What is acupuncture ?
Acupuncture is the form of traditional Chinese medicine with the most recognition in the West. It is based on qi (pronounced chee), a vital energy that flows throughout the body. Qi travels along pathways called meridians and helps regulate metabolic functioning in the brain, organs, muscles, bones, nerves, glands, etc.
Acupuncture points are specific points along the meridians. Each point has its own characteristics, which have been documented by practitioners for 1000s of years. Acupuncturists assess for energetic imbalances and focus on the corresponding points to restore the flow of vital energy.
Acupuncture is both a preventive health tool, used to strengthen the body and the mind against illness, and a curative treatment, fostering metabolic, respiratory, digestive and mental balance.
The World Health Organization recognizes over 30 conditions for which acupuncture has been proven to be effective, including hay fever, depression and hypertension, and cites dozens more as being worthy of research.
What can Acupuncture treat ?
Acupuncture – not just for back pain
ulcers, dyspepsia (indigestion), stomach pains, loss of appetite, anorexia,
hiccups, difficulty swallowing, colitis, intestinal disorders, diarrhea, constipation,
bloating, hemorrhoids, gallbladder problems, liver disease, vomiting.
asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, laryngitis, sinuses, rhinitis (runny nose), cough, colds, flu, dyspnea (shortness of breath).
numbness, cold limbs, chills, swelling, edema, hypertension, hypotension.
prostate problems, cystitis, incontinence, difficulty urinating.
vaginitis (vaginal infection, vaginal irritation), painful menstruation, heavy periods, irregular periods, missed periods, menopause, low libido, infertility, impotence, pregnancy problems.
some kinds of hearing loss, tinnitus, ringing ears, Meniere's disease, ear pain.
blurred vision, conjunctivitis (pink eye), some kinds of vision loss, dizziness, cataracts, glaucoma, black spots.
some kinds of paralysis (including hemiplegia), muscular atrophy and muscular dystrophy.
nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, stuttering, nervous tics, phobias, depression, general fatigue, obsessions, nightmares, bulimia, vertigo, tremors, loss of balance.
eczema, herpes zoster, boils, dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, hives, athlete's foot.
hay fever, etc.
arthritis, rheumatism, stiff neck (torticollis, wryneck), neck pain, sciatica, lumbago, muscle pain, headaches, migraines, sports injuries, tennis elbow, cramps, sprains, bursitis, trigeminal neuralgia, facial neuralgia, knee problems.
Other health conditions:
diabetes, arteriosclerosis, cholesterol problems, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, anemia, mononucleosis, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, ataxia, myelitis, fibroids, addiction (e.g., smoking, drugs, alcohol, overeating).
What should I expect during my first visit ?
A typical acupuncture session is usually a relaxing experience for even the most hesitant of patients. It begins with a discussion of appetite, sleeping habits, emotional state, etc. If the link between these questions and your health concern isn't immediately apparent, don't worry. Acunpuncture is a holistic medicine that takes into account all facets of your life. These questions help the acupuncturist diagnose your condition and tailor a treatment plan to your specific needs. The acupuncturist may ask to see your tongue or to take your pulse. She may take note of your colouring or palpate the muscles of your abdomen. This helps her identify which combination of points to treat and which technique(s) to use. You will be asked to lie down and possible to loosen or remove clothing. The acupuncturist will then insert very fine, hair-thin needles at precise points to encourage or re-establish the body's flow of vital energy.
Will it hurt ?
When the needles are inserted, you may feel a slight sensation akin to a mosquito bite. It lasts only a split second and leaves no mark. When the needles are in place, most people feel a sense of well-being and relaxation.
How deep do the needles go ?
Most acupuncture points can be stimulated from the surface and therefore do not require deep insertion. There are strict guidelines on how to insert needles into specific points. These have been passed down for thousands of years, enabling acupuncturists to safely and effectively practice their art.
How many treatments before I feel better ?
The number of treatments varies depending on the severity and history of the condition. But the most important factor is your general health or energy. In the case of a sudden acute illness, you might need to space your treatments closer together. For chronic illnesses, treatments are more spaced out and continue until the condition improves or stabilizes. The acupuncturist will advise you on the course of treatment when you first meet.
Besides needles, what are the techniques ?
- Moxibustion – the mugwort herb (moxa) is burnt on the end of a needle or held directly over an acupuncture point. The warmth stimulates a flow of blood and qi
- Ba Guan Zi - suction cups are applied to an acupuncture point or dragged along a meridian
- Pi Fu Zhen, also called plum-blossom or seven-star needle - a group of seven normal needles arranged in the shape of a flower, like a hammerhead on a long handle. The needles are lightly tapped on the skin.
- as well as more contemporary methods such as:
Is Acupuncture appropriate for everyone ?
The main goal of this therapy is to help the body regain balance. It regulates and harmonizes the body's energy rather than simply targeting illness.
The World Health Organization published its Guidelines for Basic Training and Safety in the Practice of Acupuncture in 2001. It stipulates some acupuncture contraindications and precautions, including for the safe treatment of pregnant women. (Expectant mothers around the world receive acupuncture right up to delivery.)
At Clinique Altermed, we treat expectant mothers with the utmost caution. The use of certain known acupuncture points and certain methods of stimulation can cause uterine contractions. It's important to tell your acupuncturist if you are pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant so that she can adapt the treatment plan accordingly.
- Medical emergencies and surgeries
Acupuncture can be used here as a complementary measure, in combination with other treatments, to relieve pain or other symptoms, including the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, thereby improving the quality of life.
- Hemostatic disorders
Are Acupuncture needles safe ?
The measures taken in 2003 by the College of Acupuncturists of Quebec render impossible any risk of transmission of disease by an acupuncture needle. The Order now requires that all acupuncturists practicing in Quebec use single-use sterile needles.