Acupuncture FAQs

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional form of oriental medicine that has its roots in prehistoric times. In over 130 countries acupuncture is being practiced, privately, in hospitals and clinics. Traditional acupuncture consists of the painless insertion of very small needles into specific points on the body. These specific points are called acupoints. The insertion of needles at defined acupoints have two effects. First, it stimulates nerves which transmit electrical impulses to the brain and to the diseased area. The electrical impulse caused by the needles stimulate the proper regulation of the particular tissues in question. This is like a resetting mechanism. The body is naturally doing this, but when the body is weakened or the misbalancing influence of disease or injury is overwhelming the person may need assistance in this regulating process. Secondly, it has been shown that acupunctures' effects release chemical substances from the brain centers and pituitary gland. These substances are known as endorphins, serotonin, and others. They are released into the blood stream and are the body's own mechanism for pain relief. These are the two main effects of acupuncture, nerve stimulation and chemical substance release. These two effects may be broken down further, to specific areas that acupuncture is influential in regulating. The proper use of acupuncture will produce an analgesic or pain-relieving result, sedation, homeostatic (regulatory) action, immune enhancing effect, anti-inflammatory/anti-allergic effect and psychological action other then sedation.

Is Acupuncture safe?

In the hands of a comprehensively trained acupuncturist, your safety is assured. Acupuncture needles are sterile and are either disposable or autoclaved between treatments. If this is a concern for you, be sure to ask your practitioner about what type of needles he or she uses.

Is it painful?

Undergoing an acupuncture treatment bears no resemblance to the feeling of receiving an injection, since the main source of pain from injections is the larger diameter, hollow needle and the medication being forced into the tissue by pressure. Acupuncture needles are very fine and flexible, about the diameter of a human hair. In most cases, insertion by a skilled practitioner is performed without discomfort. You may experience a sense of heaviness or electricity in the area of insertion. Most patients find the treatments very relaxing and many fall asleep during treatment.

What is a typical treatment session like with an Acupuncturist?

An acupuncture session is between a half hour to an hour (a first visit is often longer). After diagnosing the patient and discussing treatment, the practitioner then performs the acupuncture. At the end of the session, the Acupuncturist may prescribe herbal therapies for the patient to use at home. Typically, the majority of the practitioner's time during a session is spent on the actual performance of acupuncture and related therapies such as moxibustion, and handwork to re-enforce the effects of the acupuncture treatment. In some cases, your practitioner may also recommend herbs, or dietary, exercise (such as yoga) or lifestyle changes.

What conditions does Acupuncture treat?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture and traditional Oriental medicine's ability to treat more than 43 common disorders including:

  • Gastrointestinal disorders, such as food allergies, peptic ulcer, chronic diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, gastrointestinal weakness, anorexia and gastritis
  • Urogenital disorders, including stress incontinence, urinary tract infections, and sexual dysfunction
  • Gynecological disorders, such as irregular, heavy, or painful menstruation, infertility in women and men, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Respiratory disorders, such as emphysema, sinusitis, asthma, allergies and bronchitis
  • Disorders of the bones, muscles, joints and nervous system, such as arthritis, migraine headaches, neuralgia, insomnia, dizziness and low back, neck and shoulder pain
  • Circulatory disorders, such as hypertension, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis and anemia
  • Emotional and psychological disorders, including depression and anxiety
  • Addictions, such as alcohol, nicotine and drugs
  • Eye, ear, nose and throat disorders
  • Supportive therapy for other chronic and painful debilitating disorders.