Updated: Apr 5
Acupuncture is defined in the Online Cambridge Dictionary (Cambridge Dictionary) as “treatment for pain or illness in which thin needles are positioned just under the surface of the skin at special points around the body.” It was seeing this very definition come to life while I was a patient of an acupuncturist (during my travels in Hong Kong) that ignited a magic spark within me to pursue this path as a career. The very act of placing hair-fine needles on specific locations of the body to alleviate pain and certain chronic conditions fascinated me and I immediately enrolled myself in an Acupuncture and TCM program in Melbourne, Australia; completing my Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Biology-Chinese Medicine five years later.
Over the course of the last 8 (almost 9!) years, I’ve seen the rewarding results of using acupuncture on my patients – treating conditions ranging from muscle and joint pain; to insomnia, anxiety and coping with life changes; to managing the severity of withdrawal from cutting down pain or depression / anxiety medications, to reducing the severity of respiratory tract infections or, the frequency and pain from headaches.
Personally however, I started noticing that my female patients (women from all walks of life, ages and with varying degrees of health) began coming in to seek treatments more often for women’s health conditions alone. It got to a point where more than half of my patients in the various practices I have worked in were made up primarily of women all seeking one thing: comprehensive and holistic treatments that addressed their issues in a gentle, natural way and in a comfortable one on one environment.
I have always had an interest in using acupuncture a for the natural management of women’s health but by the end of my first two years of practice, using acupuncture for women’s health became a serious passion for me. I have had very satisfying results in helping women to manage period pain (dysmenorrhea) or excessive, heavy bleeding (menorrhagia), enhance fertility (whether by natural means or assisting in the IVF process), prepare a woman for the birthing process (acupuncture can be used in labour induction and as a means of helping the cervix to ripen) as well as helping to reduce the discomfort of the symptoms associated with endometriosis (whether they be emotional, physical or a combination of both) and/or some of the symptoms of menopause (ranging from hot flash management, to excessive and alternating sweating and chills, to moodiness and alleviating mental fatigue).
I’m always so rewarded by the results of what I see happen in my patients when their bodies start to respond and regulate themselves after a few ongoing treatment sessions. When I see them start feeling more energized and less moody just before their periods start or, when they call me and let me know that their IVF procedures have all gone well and were successful I am over the moon. However, nothing tops the feeling when a patient sends me photos of their babies soon after they are born and I get to be included in the celebration of a new life!
Before wrapping up, I thought I would also include a little Acupuncture 101 since I still get asked some of these questions while in a session with a patient or over the phone while I speak to the acupuncture-curious.
Acupuncture Q&A – for the Acupuncture Newbie
What is acupuncture?
We have defined acupuncture a little earlier, a few paragraphs back. In general, acupuncture involves inserting a fine stainless steel needle into specific acupoints that are found along the different meridians (channels and pathways of “qi” or natural energy) of the human body. It is believed that blockages to the natural movement of qi leads to pain, disease or chronic illness and that the insertion and manipulation of these acupuncture needles in the correct positions of the body, help to release the stagnation and allow the disease to leave the body.
What sorts of needles are used?
We use fine, stainless steel needles that are single-use only and disposable. They are blister packed in pre-sterlized packages and come in a variety of different lengths and thicknesses.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Because the needles used in acupuncture are so thin, the patient generally feels only a very quick prick when it is initially tapped onto the surface of the skin. Once past the superficial layer, there is minimal sensation (unless manipulation techniques are used on the needle).
Some patients report feeling a sensation of pressure on the spot where the needle is inserted or, even a slight “dull” feeling – much like a minor ache or soreness. Some even report a feeling of tingling, warmth or when treating febrile conditions, general coolness after a few minutes of treatment.
What can I use acupuncture for?
Acupuncture can be used safely and effectively to alleviate and manage the symptoms of a variety of ailments including (but not only limited to):
Arthritis and joint pain
Diabetes and metabolic syndromes
Headaches and migraines
Managing women’s health: including menopause, assisting in natural birth, easing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, maintaining a woman’s health prior to, during and after pregnancy
The common cold and flu
Stress and anxiety
Depression / Anxiety / Mood Disorders
Maintain general overall well-being
Constipation and/or diarrhea
Managing the side effects of chemotherapy (nausea, loss of appetite, swelling of the limbs, anxiety)
Digestive tract related ailments (ulcerative colitis, Chron’s disease, IBS)
How many sessions will I need?
Because conditions affect each person differently, it is recommended that a patient first has an initial assessment with the practitioner before an individually tailored treatment program is decided upon. Conditions can vary depending on factors such as age of the patient, how long he/she has had it for, whether the condition is chronic or if it is acute. A discussion with the practitioner will help ascertain the number of treatment sessions appropriate for the particular patient.
Can I use acupuncture along with other modalities of treatment?
Yes you can! Acupuncture is a great complement to other forms of treatment including massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic therapy, homeopathic treatments, naturopathic treatments and/or general western medicine treatments to name a few!
Is acupuncture safe?
In most cases where the practitioner has been properly trained by the appropriate educational institution (usually at tertiary level for up to five years for a degree level certification) and licensed by the appropriate regulatory body, acupuncture is a safe and effective, natural treatment for all patients of all ages.
What do I need to prepare for an acupuncture session?
Generally it is recommended that a patient has eaten prior to receiving acupuncture. A small light snack (such as an apple, a handful of nuts or seeds etc) is appropriate as not eating anything before you have treatment can sometimes cause the patient to feel faint during the session.
Before receiving treatment, you will be asked whether you have had any food in the last 2-3 hours. If you haven’t, treatment may in some cases be declined.
Clothing should be loose-fitting and not too tight as you may be requested to roll up your pant legs or shirt sleeves to allow the practitioner to use acu-points along the arms or legs. Sometimes clothing may need to be removed to be able to access points on the upper thighs, back, stomach or chest. Although towels are provided for a session, it is recommended that a light jacket or scarf be brought along for additional warmth since the body temperature drops slightly as the patient relaxes during a treatment.
Be prepared to fall asleep in some cases. We are more than happy to wake you at the appropriate time should you require!
Are you interested in using acupuncture as your natural tool? Daryl Fang would be happy to answer your questions. Contact us to book a complimentary consultation.
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