Alongside a natural hormone expert and herbalist, I’m an acupuncturist. I’ve forever loved the treatment and results I get at my clinic The Pagoda Tree using acupuncture. Granted, the idea of sticking needles in your body for some is less welcome than chilblains. Thankfully, what you think acupuncture may feel like and what it actually feels like are worlds apart. Today I want to share 9 facts about acupuncture and how it can change your life.
Let’s learn more about this wonderful treatment method that has stood the test of time – after all 3000 years in the making has to have something right, don’t you think?
1. Acupuncture generally doesn’t hurt.
At least not in the way you think. The sensation that comes with acupuncture may be likened to the sensation you get when you hit your funny bone. It isn’t a skin pain as such but more a warm, buzzy feeling as the needles influence blood and ‘qi’ flow through out the body.
2. It works by intercepting neural pathways.
There are several theories as to how acupuncture actually works. When it comes to pain relief, it is believed that it intercepts the messages sent to the brain telling your body something hurts (think muscular pain or aches). From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) standpoint, we see things a little differently. Take pain for example. Not only may it intercept the pain message but in doing so it allows the muscle to somewhat relax, facilitating nutrient and blood flow to the pain site to encourage and induce healing, speeding up the recovery.
3. Meridians or channels aren’t mystical.
They might sound like it! But no – there has been research performed where dye was injected and radiographed. The dye appeared to follow what acupuncturists would refer to as a channel (think of it as a pathway). I like to paint the picture to my patients in my clinic, The Pagoda Tree, that acupuncture meridians are like corridors each branching from our main organs (there are 12 major channels in total). Each corridor then has doors that can open and close along it. Think of the corridors as the channel and the doors like the acupuncture points. Each acupuncture point is stimulated to influence how the organ performs. So let’s say that the activity of the liver is over compensating. We can utilise specific points (doors) along the channel (corridor leading to the liver) to calm the liver activity down to restore balance. This is a very basic example of how acupuncture may work. It’s quite an intricate system.
4. Acupuncture needles aren’t like a syringe.
Many novice patients are frightened by the very thought of a needle. Thankfully, the humble acupuncture ‘pin’ represents just that – a pin. There’s nothing contained in the needle, like there would be in a syringe. The pin is what stimulates the body on it’s own. So unlike a syringe, it isn’t injecting anything nor is it taking anything out like a blood test. It’s simply a very tiny needle that you can barely feel.
5. Acupuncture is safe and used for IVF.
Most health care professionals will agree that acupuncture is a very safe form of treatment when performed by a qualified acupuncturist. Many IVF specialists will encourage their patients to utilise the benefits of acupuncture during the IVF process. There is a lot of research that has gone into the area of acupuncture and IVF that tells us acupuncture can increase the success of IVF by up to 70% (and even more for natural fertility).
6. Dry needling is different from acupuncture.
There are many professionals who learn needling techniques utilised for pain relief in situations of muscular problems. It is wonderfully effective. This can be performed by chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists and myotherapists. This however, is very different from what we perform as acupuncturists and is often referred to as dry needling. Acupuncturists study their craft for many years. Practitioners who learn dry needling have indeed studied in their field (i.e. physio) for many years and have the ability to do a short course in needling. As you can see, this sets the two worlds apart. Acupuncturists use Chinese Medical diagnosis based on TCM principles and treat using the channels.
7. Most conditions will benefit from acupuncture.
I’m yet to come across something I haven’t been able to draw on the benefits of acupuncture at The Pagoda Tree. The fact that a patient can come in with a cracker headache (for example) and may leave pain-free for me is one very rewarding treatment! In the clinic we treat a big long list of conditions – obviously my favourite is generally around women’s health – think period issues (painful, missing, long, short, heavy or otherwise), ovulation troubles (or lack of ovulation), PCOS, thyroid issues, IBS, recurrent UTI’s, IVF, weight troubles, peri-menopause, low ovarian reserve, male health and sperm quality, stress, menopause and pain relief.
The list goes on and on though – we continue to treat other issues like nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, pre labour and induction treatments (so effective!!), arthritis, allergies and in some clinics they specialise in specific areas like cancer or skin conditions. Told you there was very little it couldn’t help with!
8. Children can have acupuncture.
Children are very responsive to acupuncture. The way in which children are treated is a little different to adults. It’s a lot quicker. Generally when treating children other methods of treatment will be incorporated like massage.
9. Australian acupuncturists are highly regulated.
In Australia we have a national system (Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association) which regulates all practitioners and ensures we are up to scratch and high standards when it comes to our qualifications. For me, I completed two separate streams to obtain my qualifications. I completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Herbal Medicine and added to this with an Advances Diploma in Acupuncture (that’s 7.5 years all up on top of 3 years of Health Sciences – Bio Sciences! Fair to say I became accustomed to student life!). This means you can rest assured you are getting a quality treatment.
You can see – almost everybody will benefit from introducing acupuncture to their life. Just as you might commit to regular spinal care or massage, acupuncture comes with a swag of benefits for your body to soak up. I’d love to hear about your experience with acupuncture and create some general discussion in the comment section below about your love (or otherwise) for this wonderful treatment and how it influenced your body!
Original image can be found here.