With its history of use for thousands of years, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine work to rebalance the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”) or life force energy, in the body. Needles are inserted at specific points selected depending on the nature of the person’s health concerns. Symptoms are carefully assessed alongside your pulse and tongue diagnosis to determine patterns of disharmony and any inherent weakness that may be the underlying cause of illness.
Acupuncture can be used acutely for specific muscle pain or for more chronic conditions alongside dietary recommendations, herbs, and exercise.
Having had many acupuncture sessions myself, I admit I am a bit of a wimp when the needles are inserted. After that, though, acupuncture is a very relaxing and therapeutic treatment for many different health conditions. And it embodies naturopathic principles of treating the whole person, not just the illness.
If a person had a headache, questions would be asked many questions such as the quality of the pain, the timing, what makes it better or worse, is the person generally on the hot side or chillier side, do they perspire easily, what is their sleep like, etc. From that information, observations including pulse and tongue diagnosis would help with the selection of specific acupuncture points to be used.
We then seek to optimize the flow of Qi by stimulating certain points along the body’s energy channels, or meridians, through which Qi flows. There are hundreds of points on the 12 main meridians and other secondary meridians. These meridians occur symmetrically on both sides of the body.
Each of the 12 main meridians are associated with an organ. The main meridians are: lung, large intestine, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, pericardium, triple warmer, bladder, kidney, gallbladder and liver.
The points along the meridians can be stimulated with the insertion of very fine needles at different depths, depending on location on the body or effect desired. Applying pressure along the points, called acupressure, is also another method of moving and stimulating Qi.
The needles are usually left in for 15 to 20 minutes. Some people do notice the needles as they are inserted, but there should not be any lasting pain. Once the depth of insertion is met, there can be different sensations of heat, dull ache or slight itching that are temporarily felt.
After a treatment, I recommend people rest and take an easier day. People can feel drowsy and relaxed, or energised. If your treatment was for acute pain, the improvement may be felt quite soon after. For more chronic conditions, it would usually take more acupuncture sessions to notice improvement. The amount of sessions needed really depends on the individual and what needs to be treated.