Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment that is used to address many common ailments such as neck pain, sciatica, and insomnia. Especially when combined with massage therapy, you’ll be amazed at how such safe and conservative treatment can provide effective relief from some of life’s most common and aggravating health issues!
What is acupuncture?
Extremely thin, single-use, sterile, disposable needles are inserted at various places in the body in order to re-balance the body and improve health. Other ways of stimulating these points include acupressure (finger/elbow/foot pressure) and moxibustion (see below).
Does it hurt?
Most people describe the feeling as a quick prick (or nothing at all) followed by a heavy, dull ache. Surprisingly, the experience is actually quite pleasant – you may feel relaxed and dreamy, “like things are moving around” in your body, or a strange connection between, say, a needle in your shin and the pain in your shoulder.
How many needles will you put in?
Treatment usually consists of 8-10 needles, though it can range from just 1 up to 20 (rarely).
What are acupuncture points?
The Chinese character 穴 means a ditch or depression. If you were to poke and prod and press all over your body, you could probably map a good many of them, as they are often more sensitive than the surrounding areas.
The points are gateways or access points to the channels – the lines of communication to and from and between the organs. They are like the subway line and subway stops. You can only access a subway line at certain locations, and you choose certain stops for certain reasons (transfer to another subway, perhaps a talented musician).
What is the theory behind acupuncture?
Practitioners of Chinese medicine have been studying and observing the human condition for over 2000 years. Their observations led to the discovery that there are “channels” in the body through which qi (“life energy”) flows. There are 12 “main” channels which connect and are directly related to internal organs. For example, the Stomach channel starts below the eye, travels down the front of the torso (where it dives in and connects to the stomach organ), and continues down the front and sides of the leg to end up on the second toe. Affecting the channel affects the internal organs. So points along the Stomach channel are selected in treating Stomach disorders. Sometimes the problem is just in the channel – you twisted your knee and caused an obstruction in the Stomach channel, so points along the Stomach channel (and not just near your knee!) are chosen to remove the obstruction.
What is moxibustion? What does it feel like? Will it hurt? When is it done?
Moxibustion is the application of heat to the body through the burning of an herb, Artemisia vulgaris. This technique is most often selected when the problem is due to dampness and/or cold. Perhaps your knees hurt after kneeling all weekend in the cold dirt in your garden, or you have low back pain that is worse in the winter, or perhaps headaches due to humidity. There are numerous moxibustion techniques – “cigars” of moxa are waved over a point or area of the body, a small stick (like a piece of thick incense) may be burned in a special burner that holds the stick over an acupoint, the loose material may be packed into a ball and burned on the shaft of an acupuncture needle, or it may be burned directly on the skin. Moxibustion at is a gentle and generally quite pleasant therapy. At first you feel heat on the skin, then the heat penetrates deeper into your body. Some sensitive people can even feel the heat traveling up or down the acupuncture channel.
Some people find the smell similar to marijuana, so this may not be an appropriate technique for you in the middle of your day (depending on your social and work environments).
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Your condition may respond faster when Chinese herbs are taken in addition to acupuncture treatment. Herbal formulas are a balanced combination of typically 4-12 different herbs, and the effect of the formula is dependent on the combination and dosage. If your condition requires herbal medicine but no classic formula matches perfectly, a custom formula may be recommended for you. Like acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, aims to restore your body to balance. Once this balance is achieved, you should stay in balance and no longer need the herbs. You should not have to take them forever! (Obvious exceptions to this include age-related disorders and conditions where lifestyle changes aren't implemented.)
The office stocks a small selection of common prepared formulas in pill form. A custom granule formula may also be prepared for you while you’re relaxing with the acupuncture needles in. If a raw herb formula is necessary, it will be mail-ordered and either shipped to the office or directly to your home.