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 can be helpful for many types of concerns. The World Health Organization has listed acupuncture as 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, pms, menopause, fertility, metabolism, scar and wrinkle reduction, and much more. Acupuncture is also used to treat symptoms related to chronic conditions such as diabetes, and to help minimize side effects of cancer treatments.

What does it feel like? Does it hurt?

The old saying "no pain no gain" does not apply here. Acupuncture does not typically hurt, and in fact, most people get very relaxed. In general, acupuncture treatments are very calming. Acupuncture needles are very thin – about as thin as a few human hairs. There are certain techniques where the needles do not go more than a millimeters or two, and some non instertive acupuncture styles as well. Sometimes people may feel a mild poke, pinch, or pressure, or "zing", sometimes people feel nothing at all. Some words people have used to describe the sensationa felt during acupuncture are "warm" and "heavy", or "light" and "floating". Some people say they feel trance-like or meditative. Many people fall asleep. In fact, a cozy, restorative acu-nap is a common sight in an acupuncture clinic. 

Is it safe?

Yes. Acupuncture needles are sterile. They are only used once and then discarded. 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 set. This is normal, and will quickly pass.

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. Feel free to ask us for needle free treatment options. 

What should I know before my first session?

It is best to plan to arrive on time, as we are currently unable to accommodate multiple people in a waiting room.

It's a good idea not to get acupuncture on an empty stomach, or directly before or after a large meal, but it's great to have a light snack.

Do not plan anything strenuous for the rest of your day. You may feel very relaxed afterwards. Your body will be in a healing mode and you will get best results by taking it easy and allowing your system to incorporate the treatment. Some people like to follow their session with a gentle walk or a warm bath.

The effects of acupuncture are different for every person and for every condition. Most people notice changes after their first first session. You may notice these effects for a few hours or a few days. Your practitioner will recommend a treatment plan tailored for you based on your needs and their observations. Consistent follow up can lead to profound and lasting change.