About Acupuncture

Illustration from ancient Chinese text showing acupuncture points on the body

Acupuncture is used to treat a broad range of conditions. The needles used in acupuncture are sterile, single-use, and much smaller than conventional hypodermic needles – only the width of a few hairs! Acupuncture points are chosen based on a complex system of diagnosis unique to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Acupuncture is one of the most ancient therapeutic techniques in the world. From the Western biomedicine viewpoint, we can say that acupuncture relaxes muscles, increases circulation, activates the parasympathetic “de-stress” response, and changes the way pain signals are sent between the body and the brain. Acupuncture also works by manipulating the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), or energy, through a network of established pathways, called “meridians” or “channels.” The Qi influences and is influenced by all of the tissues and vital organs through which it passes, and each meridian is associated with particular organs and functions. By gently inserting and manipulating needles in specific points on these channels, the flow of Qi can be adjusted to correct excess, deficiency, or blockage and bring the system back into balance. The result is that the body’s own natural healing processes are allowed to work freely to restore optimal function.

After a thorough diagnostic assessment, a group of points is chosen to address your needs. Sometimes points are chosen because they can provide immediate relief of a particular condition; some points work on a deeper and more subtle level over a longer term; some points also have aspects relating to emotions.

The first question on most people’s minds when they are considering acupuncture is, “Does it hurt?” There’s no need to be afraid of acupuncture needles, because they are nothing like the needles you’re used to seeing in the doctor’s office! Acupuncture needles are not used for injection, so they are smaller and much thinner. Some people feel a tiny “pinch” when the needles are first inserted and which quickly subsides; but most don’t feel any pain at all. Most people do feel a relaxing sensation of tingling, fullness, or warmth that signals the activation of Qi at the acupuncture point. Once the needles are in, patients are left to relax and enjoy a period of deep, restorative rest while the needles do their work.

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