What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a traditional form of therapy from China. It has been practiced for over 5000 years, and is now common all over the world. Acupuncturists insert very fine needles into points on the body to promote healing. Acupuncture is a holistic form of health care, meaning it treats the whole body, not just individual symptoms. Acupuncture can be used alone, or combined with other kinds of treatments.
How does it work?
Traditional oriental medicine teaches us that energy flows through our bodies in a system of meridians, like rivers. When we are sick or when we feel pain, our energy gets blocked, like a dam on a river. Acupuncture helps to clear away those blockages. Scientifically speaking, acupuncture stimulates nerves in the brain and spinal chord, and releases feel-good chemicals like opioids and serotonin. Acupuncture can help us relax, or give us more energy. It is a way to clear toxins out of our systems. It helps the body heal itself.
What can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is helpful for any health concern. Studies have shown it is effective in treating hundreds of symptoms and diseases. Some things commonly treated are headaches, back pain, muscle or joint pain, stress, depression, sleep problems, addictions, symptoms related to HIV, hepatitis, cancer, diabetes, or other chronic health problems, pms, menopause, pregnancy issues, weight loss, scar and wrinkle reduction, and much more.
What does it feel like? Does it hurt?
No, acupuncture does not have to hurt. In general, acupuncture treatments are very calming. Acupuncture needles are very thin – about as thin as a few human hairs. There are some techniques where the needles do not go deeper than a few millimeters. You may feel a slight poke, or you may not feel it at all. Sometimes a nerve may be activated, and you might feel a quick electric sensation. Once the needles are in, you may feel a warm or heavy feeling in that area. Most people get very relaxed. Many people say they feel trance-like or meditative. Some people even fall asleep.
Is it safe?
Yes. Acupuncture needles are sterile. They are only used once and then discarded safely. There is no transmission of blood or body fluids. Needles do not go deep enough to do serious damage. Acupuncturists are trained extensively to avoid injury. From time to time, there may be slight redness, swelling, bruising or bleeding where the needle was put in. This is normal, and will go away quickly.
What if I’m afraid of needles?
There are some kinds of acupuncture where the needles do not even go into the skin. There are also alternatives to needles, such as cupping, tapping, magnets or seeds, which can be used at acupuncture points and have similar effects.
I’m interested! What do I do?
Great! Simply come to the next acupuncture session. It is best to arrive a little early for your first time, so you and the acupuncturist have a chance to ask a few questions and get to know each other a bit. If possible, please eat and be rested beforehand. It is better not to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but it is ok to have a treatment no matter what your state of health is that day. Do not plan anything strenuous for the rest of your day. You may feel very relaxed afterwards. The effects should last for at least a few hours. You should notice some change after your first session, and symptoms greatly improve after multiple sessions.