Acupuncture involves inserting very small needles into specific locations on the body, called acupuncture points or acupoints.
The Chinese medical theory is that, in addition to the flow of blood and body fluid, our bodies also have a flow of energy, called Qi. This energy can be thought of as electromagnetic in nature and is believed to flow in certain channels or meridians in the body. If the flow of Qi energy is blocked, either by illness, stress, or trauma to the body, then the body cannot flourish and poor health will result. Acupuncture opens up this energy flow again by interacting with the meridian system. One analogy I like to use is that a Qi blockage is like a traffic jam on a highway, and acupuncture is the cop that helps to direct traffic to get things moving again. The acupoints that we use are areas where the energy flows close to the surface of the skin, and that have been shown to have a lower electrical resistance when compared with surrounding areas of skin. The acupoints are thus a window to the electromagnetic energy of the body, and also to various nervous system responses.
During the first visit, I do a detailed intake and health history in advance of your treatment. Chinese medicine seeks to treat the person as a whole, and not just the symptom that you want to get rid of, and so I try to find out as much medical history as I can because Chinese medicine views any symptom as being part of a larger pattern of symptoms that will help us to diagnose your condition. .
During an acupuncture treatment, you’ll lie on the treatment bed, either fully clothed if you are in loose, comfortable clothes such as shorts and a t-shirt, or you may change into a gown, or be draped with towels. If you have come in with back pain, you’ll probably be lying on your front so that I can put needles in your back. For most other treatments, you’ll lie on your back and I’ll treat the front of your body. Most of the acupuncture points we use are on the lower legs, lower arms, abdomen or back. Some scalp or face points may be used, depending on the issue you came in with.
The needles are very thin and small, and do not hurt. You might feel a slight pinch on some acupuncture points, but that is it. Some people feel a heavy or tingly sensation at some acupuncture points, or a sensation of energy moving up their arm or leg – this is great, because it means you can feel the energy, or Qi, doing something. Many people feel nothing at all but a sense of relaxation, which is also great!
You then get to relax for half an hour or so, while the needles guide your body in healing itself and letting go of stress and pain. Many people report that they feel more deeply relaxed with acupuncture than with any other relaxation method they have tried. And while people don’t generally fall asleep during the first treatment, it’s very common to doze off as you’re lying on the table.
Don’t let a fear of needles or the unknown put you off experiencing the wonderful benefits of acupuncture!