Frequently Asked Questions about Acupuncture & Herbal medicine


Q: WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?

A: The traditions and techniques of acupuncture date back to the early fourth century and much the same philosophies and practices continue today. Acupuncture is based on the following major concepts:

  • The human body has fourteen principal channels or meridians of energy circulating around it passing through the head, torso, arms, internal organs, legs and feet in a continuous loop.
  • A subtle form of life’s vital energy known in Chinese as Qi (pronounced 'chee') circulates along these meridians interconnecting all parts and systems of the body bring vitality (life, energy) even to the remotest of cells.
  • Qi divides the living from the dead – without qi there can be no life. We can only experience true good health and well being when the flow of qi is not blocked or impeded in any way.
  • Pain, ill health and other bodily disfunction is an indication that the flow of qi has become blocked, misdirected or in some way unbalanced.
  • Acupuncture is the stimulation of different points along the meridians, often where the fourteen channels of energy flow interconnect. These acupoints can be stimulated by several different methods including massage, with needles, with heat, with suction, with burning or a combination of these. By stimulating the acupoints the practitioner is able to remove the blockage, inbalance or impediment and this allows qi to flow smoothly again, thus restoring balance and wellness to the system, and permitting the organs to work together harmoniously again.
  • Once acupuncture has restored the flow of qi to the body, organs and mind and has reestablished harmony and balance, it will be possible for the body to start to self repair and heal itself.

Q: WHAT CONDITIONS ARE TREATABLE BY ACUPUNCTURE?
A: In A: In Traditional Chinese medicine's terms, the only condition being treated is the inbalance of qi. But in Western medical terms, acupuncture has had very positive results in treating many hundreds of specific conditions. To find out which, click HERE.


 
Q: Q: WHAT ARE THE MAIN OBJECTIVES OF ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT?  

A: In Western terms, there are three main goals of acupuncture:

  • To relieve pain and any other symptoms
  • To strengthen and fortify the immune system.
  • To harmonize and balance the organs and systems and their functions between each other so that our bodies work in an integrated, interrelated way rather than as a disconnected and unrelated series of parts.

Q: WHAT ARE MERIDIANS?

A: Meridians or channels are the invisible paths along which qi – our vital life energy – flows. The existence of the meridians was realised many thousands of years ago by ancient Chinese doctors who discovered that there are 12 meridians symmetrically arranged on the right and left sides of the body and another two that flow up the center front and center back, along the spine. Modern acupuncturists also recognize the existence of numerous secondary meridians that interconnect between these principal 14.

 

The role of the meridians is to transport qi to every body cell in order to maintain balance and harmony between all these mutually dependent and interacting parts. After millennia of trial and error, and astute and painstaking observation, the ancient Chinese sages were able to map the general position of the meridians and to pinpoint the vast number of different points where qi can be stimulated so that blockages are removed and it can flow smoothly again.

 

Q: WHAT EXACTLY IS QI AND WHAT DOES IT DO?

A: The absence of qi is death so qi is often translated as vital life force, energy, essential life energy, etc. One way to understand the qi concept is to think of it as both an intrinsic part of each individual organ and cell, and at the same time as a separate force, linking everything together so that the system as a whole can function. But just as the organs and body systems need qi to be able to function, so qi needs the organs and function in order to exist. So physical form and being and life energy are intimately interrelated and mutually dependent – without one there can be no other.

 

Good health is dependent on the smooth flow of qi between all body systems and organs – muscles, skeleton, glands, digestive tract, lungs and heart, urinary tract and kidneys, nervous system, reproductive organs, within the blood and lymph, etc – no part is left out or untouched by qi. When we feel healthy and have a sense of wellbeing it is because qi is flowing smoothly along all the meridians interconnecting the body parts and systems and promoting harmony and balance in the entire organism.

 

When we feel unwell it is because qi is not able to flow smoothly and the body is out of balance. The practice of acupuncture aims to unblock the points where qi is impeded or misdirected so that it can flow normally again, and so the body will be able to self heal.

