“Our bodies communicate to us clearly and specifically, if we are willing to listen.”
– Shakti Gawain
Acupuncture in Oak Bay BCBook Appointment
Originating in China, acupuncture is an ancient alternative medicine philosophy that has been perfected over hundreds of years of practice and is one of the more widely accepted treatments in integrative medicine. It uses a variety of techniques involving insertion and manipulation of very thin needles on the body's surface, acupressure, cupping, warming techniques like moxibustion and infrared, and the diagnosis of tongue, pulse, skin, and eyes. Acupuncture connects with all levels of your health, no matter where the pain or condition you are experiencing occurs. It is a safe and effective treatment option that can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies for a wide range of diagnoses.
Acupuncture treatments have traditionally been associated with the Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy that the human body is composed of two opposing energies – the yin and the yang. When the body is healthy, these two forces or energies are in balance. The energy known as qi, flows like a river in energy pathways through the human body, and these energy channels are called meridians. Each meridian is connected to a specified organ or groups of organs that govern specific functions within the body and emotions. The constant flow of energy through the meridians keeps the balance of the yin and the yang. If the flow of energy is blocked, the disruption of flow may result in illnesses or disturbances. In acupuncture, it is believed that using thread-like needles and inserting them in certain key points in the human body will relieve blockages in the flow of energy. Such relief enables the body to heal and restore its balance.
In the West, acupuncture treatment initially aroused curiosity and became popular because of its amazing effects for pain relief. From the allopathic medical perspective, Acupuncture is explained through physics and physiology. From this point of view, Acupuncture works by stimulating the human central nervous system to release body chemicals which are known as neurotransmitters and hormones. Stimulating specific points will generate a change in the flow of energy. This then induces the release of certain chemicals and the related chemical reactions relieve pain and inflammation and stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin (mood enhancing neurotransmissions), which helps relieve stress, anxiety and pain.
Hundreds of clinical studies on the benefits of acupuncture show that it successfully treats conditions ranging from musculoskeletal problems (back pain, neck pain, and others) to nausea, migraine, anxiety, depression, insomnia and infertility.
- Analgesic: The most commonly known effect of acupuncture is the relief or reduction of pain
- Sedation: Acupuncture decreases the delta and theta wave activity in the brain resulting in deep relaxation and/or sleep. This affect allows an acupuncturist to effectively treat conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, addictions, epilepsies, mental disorders and stress.
- Psychological: There is a calming and tranquilizing action in addition to the sedative affect. Measureable changes in brain chemistry have been observed.
- Homeostatic: This refers to the internal state of the body returning to a natural balance. This involves the sympathetic, parasympathetic divisions of the nervous system and endocrine system.
- Immune Enhancing: Acupuncture can strengthen the body against disease.
- Restauration: by stimulating the points and aiming for a free flow of energetic circulation, acupuncture helps local circulation, tissue oxygenation and regeneration to promote the natural healing aspects of our bodies.
What to expect
The initial consultation in our acupuncture clinic includes an in-depth health history review, taking the pulse on both arms and inspection of the tongue. Based on the results of this assessment, acupuncture treatment is highly individualized and treatment focus will vary depending on your treatment goals. Subsequent treatments will follow a treatment plan determined by your needs and therapeutic goals.
A frequently asked question by a number of clients is whether or not acupuncture needles hurt?
Naturally, people associate needle pain with their past experience with hypodermic needles. You can fit close to 10 acupuncture needles inside the top of one hypodermic needle. Acupuncture needles are tiny, thin, and flexible, about the size of a cat's whisker. Once the needles are inserted, some patients may experience a mild tingling or a sensation of fullness, along with an increased sense of relaxation. These are all quite normal and suggest that the treatment is working.
Conditions That Acupuncture Can Be Helpful For
Hundreds of clinical studies on the benefits of acupuncture show that it successfully treats conditions ranging from musculoskeletal problems (back pain, neck pain, and others) to nausea, migraine headache, anxiety, depression, insomnia and infertility.
Case-controlled clinical studies have shown that acupuncture has been an effective treatment for the following diseases, symptoms or conditions:
Acupuncture Can Help With:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue
- Common cold
- Dental pain
- Digestive trouble
- Emotional problems
- Eye problems
- Facial palsy
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Low back pain
- Menstrual irregularities
- Morning sickness
- Reproductive problems
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Shoulder pain
- Sleep disturbances
- Smoking cessation
- Sore throat
- Tennis elbow
- Tooth pain
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Urinary tract infection
The vast majority of contraindications for acupuncture are relative rather than absolute contraindications, and professional judgement is necessary for areas such as
- Unexplained or undiagnosed medical or ‘red flag’ conditions – immediate referral on
- Sepsis and overwhelming infection – immediate referral on
- Notifiable diseases – not as a first line treatment, although acupuncture may be used alongside conventional treatment
- Unexplained and/or unstable syncope or seizure
- Damaged heart valves and endocarditis - acupuncture needs to be used with extreme caution in a patient who is susceptible to endocarditis
- Pregnancy is not an absolute contraindication, but there are a number of points which are believed to be abortifacient in the first trimester which must be avoided.
- Pacemaker or AICD (automatic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) - patients should avoid electro-acupuncture
- Bleeding disorders and use of anticoagulants are not absolute contraindications, but the practitioner must check that the patient’s INR levels are being monitored and only use superficial needle techniques with gentle stimulation, avoiding joint capsules and muscle compartments
- Lymphoedema and the needling of limbs below areas where lymph nodes have been stripped, as for example after a mastectomy, should be avoided
- Local contraindications to acupuncture include active infection, skin lesions, or malignancy at the insertion sites, since there is the risk of worsening the condition, such as spreading the infection, creating more inflammation, or causing the dispersal or metastatic tumour cells, respectively