Acupuncture is part of an entire system of medicine called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Patients have been using TCM, acupuncture, cupping, and Chinese herbs successfully for over 2000 years. With each individual patient a TCM diagnosis is made by history, physical examination of the entire constitution, including tongue and pulse. After this an acupuncture treatment can be individualized for a patients needs. An acupuncture treatment occurs when you are in a comfortable position typically sitting or lying down. It takes about 5 minutes to place the needles in the body. Typically 5-25 small needles are placed into the skin. Many people do not feel the needles at all, some experience interesting sensations or a slight pinch as the needle goes in. With the TCM tradition the needles are left in for approximately 30 minutes. Most patients find this time quite relaxing.
How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture works on creating balance in the body. Illness and disease are signs that the body is out of balance. If any of the major meridians are out of balance this will cause a person to be unwell. From a Western perspective the benefits of acupuncture are achieved by releasing endorphins, reducing scar tissue, stimulating trigger points, increasing flow of energy and blood. The needles are sterile stainless steel and provide a conduit for energy “Qi” to increase, decrease, spread or redirect the energy on it’s normal path.
Benefits of Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be supportive for almost any medical condition. However I find that it is most useful for acute pain, chronic pain, IBS, insomnia, migraines, hormone imbalances (PMS, infertility, menstrual cramps), and stress. Some benefits are instantaneous such as, pain reduction, increased range of motion or a sense of overall wellbeing and relaxation. Certain conditions are more complex and it will occasionally take more time to see results. Usually a series of 6 treatments within one month is recommended in order to achieve lasting results. Then you will determine along with your doctor if you have graduated from acupuncture treatment or if you could benefit from ongoing acupuncture treatments at a reduced frequency.
Traditional Chinese Medicine - Cupping
Cupping is an additional therapy in TCM and can be used to move and release excess “Qi” energy from the body. The cupping is literally performed with glass cups that are suctioned onto the skin using heat. The suction provides manual “massage” therapy to the connective tissue and muscles that are close to the surface. If the suction is intense enough sometimes there will be red or purple cupping marks. This is typically a good sign that pain, stagnation and toxins are leaving the body. Patients will tend to notice benefits of decreased muscle tension and stimulation of the immune system. They discoloration will dissipate over approximately 3-5 days. Cupping, like acupuncture is most helpful when done in a short series of treatments (so you can see improvement and achieve permanent results) or performed for maintenance 1-2 times a month.