 

Q: WHAT BLOCKS THE FLOW OF QI?

A: Qi can be blocked by both internal and external factors. For example, toxins in food and water, infections, poor nutrition, organ malfunction, sprains, strains and injuries can all impede the flow of qi. Likewise, stress, anxiety, worry, emotional upsets, as well as excess of cold, heat, wind or damp can also block the smooth flow of qi.



Q: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE FLOW OF QI BECOMES BLOCKED?

A: When qi cannot flow smoothly we may experience pain, ill health, general dis-ease or malaise and a weakened immune system. If qi becomes blocked at one point then it probably has built up excessively in another part – much in the way that queues of cars build up behind a traffic jam. This may limit the activity of some organs or systems and increase the activity of others. The only way to restore the system to a properly functioning whole is to remove the cause of the blockage so that qi can flow unimpeded along the meridians again and body harmony and balance can be restored. This is the job of the acupuncturist.

Q: HOW DO YOU UNBLOCK QII?

A: We’ll first ask you a series of routine questions about your health and wellbeing and ask you why you are seeking acupuncture therapy. Once we have a clearer idea about where you are experiencing pain, discomfort or other symptoms we can decide which acupoints appear to be affected and proceed either with inserting fine metal needles into these places, or by stimulating these points with other heat or massage methods. Usually around 12 acupoints are stimulated during any one session although this varies with each patient. We may also prescribe herbalist remedies to further assist in relieving your ailment.



Q: DO THE NEEDLES HURT?

A: Patients usually feel little or nothing! Acupuncture needles are so fine and thin – about the diameter of a human hair – that you will feel very little sensation when they are inserted. Some people report a slight tingle but not much else. Most first time patients relax after the first needle has been inserted when they realize how pain free the whole experience really is.

 

Q: WHAT IS INVOLVED IN ACUPUNCTURE DIAGNOSIS?

A: The acupuncturist aims to find out where the flow of qi is blocked. There are several different techniques for doing this, some of them incredibly sophisticated, such as the use of electronic diagnostic tools in the Ryodoraku and similar methods. Traditionally though, the following techniques have served acupuncturists for centuries in diagnosing where the flow of qi has become impeded in some way:

  • Pulse Diagnosis –An expert practitioner can tell from taking the pulse at different parts of the body where qi’s flow has become blocked or built up and how this disharmony is affecting or may be affected by the disfunction of different organs.
  • Observing the Patient –We will check your tongue, skin and hair to take note of their condition, colour and texture and listen to your voice to see if it sounds strong or weak, low or high pitched, clear or hoarse, throaty or clear… These are all valuable diagnostic tools in the hands of an experienced traditional Chinese medicine practitioner.he hair, of the voice - its strength or weakness - high or low pitch- hoarse - throaty.  Answers here confirm many health issues.
  • Patient Interview- By talking to you in depth we try to find out the historical details of your condition. We will ask you about your symptoms and about your feelings, diet, lifestyle and emotions. Since all these are interconnected and affect and are affected by blockages in the smooth flow of qi.
  • Physical Exam – This will reveal where you have any tender spots on your body which will help us to pinpoint accurately where there is a blockage in the flow of qi along the meridians. Since each acupoint is intimately related to a different specific area of the body, tenderness in one or more places can be a clear indication to the acupuncture practitioner of which organ or system is most affected, and where acupuncture therapy should best be focused.

Q: BESIDES NEEDLES, WHAT OTHER ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENTS ARE THERE?

A: Any physical stimulus on an acupointwill have some sort of effect. We can use acupressure – which is the massaging of the acupoint, or electrical stimulation (sometimes into the needles themselves) or massage with a blunt instrument, lasers, cold, heat, ultrasound, cupping, moxibustion (the burning of the mugwort herb), or a combination of these. The choice of which type of acupuncture therapy is up to the practitioner who will bear in mind your condition, age, physical shape, history and the desired effect in deciding which method to use.

 

Q: HOW TO KNOW WHICH ACUPOINTS TO TREAT?

