Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture assists with health maintenance and disease prevention. It complements conventional and other alternative medicines very well.
What is acupuncture?
Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture is based on the concept of vital energy (referred as Qi) that flows smoothly and continuously in the body through pathways called meridians, maintaining balance, proper function and health. When the normal flow and transformation of Qi becomes disrupted, imbalances occur that can lead to diseases. In addition to addressing a patient’s main health concerns, a TCM practitioner also considers and treats underlying causes of disharmony in the body than can contribute to disease as patients are treated as a whole (body-mind-spirit-emotions).
Furthermore, Chinese Medicine considers a broad range of factors such as a patient’s personal and work environment, emotions, lifestyle, diet, physical activity, climate, as well as changes in season. These factors can play a major role in a patient’s ability to regain and maintain health and well-being. Acupuncture treatments can help correct the imbalances of energy flow by stimulating specific points located all over the body. These points are portals through which Qi, of specific internal organs and meridians, is transported to the surface of the body. With balance restored, the body can use its own self-healing response. Your practitioner will gladly offer more insight into this amazing medicine, originating from eastern countries that has existed for thousands of years. Today it is practiced almost everywhere in the world either as a primary therapy by fully trained acupuncturist or as an adjunct modality by doctors and various other alternative health practitioners.
What conditions can acupuncture help with?
Acupuncture is most commonly known to treat disorders related to pain as well as injuries related to sport, repetitive stress and accidents. However, a TCM acupuncturist can also help treat and alleviate a broad range of health conditions by helping in rebalancing the body internally to a more optimal function:
Here are a few examples:
- digestive and elimination disorders (acid reflux, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, bad breath, food sensitivities)
- acute & chronic respiratory issues (asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia)
- immune disorders (frequent and lingering colds and flus, environmental sensitivities)
- sport and repetitive stress injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, upper and lower back tension and pain, frozen shoulder, knees and wrist pain)
- muscle, tendon and joint issues and injuries (trauma, arthritis, chronic inflammation, sprains)
- headache and migraine
- jaw tension and pain, teeth grinding, toothache
- nerve pain and sensory disturbances
- mental and emotional disorders (anxiety, depression, bi-polar, poor concentration)
- gynaecological issues (menstrual issues: heavy, painful and irregular periods, menopausal symptoms: hot flashes and night sweats)
- reproductive issues (male and female infertility and sexual dysfunction, increase success of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intrauterine insemination (IUI) by helping regulate menstrual and ovulation cycles)
- pregnancy care (alleviating nausea, vomiting, acid reflux and fatigue, help prevent miscarriage)
- post-pregnancy care (breastfeeding issues, promote healing of post-surgical C-section scar)
- circulatory disorders (poor circulation, blood pressure)
- regulates body temperature (overall too cold or too hot, abnormal sweating)
- addiction (alcohol, nicotine, drugs, food cravings)
- energy levels (poor sluggish energy, or hyperactivity)
- hormonal balancing (hypo and hyper thyroid, adrenal fatigue, abnormal weight gain)
- skin issues (dry, red, pale, irritated, rosacea, acne, sagging, wrinkly, hives, rashes)
- fluid retention
…to name a few!
There is no need to wait until you are in pain or have health issues before seeking alternative therapies. TCM acupuncture is a wonderful way of keeping yourself in optimal heath by preventing and correcting small imbalances that can become significant and lead to diseases. Often, patients can come for a ‘seasonal tune-up’ before the beginning of each season, or during or after a stressful event to help return the body in a state of well-being. Many patients come for acupuncture simply to experience of sense of deep relaxation and nourishment of energy. Your car is not the only thing that deserves a little Tune up every now and then! Maintenance and prevention is a key to a long healthy life.
What can I expect during treatment?
The first treatment will include a full medical history intake which will address your past and current health concerns. A preliminary assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan will be discussed. Diet and lifestyle as well as various recommendations maybe discussed to obtain best results. Depending on the patient and practitioner, initial intake and follow-up appointments can vary in average duration from 30min to 1.5 hours.
Acupuncture is usually virtually painless. Very fine, hair thin, single-use sterile needles are used to stimulate specific points or areas of the body. A patient may feel various sensations ranging from tingling, warmth or a slight pinprick at the needling site. After a treatment, you may feel a deep relaxation and a sense of well-being. When a patient is anxious about receiving acupuncture, a practitioner may first opt to to use very few needles to help the patient relax and get familiar with the sensation or even simply do acupressure and massage (Tuina) at specific areas instead of using needles. Practitioners understand the importance of offering patients a positive, relaxing and safe environment. Patients most often feel very relaxed and even fall asleep during treatments!
Changes frequently are felt at the first or second treatment, however, it may take 4-5 treatments to see more noticeable changes. Patients with chronic conditions may require more treatments. The frequency and numbers of treatments needed will depend on the nature and history of the problem; this could be noticeably shorter or longer depending on the healing potential of individual patients.
The application of needles is often used in combination with other modalities to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment. Most commonly used are Chinese herbs, Tuina (acupressure and massage), hot stone therapy, infra-red lamp, cupping, and gua sha (skin brushing), topical ointments to increase circulation and promote healing in the affected area. In addition, various style of acupuncture can be used (Japanese, Koreen, Chinese, Classical Five-Element acupuncture, Chinese and German auricular acupuncture) for example. Each practitioner has their unique style and approach to a treatment, and will bring a variety of techniques in order to get the best result for their patients.
Getting the Best Results with Acupuncture
Beneficial effects of acupuncture care can be enhanced by either doing or avoiding certain activities.
Before treatment: Refrain or reduce from overeating or eating upsetting foods, taking stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or drugs, being rushed, or extremely tired. Wear comfortable loose clothing.
After treatment: Try to relax and not exert yourself, get proper sleep, nutrition, and recreational exercise, as well as avoiding, if you can, stressful situations. Follow recommendations that will be given to you such as, prescribed exercises, diet, herbs, topical, therapies, self-massage for specific points of your body.
Follow-Through: A healing cycle has been initiated. It is important that you be consistent with keeping your appointments, because this will aid your healing timetable, leading to the most successful results. A practitioner is there to assist you in your recovery to heath, so maintain a positive and hopeful outlook!
Is Acupuncture covered by health coverage?
Acupuncture is covered by most medical health plans. It is always recommend that patients contact their insurance provider to inquire if their health plans cover acupuncture and the amount covered so you can better discuss a treatment plan with your practitioner.
What is a registered acupuncturist (R.Ac) ?
Presently, a registered acupuncturist (R.Ac.) is required to have a minimum of 1900 hours of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Oriental/Classical Medicine) and Acupuncture training that includes 450 hours of clinical practice. In order for an acupuncturist to be able to bill for acupuncture treatments, they must first be recognized by health providers by becoming registered with a recognized TCM acupuncture association. In addition, acupuncturist that practice in regulated provinces (BC, AB, ON, QU, NF) must pass a provincial board exam through a regulatory college for TCM and acupuncture to become licenced before being able to practice. Associations and Regulatory Colleges of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture help ensure a safe, professional practices that are up to date with evolving national standards for the practice of acupuncture in Canada.
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