What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is defined as the insertion of acupuncture needles into the body for a therapeutic and healing effect. The needles are inserted into acupuncture points along meridians, or channels of Qi (electromagnetic vital life force energy).
How does it work?
There are 12 primary channels of Qi and each one of them corresponds to a different major organ system (Lung, Large Intestine, Stomach, Spleen, etc.). Each Trajectory has varying functions and along them are points with more specific functions within the scope of those channels. As the practitioner attains “De Qi,” or strong Qi sensation (often described as a deep aching, soreness, or mild electrical sensation), the point delivers the message of it’s function to the body, which could be something like - “relax the mind”, “more Qi here”, “move this Qi over there”, “disperse some Qi”, “relax this muscle”, “make more fluids”, etc.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Most of the time, no. Sometimes yes, but very mildly and it is usually over in less than a minute. If pain continues to be felt after a minute, the practitioner will adjust the positioning of the needles. Most people agree that it is less painful than receiving an immunization or having blood drawn given the comparatively smaller size of the acupuncture needles.
Is acupuncture safe?
Are there any side effects?
Here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say about the safety of acupuncture:
The risks of acupuncture are low if you have a competent, certified acupuncture practitioner. Possible side effects and complications include:
Soreness – After acupuncture, you might have soreness, minor bleeding or bruising at the needle sites.
Organ injury – If the needles are pushed in too deeply, they could puncture an internal organ — particularly a lung. This is an extremely rare complication in the hands of an experienced practitioner.
Infections – Licensed acupuncturists are required to use sterile, disposable needles. A reused needle could expose you to diseases, such as hepatitis.
Are the needles big?
Acupuncture needles are substantially smaller than a hypodermic syringe and even a sewing needle. The width, or gauge, of the needle is within the range of .15mm -30mm and the length varies from .5 inch - 2 inches, depending on what is needed during the treatment.
How many treatments does it take to be effective?
Every patient is different, making every treatment plan unique. Varying amounts of relief are often felt after a treatment but it may take up to 7-10 treatments before one can adequately assess if the treatments are successful. Generally, acute issues take less time and treatments to resolve, and more chronic issues and serious issues will take longer. The practitioner will also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes as part of the treatment plan, which will help shorten the amount of time needed to heal.
Do I have to believe in it for it to work?
No, you don’t have to believe in it for it to work. Just keep an open mind and notice how you feel afterward.