A: Acupuncture’s most important goal is always to remove the blockage in qi’s flow so that it can move smoothly and unimpeded along the meridians and carry life energy evenly throughout the body, thus restoring balance and harmony. Only when qi is flowing smoothly in this way will the body be able to heal itself. So the most important decision for the acupuncture practitioner is: which is the best and most appropriate acupoint to stimulate to remove the blockage of qi to resolve your particular health issues? This is where both the experience of your practitioner and, even more important, the documented experience of millennia, plays an important role. There are many written accounts of traditional formulas available in books and charts that clearly describe an enormous range of different health problems and their symptoms and indicate which acupoints are most appropriately targeted in order to restore harmony. These formulas have worked for many billions of sick people over the centuries and will probably be the starting point for treating your specific condition too.


Q: HOW MANY TREATMENTS AND HOW OFTEN?

A: There is no set treatment time. This always varies depending on the patient and the condition that is being treated. Usually at first we recommend 2-4 treatments per week and a minimum of 8-16 sessions in all. Acute conditions tend to respond more quickly than chronic conditions – sometimes after only one or two treatments. But everybody is different and you may need to continue with your acupuncture for several months before noting any change. There are even patients who do not respond, despite the practitioner’s skill and efforts.




Q: ARE ACUPUNCTURE NEEDLES SAFE AND STERILE?

A: Of course. Acupuncture is regulated by government codes, one of which calls for strict sterilization procedures similar to those required by regular hospitals. The law also requires that all acupuncture needles are presterilized after manufacture and before packing and that they are shipped to Canada in sterilized.

 

Q: HOW LONG DO TREATMENTS TAKE?

A: The usual acupuncture session lasts about half an hour, though this may vary slightly depencing on your condition. The first diagnostic session will take longer – about an hour - since we will be asking you questions and carrying out the physical exam before starting treatment.




Q: DO ALL ACUPUNCTURISTS USE THE SAME METHODS?

A: There is no doubt that the basic premise of acupuncture remains the same for all acupuncturists – ie to remove blockages and stimulate the healthy flow of qi to restore harmony and balance and allow the body to self-heal. However, there may be variations in the diagnostic techniques employed by different practitioners and even in the selection of which acupoints to treat. Western scientific investigations and new technologies have suggested new acupoints to stimulate that may further aid in treating different conditions, as well as alternative methods of inserting needles. So techniques do vary vary between traditional acupuncturists and those who embrace more modern schools of thought.

 

Q: IS ACUPUNCTURE PRACTICED IN AMERICAN MEDICAL INSTITUTIONS?

A: Yes. It is becoming an increasingly accepted and highly valued practice in many hospitals, pain management centres, wellness institutes, clinics, doctor’s offices, rehabilitation centres and specialist practices including dental, veterinary and chiropractic surgeries.

Q: IS ACUPUNCTURE PRACTICED IN NORTH AMERICAN MEDICAL INSTITUTIONS?

A: Yes. It is becoming an increasingly accepted and highly valued practice in many hospitals, pain management centres, wellness institutes, clinics, doctor’s offices, rehabilitation centres and specialist practices including dental, veterinary and chiropractic surgeries.

 

Q: ARE ACUPUNCTURE’S RESULTS DUE TO HYPNOTIC SUGGESTION?

A: With human beings there is always an interplay in the potential positive or negative psychosomatic response to any treatment which cannot be ruled out. However, animals react instinctively and do not have this type of mind-body response. Since acupuncture has been used very successfully in many veterinary clinics this suggests that body’s response to acupuncture is a physical one and not the result of hypnosis or other psychosomatic processes. At the same time, traditional Chinese medicine recognizes that mental processes – emotion, belief, states of mind, mood, spirit – are intimately interconnected with physical body processes so the mind-body interaction also plays a part in the success or failure of treatment.



Q: WHAT ABOUT HAND AND EAR ACUPUNCTURE?

