, back, leg), muscle aches, colds and coughs, stomachache, diarrhea, stress, and anxiety. Cupping can leave bruises on the skin which usually disappear within a week.
Moxibustion is the process of stimulating acupuncture points with heat by burning dry mugwort leaves (Artemisia vulgaris) above specific acupoints. The purpose of this process is to expel cold and damp, warm Qi and Blood in the meridians, and encourage good circulation. Moxa is available in a loose form that can be used for making moxa cones. Direct moxa involves burning a small cone directly on the skin at the acupuncture point. Alternatively, moxa is packed and rolled in a long cigar-shaped stick. Indirect moxa involves lighting one end of a moxa stick and holding it over the desired acupoint until the patient feels heat. In modern TCM clinics, carbonized moxa sticks (smokeless moxa) are often used because they produce less smoke. Needle-warming moxibustion combines needling and moxibustion by attaching a moxa stub to an inserted needle. The moxa smolders and creates heat that travels down the needle. This technique is useful for pain such as chronic rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis.
TUI NA MASSAGE
Tui Na is Chinese therapeutic massage. Literally, the word means “pushing (tui) and grabbing (na)”. Tui Na is a hands-on bodywork treatment based on TCM principles in which manipulations may be gentle or quite firm. Tui Na has an effect both at a physical level on soft tissues and joints and at an energetic level on the flow of Qi in the meridians. Techniques include an array of movements such as pressure on acupoints with hands or elbows as well as range of motion, traction, rolling, rubbing, sweeping, plucking, chopping, percussion, and shaking. It is not necessary that the patient completely undress to receive a Tui Na treatment. Some Tui Na manipulations are performed on clothing while other techniques are performed on bare skin and include the use of oils. Tui Na is helpful for acute or chronic musculoskeletal conditions as well as internal medicine conditions such as headaches, digestive disorders, and many other conditions.
For needle-sensitive patients, Tui Na is an option for a completely needle-free acupressure treatment. In TCM, Tui Na can be an effective alternative to acupuncture needles in treating children. According to the patient’s needs, Cupping can be included in Tui Na treatments. Tui Na can also be complementary to Acupuncture treatments especially for musculoskeletal pain. The treatment which includes Acupuncture and Tui Na combines the precision of needles with the sensitive touch of therapeutic bodywork to provide deep relief.
Tuning Forks are lightweight sound healing tools which are used in acupressure techniques. When activated, the vibration of the tuning fork is easily directed on the body, and in the energetic field around the body. Thus, tuning forks are able to engage the Qi in the meridian system. The sound waves created by the tuning forks work like kinetic energy to move disharmony and tension from the physical body, and to help restore a sense of emotional balance and well-being. For needle-sensitive patients, the non-invasive nature of a tuning fork is an effective alternative for a completely needle-free treatment. Acupressure through Tuning Forks can also be combined with Acupuncture including only a few thin needles with very gentle insertions.
CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE
Herbal Medicine is a major pillar of Chinese Medicine, and a perfect complement to Acupuncture. Acupuncture treats the surface or “yang” aspect of the body through the meridian system. Herbs are taken into the body to have a direct effect on the internal organs or “yin” aspect. Chinese Herbal Medicine incorporates ingredients from all parts of plants, including the roots, leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits, as well as ingredients from animals and minerals.
During a TCM Herbal Consult, the practitioner spends time gathering the information required to form a personalized TCM syndrome diagnosis. Herbs are selected according to TCM principles and work synergistically to address the patient’s pattern of disharmony.
The unique characteristic of Chinese Herbal Medicine is the degree to which the prescription is tailored according to each individual’s constitution and illness. The herbal prescriptions are usually comprised of a standard classical formula with customized modifications for the individual. Chinese Herbal Medicine can be used to strengthen the body, to prevent illness, or to treat a wide variety of acute and chronic conditions from internal medicine, gynecology, dermatology, and pediatrics. Prescriptions can be filled in the form of raw herbs, concentrated powders, capsules, pills, or tinctures.