What Is It Really Like To Have Acupuncture?
If you’re on pins and needles worrying about getting acupuncture, there is no need to stress. We have insider info on the procedure.
What is the deal with acupuncture?
Acupuncture is said to help with pretty much anything, from fertility to pain. So, no wonder you are curious about it. And we are too.
That’s why we connected with Dr. Nekessa Remy, a chiropractor with specialties in medical and traditional Chinese acupuncture. Find out everything you need to know about your acupuncture appointment.
How does Acupuncture work?
Like sex and shiny hair, acupuncture is not like what you see in the movies. No, you won’t look or feel like a pin cushion. And it’s not a trendy treatment, but one that has been around for thousands of years. Here is how it works.
The acupuncturist says: “According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is based on the theory that essential life energy, called Qi, pronounced chi, flows through the body along channels called meridians,” says Remy. “Each meridian is connected to a specific internal organ. When the flow of Qi is blocked or out of balance, illness or pain results. The stimulation of acupuncture points along the meridians releases the blockage of Qi and promotes the smooth natural flow of energy, restoring balance and health to the body’s systems.”
The history behind acupuncture
Even though it may be new to you, acupuncture is one established treatment.
The acupuncturist says: “Acupuncture is believed to have originated in China,” explains Remy. “Sharpened stones and bones that scientists believe were used to perform acupuncture date from about 6,000 BCE. That’s 8,000 years ago!” She references a 2011 review from the Peninsula Medical School. “The first text describing an organized system of acupuncture treatment appears in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, which dates from about 100 BCE.”
What are the different types of acupuncture?
Now, this is super interesting. There are many types of acupuncture. And that’s because of the different needles, the techniques used to apply them, as well as what they treat and more.
The acupuncturist says: There are tons! Based in Canada, you will likely have access to dry needling, Japanese, Korean, Korean hand, auricular (ear needles) and medical treatment. Korean acupuncture, don’t be surprised by the number of needles used on you. “It is not uncommon to have close to a hundred needles in one session,” says Remy. And “medical” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “healthier” or more credible. “When a Western Doctors performs Acupuncture, it is defined as medical acupuncture.” It is often used for pain management.
Does it hurt? Is it safe?
When you prick your finger with a pin, it hurts. But this is not the same thing. Like, at all.
The acupuncturist says: “Acupuncture should not be painful when performed by a qualified practitioner,” says Remy. “However, some patients do report sensations such as tingling, aching, heaviness etc. In fact, many patients become very relaxed and may even fall asleep with this form of healthcare frequently being described as a period of deep stillness in which nothing seems to be happening. As everyone responds differently to treatment, some patients may feel the relaxation described above, whereas others may feel energized. Your practitioner will ensure that you are comfortable throughout the treatment.”
What should we know before our first appointment?
Like going to the doctor, you should be prepared ahead of time. Not only will you be more comfortable, it will also help you get better results from the treatment
The acupuncturist says: “Wear loose, comfortable clothing to allow access to knees and elbows without being restrictive,” says Remy. So, wear shorts and a tank top, just in case it will help them to better access the area you need to be treated with acupuncture. And, don’t forget to eat. “It’s never a good idea to receive an acupuncture treatment on an empty stomach,” says Remy. Even a light snack prior to treatment will help you feel more comfortable. Also, she adds, because you might become very relaxed at your appointment, you might feel “off” after the treatment. “This may include feeling dazed, calm or peaceful, unable to focus or concentrate. It’s always a good idea to drink lots of water after treatment.”
How it may help with women’s health issues
I’ve known friends who have had acupuncture for fertility. But that’s not all.
The acupuncturist says: “Acupuncture can be used to help women through most stages in life,” says Remy. “It can be used to manage painful periods, boost infertility, manage symptoms with pregnancy nausea and morning sickness, to induce labor if past due date to manage menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, sleeping disturbances et cetera.”
How it may help with sports injuries
Many professional athletes use acupuncture to help their bodies heal from physical injuries.
The acupuncturist says: “Acupuncture can be used to treat various sports injuries including ankle sprains, rotator cuff injuries, tennis elbow, runner’s knee and more,” says Remy. And this is why: “Acupuncture helps the body to reduce swelling and inflammation which is often seen with [these] injuries and it can also be used to relax muscles tension and promote healing.”
But it’s not just physical – mental health issues may benefit
The science community is showing interest in how acupuncture might help with depression and anxiety.
The acupuncturist says: “There is emerging evidence showing that acupuncture can be an effective tool for treating anxiety and depression,” says Remy, sharing this study. And, “there is also new evidence showing that acupuncture can work as well as anti-depressants in treating depression,” she adds, sourcing this study.
Might help reduce headaches and migraines
Headaches are a headache, but Remy suggests acupuncture might be solution.
The acupuncturist says: “In 2009, after researchers from the Center for Complementary Medicine at the University of Munich reviewed over 11 studies involving 2,137 acupuncture patients,” says Remy. The conclusion: Acupuncture “could be a valuable non-pharmacological tool in patients with frequent chronic tension-type headaches.”
Just might help you finally quit smoking
There are a ton of smoking cessation products out there, and acupuncture is another.
The acupuncturist says: “Acupuncture can help ease the cravings associated with quitting smoking,” says Remy, adding that it may also help to “detox” the body to further reduce nicotine cravings. She points to this research.
What else? What else should we know about acupuncture?
Despite being around forever, acupuncture continues to be studied by doctors and researchers. But we do know a lot, too.
The acupuncturist says: Remy says the World Health Organization (WHO) endorses acupuncture as an effective treatment for many different conditions because of the evidence in controlled trials. Here they are: Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy, allergic rhinitis (including hay fever), depression, dysmenorrhoea (painful periods), facial pain, headache, hypertension, inducing labour, knee pain, lower back pain, malposition and correcting of fetus, morning sickness, nausea and vomiting, neck pain, periarthritis of shoulder (frozen shoulder), post-surgery pain, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, sprains, stroke and tennis elbow.