A: Chinese traditional medicine believes that the surface of the ear can be read anan invisible map of a fetus and that stimulating the specific points on the ear will have a concomitant effect on the corresponding body part, system or organ. Ear points are often stimulated as a way to treat pain, for weight loss, drug and alcohol addictions, and other chronic conditions. Similarly, there are very many acupoints on the hand that likewise can affect different body organs and systems – migraines in particular respond well to hand stimulation as well as numerous other conditions.

 

Q: WHEN WAS ACUPUNCTURE FIRST USED?

A: Acupuncture existed long before its philosophies and formulas were first written down. We have documentation dating back to between 300-100 BC, but it is such a complete and extensive compilation that clearly the practice had been used for many years before that. Archaeological finds suggest that rudimentary forms of acupuncture may have existed as far back as 5-7,000 years. So it is clearly one of the world’s oldest forms of medical therapy.

 

Q: IS ACUPUNCTURE THE ONLY ASPECT OF CHINESE MEDICINE?

A: No. Acupuncture is perhaps the most well known but in actually fact there are three fields to traditional Chinese medicine – the others are a mental and physical discipline known as Qi Gong and the use Herbalist Medicine. However, all have the same fundamental aim of restoring and maintaining the healthy flow of qi to keep the body balanced and in harmony in order to promote wellness and good health. Your acupuncture practitioner may well introduce elements of both Qi Gong and herbal medicine into your acupuncture treatment plan in order to support your further healing.

 

Q: HOW DO I EXPLAIN ACUPUNCTURE TO MY FRIENDS?

A: There is still a great deal of ignorance about acupuncture in the West and often the people who could most benefit are the ones who know least about its therapeutic effects. The best way often to introduce acupuncture is to talk about your own experiences and explain how it has helped you. There is no need to get technical – simple descriptive explanations are the most effective, particular if you explain the difference in how you felt before and after your acupuncture treatment.

Let your friend know that acupuncture is about restoring a sense of balance, harmony and well being so that you can live and enjoy life to the full. Word of mouth recommendations like this are what bring most of our client to our Best of Chinese Medicine clinic.

 

Q: DOES ACUPUNCTURE RELIEVE PAIN?

A: Pain is always an indicator that something is wrong with our bodies. Chronic pain, in particular, is often the major reason why Western people seek acupuncture, particularly after they have spent some time taking medications that mask the pain but do not resolve the underlying issue. There are many types of pain including different levels of aches (such as headache, tooth ache) etc, throbbing pain, stabbing pains, sensation of pressure, mental anguish, etc. Acupuncture’s world-wide reputation is largely based on the fact that it works by both relieving the sensation of pain and at the same time resolving the underlying issue that is causing the discomfort in the first place.

 

Q: WILL ACUPUNCTURE RELIEVE MY "STRESSED-OUT" FEELINGS?

A: Life in the twenty-first century can leave us feeling as if we are always running but never arriving. This constant fast pace can leave us anxious, negative, worried, depressed and feeling like we live in a pressure cooker. Most acupuncturists believe that our stressful lifestyles contribute in a major way to the blockages and inbalances in our flow of qi and is the reason so many of us suffer from high blood pressure, headaches, heart disease, anxiety, depression and other physical conditions that can be brought on by stress.  Regular and repeated periodic sessions of acupuncture can help to keep qi flowing smoothly so that we feel less pressurized, more balanced, more in harmony and so more able to cope with life’s every day challenges. The sense of wellbeing that acupuncture can bring is an important factor in keeping the body and mind healthy and functioning at its best.

 

Q: WHAT ABOUT ACUPUNCTURE FOR SENIORS?

A: Acupuncture is becoming an increasingly popular treatment for seniors, many of whom have suffered for years from chronic pain and other conditions that Western medicine has been unable to resolve. Often such seniors seek acupuncture as a type of ‘last resort’ when they consider that all else has failed. Other senior may experience flare ups of problems from their past – such as aching in a bone that was broken years ago, or reduced mobility from long forgotten knee or shoulder trauma. For these and other aches and pains that are common to our later years, acupuncture can be a very effective form of pain relief and a way to relieve stiffness, increase mobility and so generate a renewed sense of youthful wellbeing. Qi Gong in particular is an excellent form of exercise for seniors since it is gentle and does not strain the body in any way. In addition, once you have learned the techniques it can easily be practiced in your own home. Talk to your practitioner to find out where qi gong classes are held near to your home.

