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Acupuncture is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine, a 3,000-year-old therapy that understands disease as a disruption in the flow of energy Qi or Chi (pronounced Chee). Qi flows along pathways in your body, called meridians. Your acupuncturist will insert solid, thin needles into acupressure points along these meridians. The point can be further activated by gently twisting the needle or stimulating it using an electrical current. Other stimulation techniques include massage, heat, cupping, and topical herbal medicines. Activation of the points restores the flow of Qi, allowing the body’s self-healing response through various physiological systems. Modern research has corroborated acupuncture’s positive effects on the nervous, endocrine, immune, cardiovascular, and digestive systems. Acupuncture can help to resolve pain and improve sleep, digestive function, and hormone balance.

What happens in an acupuncture session? First, your practitioner will take your health history and find out your health goals for your treatment. The practitioner will then assess your health by examining your tongue and taking your pulses. She will then create a treatment plan that involves rebalancing your Qi by stimulating specific points. You will then lie on a comfortable table; she will insert the hair thin needles into those points and allow you to rest for about 30 minutes while the needles do their magic. She may also use moxibustion (a burning herb) to stimulate certain points, massage for relaxation, or topical herbal medicines for specific conditions. Some people feel energized after an acupuncture treatment, others feel relaxed and calm. 

National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies have shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment alone or in combination with conventional therapies to treat the following:

  • Nausea caused by surgical anesthesia and cancer chemotherapy

  • Dental pain after surgery

  • Addiction

  • Headaches

  • Menstrual cramps

  • Tennis elbow

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Myofascial pain

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Low back pain

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Asthma

More research is needed, but acupuncture treatment is also promising for the following conditions:

  • Headaches

  • Migraines

  • Sore throat

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Postoperative pain

  • Stroke

  • Rhinitis

  • Sinusitis

  • Bronchitis

  • Mid back and neck pain

  • Sciatica

  • Gastritis

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Hepatitis

  • Neurogenic bladder dysfunction

  • Irritable bladder

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Menstrual pain

  • Infertility

  • Prostatitis

  • Male infertility

It’s always good to check with your doctor before starting a series of acupuncture treatments. Be sure to give your acupuncturist a complete health history especially if you have the following conditions: pregnancy, pacemaker, breast (or other) implants, compromised immune system, or chronic skin conditions. A complete list of your medications and supplements is also important to avoid any drug or herbal interactions.

As you can see, acupuncture can be very effective for a range of conditions. It’s also a great way to relax and destress!

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