What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the principal branches of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM is a complete, holistic and non-invasive medical system that has evolved over 3000 years to diagnose, treat and prevent illness. Acupuncture is a procedure which promotes health and alleviates pain.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Traditional acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theories of the flow of Qi (chee) and blood through energetic pathways in the body referred to as meridians. Qi is the animating force that gives us our capacity to move, think, and feel, in other words, our “vital force”. Meridians circulate life-giving nourishment in the form of Qi and blood to every part of the body.
In acupuncture, certain points on the body act as gateways to access and regulate the Qi in the meridians via the insertion of very fine needles. Qi regulates the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harmony of the body by keeping the energetic flows in balance. Imbalances and blockages of the body’s Qi are the root of disease processes. These imbalances may be caused by physical and emotional trauma, lack of excercise, poor nutrition, and chronic stress. Acupuncture works by rebalancing the energetic system of the body and supporting the body’s capacity to heal itself. By alleviating symptoms and treating the underlying cause of disease, acupuncture returns the body, mind and spirit to a balanced state.
What Does Acupuncture Treat?
Acupuncture effectively treats a broad range of acute and chronic conditions and provides preventative care. The World Health Organization acknowledges the ability of acupuncture and TCM to facilitate healing of many diseases. The following list are some of the conditions that acupuncture can benefit:
Muscular & Neurological Disorders:
sports injuries, low back pain, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, whiplash, carpal tunnel, sciatica, trigeminal neuralgia, post-stroke paralysis
colds and flu, sinusitis, headaches, migraines
smoking cessation, weight loss, pain management, post-operative pain, adverse reactions to radiation/chemotherapy
What To Expect
The first visit consists of a detailed health history, a visual inspection of the face and tongue, and the taking of pulses. This information is compiled to provide a picture identifying any pattern of imbalance or disturbance in the body. This is used to formulate a diagnosis and treatment plan specific to an individual’s concerns. Very fine, sterile and disposable needles are used at various points on the body. An average of twelve points are used in a session. You may feel nothing during this procedure, or you may experience a prickling or mild aching sensation, a feeling of heaviness or warmth. The procedure is comfortable and most individuals experience a state of deep relaxation. Adjunctive forms of stimulation may be incorporated into a treatment such as the use of micro-current, herbs, moxibustion and cupping.
How Many Treatments are Required?
As a general rule of thumb, chronic conditions usually require ten sessions. Acute or mild conditions may only require a few treatments.Maintenance treatments may be required periodically. Individual responses are taken into consideration.
Additional Benefits of Acupuncture
Acupuncture has gained popularity and credibility also due to several additional advantages:
* lack of side-effects
*highly cost-effective, especially if used early in the course of a disease
*easily combines with, complements and enhances other forms of therapy, such as Massage therapy, Physiotherapy, and Psychotherapy thus promoting an integrated approach to obtain and maintain optimal health and well being.
Modern Theories of Pain Relief
There are several theories, though none by itself explains the multiple analgesic, anti-inflammatory and regenerative effects of acupuncture.Western studies have found evidence that acupuncture points conduct electromagnetic signals. Stimulating acupoints cause these signals to be relayed to the brain at a higher than normal rate. These signals in turn cause the brain to release pain-relieving chemicals, endorphins and immune system cells to weak or injured parts of the body.
Other studies have shown that acupuncture activates the release of opioids in the central nervous system. Opioids are the body’s natural pain relieving compounds. Acupuncture also appears to alter the chemical balance of the brain by modifying the production and release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Acupuncture has been documented as affecting certain involuntary body functions, including immune reactions, blood pressure and body temperature.
What is Cupping?
Cupping is a technique that stimulates acupoints by applying suction via a glass cup in which a partial vacuum has been created. This produces a congestion of blood locally and is often used for low back pain, sprains, soft tissue injuries as well as respiratory conditions such as asthma.
What is Moxibustion?
Moxibustion is a technique in which moxa wool or stick comprised of the herb wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris) is lit and used to warm acupoints. Moxibustion is used to enhance the effectiveness of a treatment.
Is Acupuncture Covered by MSP?
MSP provides partial coverage for individuals on premium assistance.
Acupuncture is included in most insurance and extended medical plans as well as for Blue Cross recipients. If you are uncertain of the extent of your coverage, please contact your extended medical plan provider.
Is Acupuncture Regulated in BC?
Acupuncturists are regulated by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia (CTCMA), in compliance with the Health Professions Act of BC.