According to traditional Chinese philosophy, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle, while yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. When yin and yang are in a state of balance our  vital energy, called qi, is able to flow along our energy pathways called meridians.

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine believe that health is achieved only when the body is in a "balanced state" of yin and yang, and our qi is flowing.

When yin and yang are out of balance, our qi becomes blocked, and disease results.

Ancient medicine for modern times
Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique for relieving pain and disease, where ultrafine needles are inserted into specific points along the body’s meridians in order to release blocked qi. One of the oldest, most commonly used medical treatments in the world, acupuncture continues to be a standard medical procedure for the treatment of pain and disease in China, Japan and other eastern cultures.

What conditions do acupuncturists commonly treat?
Due in part to the growing research showing acupuncture’s ability to stimulate the release of endorphins and other pain-relieving hormones in the body, this ‘traditional’ therapy has now gained significant acceptance in the west, as well. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for a variety of health conditions, including:

  • Headache and migraines
  • Hypertension
  • Musculoskeletal and joint pain in the knees, hips, back, shoulders and neck
  • Postoperative pain
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Sprain
  • Stroke
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Allergies
  • Hot flashes
  • Fertility
  • Anxiety
  • Hormone imbalances
  • And much more

What to expect
Your acupuncture appointment begins with a consultation. You will be asked to describe your health concerns, lifestyle, diet, emotions, menstrual cycle (if applicable), sleep patterns, appetite, stress levels, and sensitivity to foods, temperature, and seasons. Your acupuncture practitioner may also perform a visual and physical examination of your face and tongue, and will evaluate your pulse.

The acupuncture treatment usually takes place sitting or lying down. Depending upon the condition you are having treated, you will either remain fully clothed, or you will be asked to change into a hospital gown.  Because acupuncture treatment takes place along the body’s meridians, the part of your body receiving the acupuncture needles may not correspond with the site of your pain or condition.

Your acupuncture practitioner will insert several ultrathin, sterile needles, one at a time, into various acupuncture points along your meridians. The needles are made of stainless steel and, unlike hypodermic needles, they are solid (not hollow), they do not draw blood, and they are exceptionally fine. Depending upon your condition, the insertion points may be on your face, arms, legs, back or abdomen (can be any part of the body) and will be 2 to 15 millimetres deep.

Usually between six and twelve needles are used in each treatment. As the needles are being inserted, you may feel a slight prick or sting, a mild tingling sensation, or nothing at all.

Once the needles are inserted, you should feel no pain or discomfort. Depending upon the type of treatment you are receiving, your acupuncture practitioner may gently manipulate or twist the needles until you feel a tingling sensation, indicating that the flow of your qi is being restored.

You will be asked to rest, with the needles in, from a few minutes to a half hour or more. Most people find the treatment calming and enjoy this period of rest.

When the rest period is over, your acupuncture practitioner will gently remove the needles. This is a quick and painless process, and the single-use needles are then disposed of safely. 

After your treatment, you may continue to feel calm and relaxed or you may feel energized. Although the course of treatment will vary according to your condition, a series of eight to ten treatments, spaced 1 week apart for 8 weeks are usually recommended. Keep in mind that each case is different.

For more information, visit the Acupuncture council of Ontario.

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