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Acupuncture FAQ

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is part of a 3,000 year-old system of medicine that includes medicinal herbs and acupressure. by placing sterile, tiny pins on a specific zone on the skin we release the body’s own chemical healers, stimulate circulation and relax tense muscles. Acupuncture also helps relieve anxiety, stress and digestive issues, assists with weight release and smoking cessation.

Does Acupuncture hurt?

Most clients find acupuncture painless, although it’s not uncommon to experience it as a slight pinch followed by a warm, pleasant tingling sensation. Afterward, many people report a feeling of deep relaxation and elevated spirit. It’s a great way to recharge the batteries before, during or after a challenging period in one’s life. Read more about acupuncture here.

Is Acupuncture safe?

Yes, when performed by a trained professional. The needles are made of stainless steel and are sterile, individually packaged and disposable. No needle is ever used twice, so there is virtually no risk of infection.

How does Acupuncture work?

The Asian model describes a network of vital energy, called Qi (Chee) that runs through our bodies in pathways. In that model, our health depends upon the free-flow of this energy. When it is blocked is when we become ill. Whether or not one subscribes to that theory, what is true is that our bodies hold electromagnetic energy (all chemical reactions create electricity in us) that circulate through the body along energetic pathways. Overwork, stress, toxic food/chemicals, systemic immune suppressors, worry and other excesses cause these pathways to become blocked. By inserting hair-fine pins into specific points we unblock electrical pathways, allow muscles to ease, and blood and lymph to flow.

What sort of things does Acupuncture help with?

  • Habit Control (e.g. Smoking, Weight Control)
  • Pain Management: Sports trauma. Neck, shoulder, back, knee, elbow, CTS, etc.
  • Physical Disorders: Allergy, IBS, Nausea, Migraine, Constipation, etc.)
  • Emotional Disorders: Infertility, Anxiety, Stress, Depression, Panic Disorder)

General benefits of Acupuncture:

  • Releases chronic muscular tension and pain.
  •  Enhances the immune system by decompressing lymph vessels
  •  Detoxifies the blood, flushes out waste materials (Lactic Acid, CO2)
  •  Improves the Digestive and Reproductive systems
  •  Increases energy and stamina
  •  Stimulates sense of well being with cumulative benefits

What is the position of Western science on Acupuncture?

Western medical research has reached the conclusion that acupuncture can stimulate the immune system, increase secretion of digestive juices and enzymes, positively affect the circulation, blood pressure, rhythm and stroke volume of the heart, stimulate production of red and white blood cells, and regulate hormonal balance.

Recent evidence has shown that it is an effective treatment for pain, in part because of its ability to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” brain chemicals.  

Over the last twenty years, many hospitals, rehab centers, infertility clinics, and well-respected cancer care facilities, including Sloan Kettering, have integrated acupuncture into their treatment services.  For additional scientific information on acupuncture, visit the acupuncture page on the National Institutes of Health – National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is conducting ongoing research.

The River Metaphor:

Acupuncture theory and practice are rooted in the premise that our vital energy, called Qi (pronounced Chee) circulates through pathways (meridians) in the body. When one or more meridians. become blocked, Qi stagnates and we go out of balance, resulting in illness.

One commonly used metaphor for how acupuncture functions is through a description what of happens when a beaver builds a dam on a river, blocking the flow of water. One side of it becomes swamp-like, while the other becomes parched and lifeless.

Only by clearing the blockage will the waterway once more flow freely. Stagnation in the body can similarly impact on the fluids in our bodies, including blood, lymph, saliva and, yes, Qi as well.

The goal of acupuncture is to restore the body’s natural internal movement and, thus, its vitality.  The Eastern approach views your health problems as occurring within the context of your life and therefore cannot be isolated or apart from who you are in the moment.

Do you do dry needling?

Dry needling is a form of acupuncture and is sometimes practiced by physical therapists as well as acupuncturists. What distinguishes how we acupuncturists do it is in the tiny, filiform pins use (sterile, and one time use only). Physical therapists on the other hand, can legally use only syringe needles for each point. Unfortunately, the average patient perceives syringes to be incredibly uncomfortable.

The difference between acupuncture pins and syringes is this: When seen under a microscope, acupuncture pins are rounded at the end, and therefore part the flesh rather than pierce it. This is why there’s no blood when the pins come out.

Syringes are, when seen under a microscope, extremely sharp. They actually pierce the flesh, and the trauma to the body can lead to bleeding. For this reason most people prefer to go to licensed acupuncturists when their MD suggests sending them for dry needling.

We hope this helps explain the difference between dry needling done by an acupuncturist, and that done by a physical therapist.

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