Acupuncture is an ancient practice that originated in Asia. It works by facilitating the smooth flow of energy (qi, pronounced chee) and Blood flow in the body.
Smooth flow of qi and Blood is the body’s natural state of equilibrium. This energy flow is what acupuncturists manipulate to address overall health.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a saying that when there is pain there is no smooth flow of qi but if there is a smooth flow of qi, there is no pain. It is believed that by inserting needles into the connective tissue, it sparks an electrical response which then stimulates the body’s natural painkillers to relieve pain (1).
The premise of Taoist beliefs of harmony and balance, of yin and yang has come a long way from its humble beginnings of using bones to the present day of medical acupuncture and medical devices such as electroacupuncture and laser. Many research studies have been done on the efficacy of acupuncture and its benefits.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the modalities within Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Acupuncture and oriental medicine have been around for more than 3000 years.
In acupuncture, the acupuncturist inserts very thin needles (acupuncture needles) of varying lengths into certain points of the body known as acupuncture points. These specific points are located all over the body and along pre-defined acupuncture channels or meridians. There are approximately 361 main acupuncture points. The acupuncturist stimulates the needles to obtain ‘de qi’ – loosely translated to “the arrival of qi” – which has the therapeutic effect of treating pain and promoting emotional well-being.
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What takes place during acupuncture?
During acupuncture, the practitioner will ask specific questions regarding signs and symptoms to arrive at a pattern diagnosis and treatment principle. There will be a physical examination which may include palpation of the area of pain or concern, tongue observation and pulse palpation. The acupuncture practitioner will then explain the next steps, treatment plan and the number of treatments required for the best outcome. This will be an integrative health assessment taking into account your existing health conditions, western medicine assessments and other conventional treatments you have had. Your acupuncture practitioner will then make you feel comfortable and begin the session.
Acupuncture involves inserting needles in the human body. Depending on the nature of your presenting condition, your acupuncture treatment may include electroacupuncture which is electrical stimulation of certain points and other treatments such as Chinese herbal formula, Chinese massage, Chinese dietetics therapy, exercises (tai chi or qi gong), cupping or gua sha (“scraping”).
Is acupuncture safe?
Yes, acupuncture is safe. Acupuncture should be performed by experienced and trained practitioners with relevant accreditations.
Is acupuncture backed by science?
Acupuncture is considered an evidence-based modality. Many research articles have been published over the years to show acupuncture’s efficacy and application in treatment. These range from acupuncture treatment protocols, acupuncture dosing, acupuncture and pain management, acupuncture in chronic pain management, acupuncture treatment for insomnia, and acupuncture for the treatment of a variety of health conditions. These articles and researches are often peer-reviewed studies – a systematic review of acupuncture – and can be found in medical journals.
A search on medical or complementary and integrative health websites will yield hundreds of studies being conducted or have been conducted on acupuncture points, acupuncture needles, acupuncture treatment, etc. One of these sites is the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The national centre for complementary and alternative medicine lists numerous articles on acupuncture as an effective treatment for various conditions if used as an adjunct or even as a stand-alone treatment. However, your acupuncture practitioner will never advise against ceasing your western medicine treatment in lieu of acupuncture alone.
How acupuncture works
Stimulating qi (pronounced chee) to balance the body’s flow of energy
The acupuncturist inserts sterile needles in acupuncture treatments on specific points to obtain ‘de qi’ or the sensation of a dull ache or heaviness at the insertion site. This indicates the stimulation of electrical charges in your body to facilitate healing.
What acupuncture can treat
*Bulletpoint list with relevant links to new and existing pages*
Chronic pain – several bodies of research have been conducted on acupuncture and its effectiveness in the management of chronic pain. However, the underlying mechanism of how acupuncture achieves this still requires further study.
Neck pain – as with chronic pain, neck pain has been shown to respond favourably to acupuncture, again, how this is achieved through acupuncture still requires further study.
Adjunct to cancer treatment. Acupuncture does not claim to treat or cure cancer. What it does do is help alleviate some of the symptoms of cancer and side-effects of cancer treatments such as insomnia, pain, nausea and vomiting, headaches, constipation, fatigue, anxiety, stress, depression or mood changes, quality of life, hot flushes, tingling in the hands and feet.
Dental pain – studies have shown that acupuncture may be used as an adjunct to anaesthesia during dental procedures and may also alleviate post-operative pain and inflammation.
Facial pain – research on idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia supports using acupuncture to alleviate pain.
Improve sleep – this is one area highly researched in the use of acupuncture and in which acupuncture has been shown to be highly effective in alleviating its symptoms and occurrence.
Menstrual cramps – this is another area that acupuncture has had a positive effect.
How many treatments should I have?
The number of treatments and acupuncture sessions will vary depending on your health concerns and any other treatments you are receiving. We will work with you to recommend the number of treatments you should have after your initial acupuncture appointment. You can book your initial acupuncture appointment here.
A common myth about acupuncture: Traditional Chinese medicine is unregulated
In Australia, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are highly regulated by Australia’s national institutes of health such as AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency). To become an acupuncturist and a TCM practitioner, one has to go through rigorous checks through the national certification commission, the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA). Acupuncturists also have to have an association such as the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA). A health insurance company may also cover acupuncture and some cost of your treatment or treatments. To practice acupuncture, one must be registered with these governing bodies and also be insured.
Want to book an acupuncture appointment?
If you would like to book an acupuncture appointment, you have come to the right place! We can’t wait to help you improve your health through acupuncture.
You can make an appointment here or call us on 07 3367 0337. We offer acupuncture appointments in our Milton clinic most days of the week.
Book Your Appointment Today
Book your Acupuncture in one of our team here.