woman being treated with acupuncture

How does acupuncture work?

Traditional East Asian medicine conceptualizes health in terms of channels and blood/energy flow. Much as we can observe in the natural world, it is all about balance. Take a stream for example–if there is too much or too little flow, the entire system is affected. When energy gets blocked–due to trauma, stress, lack of rest–it affects areas both upstream and downstream, resulting in pain and disease.

Stimulation of certain acupoints helps restore balance to the entire system, thereby resolving a wide array of ailments. In western terms the effects of acupuncture are also well documented. These include improved blood circulation, endorphin release, increased neuronal activity, and decreased inflammation.

Do the needles hurt?

Your practitioner uses very small, sterile needles. They are about the diameter of a hair. While it is normal to feel the insertion, it should not cause pain. Indeed, most patients find their treatments very relaxing.

How many treatments will I need?

The number and frequency of treatments varies widely per patient. Each individual is unique in her/his response. In general, the more chronic a condition, the longer it takes to resolve. Some patients experience profound change in 1-2 sessions. Others need more treatments in addition to long-term maintenance care.

Huh?! What are “community-style” treatments?

Community style practices are springing up all around the country and are typical in many East Asian countries. This popular form of receiving treatment utilizes a large room where other patients are also receiving acupuncture. This keeps the costs down and keeps this simple and effective form of medicine open to the masses. In our current setting we don’t have a large treatment room, so patients are treated in private rooms for the same low price!

What do I need for my first treatment?

Simply bring yourself and your completed paperwork. Please allow two hours for your first appointment and an hour for follow up visits. If you are coming for a community-style treatment, wear loose garments that will roll up past the elbows and knees. To get optimal benefit from your treatment, make sure you are well hydrated and have eaten something that day.

What research is there about the effectiveness of acupuncture?

photo_acup-doll_300x400Great question! It must be said that there are plenty of poorly designed studies out there. However, as the public becomes increasingly wary of pharmaceuticals and going under the knife, the role of holistic and natural medicine is increasingly in the spotlight. Accordingly, more high quality studies are being done by respected institutions.

Conditions for which there are many high quality studies include low back pain, addictions treatment, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, knee pain, migraines and headaches, and fertility support, among others. Check out the following links to various studies:

Effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of low back pain, “German acupuncture trials (GERAC) for effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic low back pain”, Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007, 167(17).

Effects of acupuncture on IVF success, “Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy and live births among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: systematic review and meta-analysis”, British Medical Journal, 2008: 336:545.

Effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic pain. “Acupuncture for Chronic Pain”, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). 2014 Mar 5; 311(9):955–6.

Effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic pain, “Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis”. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2012, 172(19):1444–1453.

Effectiveness of acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. “Acupuncture point stimulation for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting”, Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2005, 23(28):7188–7198.

Effectiveness of acupuncture for nausea and vomiting. “Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial”, Birth, 2002, 29(1):1–9.

Effectiveness of ginger for pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. “Ginger for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial”, Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2001, 97(4):577–82.

Effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of allergic asthma, “Immunomodulatory effects of acupuncture in the treatment of allergic asthma: a randomized control study”, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2007, 6(6).

Effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of osteoarthritis, “A randomized trial of acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy in osteoarthritis of the knee”. Rheumatology (Oxford), 1999, 38(4), 346–54.

As these studies demonstrate, research on acupuncture and holistic medicine is an exciting and quickly growing field. Stay tuned for more upcoming posts and resources in our News section!