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Is Acupuncture Good For Me?

Are you wondering if you should try acupuncture this year or add this ancient health modality to your health care regime in 2022?

Acupuncture is a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Classical Acupuncture involves the use of hair-thin needles, which are inserted into the skin to reduce pain and promote better health. Acupuncture has been used in Asia for thousands of years. In Asia it is used to treat a variety of ailments as well as to prevent future illness. In Alberta acupuncture is a regulated health profession. That means there are certain guidelines and rules acupuncturists must follow to practice acupuncture in the province.

As with conventional treatments, acupuncture is not a guaranteed cure for any disease. Some conditions are more successfully treated with acupuncture than others. Some conditions require one or two sessions while others may require up to eight. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as a treatment option for

  • Respiratory conditions such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and asthma

  • Eye and mouth disorders for e.g. toothache, conjunctivitis and cataracts

  • Gastrointestinal disorders for e.g. diarrhea, constipation, ulcers and gastritis

  • Neurological and musculoskeletal disorders such as sciatica, frozen shoulder, lower back pain, migraines and headaches

  • Reproductive and gynecological conditions such as amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, and infertility

  • And mental and emotional disorders for e.g. depression and anxiety

Science has put acupuncture to the test on a variety of conditions. One study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found acupuncture provides real relief for different forms of pain. The study- which involved approximately 18,000 participants- found acupuncture relieved pain by 50%. This according to Harvard Health Publishing, is comparable to conventional care relief.

Many who try acupuncture have already tried conventional options. Acupuncture is not the best option for new and acute conditions. For these types of conditions, it’s always best to check in with your primary health care provider to rule out serious medical concerns that should be treated immediately.

At your first treatment the acupuncturist will ask about your medical history and symptoms. They will likely ask questions that may seem unrelated to your primary concern. They may also look at your tongue and feel your pulse at your wrists to have a better understanding of your overall health. Based on their findings they will diagnose you using Traditional Chinese Medicine nomenclature. They may use terms such as ‘qi stagnation’ or ‘qi deficiency’ to define your ailments. Then they will needle certain spots along your body, to promote healing. Needle insertion for the most part is quite painless. At most you may feel a slight pinch when some needles are inserted, then a heaviness, radiating or dull like sensation around the needled area. Painful needle insertion although possible is quite uncommon. Needles usually remain inserted from 10 to 30 minutes. Some clients find this part of the experience very relaxing. Some clients even sleep during this period. Needle removal and a few follow up remarks usually end the session.

In the hands of a qualified acupuncturist side effects from acupuncture- such as bruising and bleeding - are minimal. Serious complications in the hands of qualified practitioners are also rare. Ask your doctor if acupuncture may be an option for you and discuss with a qualified acupuncturist how many sessions would be necessary to help you achieve and maintain your health goals. Licensed acupuncture practitioners in Alberta can be found on the College of Acupuncturists of Alberta webpage.

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