In case you haven’t heard about acupuncture, it’s a very popular medical practice that entails stimulating points of energy within the body by inserting a very, very tiny needle into the skin. Most people find it to be painless, relaxing, and an overall pleasant experience. As a student of naturopathic medicine, I use acupuncture every day (literally… every day) in order to bring balance back to a person’s body, mind and spirit. It is a powerful tool that I’ve got in my toolkit to make people better.
OK, but what is it?
Well, there are many different forms of acupuncture. The kind that I am trained in is Traditional Chinese Medicinal Acupuncture, developed a really long time ago (like 100 B.C. long time ago) in China to cure common ailments as well as serious diseases. Acupuncture points lie along energy meridians in your body, which are named after organs (for the most part). For example, the Large Intestine (aka, your lovely colon) channel travels from the tip of your first finger up your arm, all the way to your nose. Check it out:
This is the cool part – by stimulating points along this meridian, it is possible to influence the function of the large intestine, and other parts of the body that the large intestine has a relationship with (more to come on our many energy meridians in an upcoming post – stay tuned). Even if the organ that we want to influence is located far away from the point that we are needling, we are able to make that energy move – this is because every part of the body is intimately connected. You might be thinking, “This is impossible!” But remember, we all started out as two single cells in the womb – the sperm and the egg – and everything that would become all of our organs and tissues started out as microscopic, intimate neighbors that depended on each other for survival. This remains true even as we grow in size to become full, life-sized people – everything within our bodies and minds is highly interwoven and plugged into everything else within it. Awesome, right?
Yes this is amazing! How does it work?
This is still being studied – nobody really knows for sure. This is pretty common in medicine – we know treatments work, we see them work, but we can’t explain how or why. This is even true for many prescription drugs on the market – their scientific mechanism of action is very poorly understood (or even unknown in some cases). Anyhoo, one theory is that it acupuncture works through influencing neurohormonal pathways – a big part of the way that your body sends messages between its parts. Basically, if the body is not functioning in balance, you will have areas of your self that have too much energy, and areas that have too little. This can lead to any number of health problems – pain, for example, is usually considered a condition of excess – you have too much energy in one area and this is causing a problem for your body. Acupuncture helps re-direct your energy to where it is supposed to be, thus reducing pain and restoring health.
How safe is it?
Acupuncture is very safe as long as it is being performed by a licensed professional. In Ontario, Naturopathic Doctors have over 150 hours of practical acupuncture training, not to mention thousands of hours studying Traditional Chinese Medicine – and that’s only before they graduate. NDs must also pass a provincial licensing exam in order to practice acupuncture in addition to a separate license to practice medicine. Acupuncture is also very safe in pregnancy (and is especially useful for things like morning sickness), but your ND will avoid certain points that have been known to stimulate labour. Acupuncture is also very clean – all the points are cleaned before needle insertion, and each needle is used only once and comes out of its own individually wrapped package.
What will your first acupuncture session be like?
I am so glad you asked! After I do a thurough intake of your case, I will put together a plan of the points to be needled that are specific to your needs and what you are trying to achieve with your body. This can be anything, from feeling less pain, to sleeping better, to not catching so many colds, to feeling more relaxed, to having more energy or to increasing your chances of conceiving. The list is endless! And, luckily, it is possible to correct several imbalances at the same time. A typical session lasts around 45 minutes, with the needles being in the points for 15-30 minutes. The number of treatments will vary depending on how long you have been experiencing the issue and how severe it is.
If this sounds like something you would like to try, get in touch with me! Send me an email of give one of my clinics a call today.