Q: HOW VALID ARE ANCIENT CHINESE HERBAL REMEDIES?

A: Most of the formulas behind Chinese herbal remedies date back many thousands of years and are the result of centuries of trial and error on vast numbers of human patients. The fact that such remedies are still being used today suggests that they have been successfully used on many millions of sick people through the ages. Modern science is increasingly becoming aware of the amazing power of herbal and other natural medicines on our bodies and can provide scientific evidence of their beneficial effects. So today’s practitionists are able to draw from both western science and ancient schools of thought in deciding which herbal remedies to prescribe to their patients.

 

Q: WHAT IS QI GONG?

A: Qi Gong is a gentle, flowing form of exercise that has evolved to enhance both mental vitality and physical energy. It is a way of directing qi to flow through specific meridians and to various organs in order to promote balance and harmony. Its calming, soothing, relaxing effects can be likened to those of yoga.

 

Q: WHAT ABOUT YIN AND YANG?

A: The concept of yin and yang is still quite foreign to Western schools of thought but it is a basic premise in Oriental philosophies.Luckily, this in no way affects the ability of acupuncture or other forms of traditional Chinese healing to work their magic. However, understanding the Chinese school of thought is an enlightening experience and will help you further benefit from your therapy.

 

According to Chinese culture and philosophy, everything universe has bothpositive (yang) and negative(yin) influences..  Yin can be summed up as dark, yang as light; or yin as night, yang as day, etc. So, for example, the shady side of a hill is considered as yin and is balanced by the sunny side which is considered as yang. Like qi, yin and yang cannot be seen and are constantly in motion. So everything is always is a little yin or a little yang, never totally one or the other – they oppose and balance each other within every element of our universe.

 

The yin and yang concept is a fundamental concept of Chinese medicine and the familiar symbol is an excellent image of the never-ending balancing act that is constantly taking place within our bodily systems and organs, right down to the tiniest cell level and even within qi itself.

 

In Chinese medicine, well being and good health can only exist when yin and yang are in harmony and balanced throughout our being, both physically and mentally.Acupuncture’s goal is to achieve this balance.

 

When you look at the Yin-YangSymbol, yin is dark, yang is white.Within each segment there is a small circle of the opposite colour which reminds us that each opposing force always contains a small amount of the other force. The curving line that divides the two represent the continually fluctuating and constantly changing interplay between these opposing forces.

 

Q: WHAT BROUGHT ACUPUNCTURE TO THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA?

A: The first mentions of acupuncture in the West were in the early 1970s after USA president Richard Nixon visited China and our newspapers started to write about miracle cures and healing arts that were virtually unknown in our society.

 

These reports wrote that Chinese surgeons inserted needles into specific points in their patients; bodies in order to block pain, and that their patients were able to remain conscious throughout their procedures without experiencing any discomfort. Other reports discussed the numerous human illnesses and diseases that acupuncture appeared to have cured.

 

This appealed to the American psyche and so acupuncture caught on and its popularity has been steadily growing ever since, even more so as Western science started to investigate for itself and is finding that much of acupuncture claims it can do is backed up by rigorous scientific evidence.

 

An estimated 15 million Americans try acupuncture for the first time every year and find out for themselves that it can be truly helpful and healing. That is why we have taken time to review our practices and philosophy in detail here in our web site because we know that with our traditional Chinese medicine techniques we can bring much needed pain relief and restore well being in many people who continue to suffer needlessly because they have not yet found out how acupuncture cand other ancient Chinese therapies can help.



(Source: The Acupuncture Answer Book)


BACK TO THE TOP OF FAQ LIST