Acupuncture is an art and science that is 5,000 years old and which originated in China. It involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body. These points, which are mapped on channels that course throughout the body, hold specific functions.
The goal of acupuncture is to restore the balance of our vital energy, or Qi (pronounced "chee"). Our physical and emotional well being rely on the healthy flow of Qi in the channels. Illness arises when an imbalance in our energy sytem occurs, and our Qi becomes stagnated or blocked. The acupuncturist seeks to restore balance and flow of this subtle but vital form of energy.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that acupuncture has been proven through controlled trials to be an effective treatment for the following conditions:
Adverse reactions to radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy
Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
The World Health Organization has also stated that acupuncture provides a therapeutic effect for the following conditions, although further research is desired:
Alcohol dependence and detoxification
Cholecystitis (inflamed gallbladder)
Closed Craniocerebral Injury (head trauma)
Diabetes Melitus (non-insulin dependent)
Fibromyalgia and fascitis
Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
Hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol levels)
Male sexual dysfunction
Opium, cocaine, and heroin dependency
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Radicular and psuedoradicular pain syndrome
Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
Spine Pain, acute
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD)
Ulcerative Colitis, chronic
Commonly asked questions about acupuncture:
How does acupuncture work?
The truth is, we don't fully understand just how acupuncture works, although research is supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture. It is believed that ancient Chinese theories about the flow of Qi in the channels may perhaps correspond to the flow of blood in blood vessels and electrical impulses transmitted by nerves.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is very safe when administered by a trained and licensed acupuncturist. You should always ask where your acupuncturist trained and for how many years. Your acupuncturist should be certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), which means they passed various rigorous exams focusing on biomedicine, acupuncture and Chinese medical theory.
The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) has created an excellent checklist to help you select a skilled and licensed acupuncturist to ensure your safety: Know Your Acupuncturist. Additionally, all acupuncture needles used at Shen Dao Acupuncture are sterile, individually packaged, and disposable. No needles are ever reused.
How many treatments will I need?
Chinese Medicine evaluates each patient's health individually and so the number of treatments recommended by your acupuncturist will depend on a few factors, including how long you've had the condition, how severe the condition is, and the overall state of your constitutional health. Sometimes one or two treatments is all that is needed for an acute condition. More chronic and longstanding conditions take longer. For most pain conditions, a series of 5-10 treatments is recommended. To accelerate your healing and make the most of your sessions, your acupuncturist may also make dietary recommendations, show you gentle movement exercises (Qi Gong, literally meaning "work your Qi"), recommend relaxation and stress reduction methods, and/or Chinese Herbal medicines. All of these will enhance the results of your session.
Does Acupuncture Hurt? What will it feel like?
Acupuncture needles are quite thin, typically not thicker than a piece of hair. They are not the sort of needles used for delivering an injection or for drawing blood. Most patients do not even feel the needles. The sensation of Qi is generally described as pleasant -- a tingling warmth, a heavy and relaxed feeling, or a feeling of energy pulsing through the channels. Oftentimes patients will even fall asleep during a treatment as they listen to relaxing music and the lights are dimmed. Sometimes we will also use essential oil therapies in assisting the patient in relaxation.
What should I do before my session?
It is recommended that a patient eat a light meal one to two hours before treatment. It is helpful to wear loose and comfortable clothing (sleeves and pants that roll up easily are ideal).
What should I expect after my treatment?
It is typical to feel relaxed, calm, and centered after an acupuncture treatment. Those coming in for pain related conditions may experience immediate relief, or relief may come gradually over the course of a few days (or it may come after a few treatments). Relief may last a few days or longer, depending on your condition and the stage of your healing. The healing process is very individual and varies with each patient. It is important to be patient with your body and the process of healing.
Watch a clip from the inspiring documentary, 9,000 Needles. The award-winning film is the story of competitive bodybuilder, Devin Dearth, who suffered a stroke and traveled with his family to China to be treated with acupuncture and Chinese Medicine: 9,000 Needles Trailer