What Conditions Can Acupuncture Treat?

Acupuncture textbooks list well over one hundred different conditions that respond well to acupuncture. The World Health Organization, working in concert with the International Acupuncture Training Centre of the Shanghai College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, recognizes acupuncture as a safe, effective, drug-free therapy, which can address a wide range of common aliments and problems. It has been proven effective in treating the following conditions, among others:

Addictions – smoking, alcohol       Meniere’s Disease
Anxiety       Menopause
Allergies       Menstrual Irregularities
Arthritis       Migraines
Asthma       Morning Sickness
Back Pain       PMS
Common Cold       Sciatica
Cosmetic Acupuncture       Sinusitis
Depression       Sports Injuries
Dermatological Conditions       Stroke
Digestive Problems       Trigeminal Neuralgia
Fatigue       TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)
Fibromyalgia       Weight Loss
Hypertension       Infertility

This is only a partial list of the numerous conditions acupuncture has been credited with helping.

How Many Acupuncture Treatments Are Needed?

The recommended number of treatments varies with the condition and the patient. Chronic problems generally require more treatment than acute ones. Some patients notice an immediate improvement after the first treatment: others may not see a change until the seventh or eighth. It’s been shown that a certain percentage of patients receive maximum benefit up to three months following a course of therapy.

A small number of patient symptoms may be temporarily heightened as the body’s energies return to balance. The phenomenon is usually followed by improvement. The regular course of treatment runs between 8 to 16 sessions, with one to four visits each week.

Patients are urged not to enter an acupuncture program with the idea of “taking a few” to see what happens. Even though it is possible to achieve success, a program of 10 visits usually proves more effective. All practitioners advise patience with the healing process. If treatments are recommended and results occur in just five visits, the doctor may elect to discontinue treatments or continue their use to stabilize the condition.

Are Results From Acupuncture Permanent?

For acute problems where there has been little or no organ system or tissue damage, results are often permanent. For chronic conditions, symptoms may recur from time to time. Generally a few additional treatments are sufficient to obtain relief. It’s suggested that patients with severe or chronic conditions return for a booster treatment two to three times a year.

Are Acupuncture Results Psychological?

Many critics of acupuncture have suggested the science is hypnosis, a case of “mind over matter”. But its effectiveness on both toddlers and animals undercuts that assertion. Acupuncture as an anesthetic during surgery further confounds skeptics, many themselves reporting favorable responses to this ancient medicine. An open mind, however, certainly helps.

What Is a Typical Acupuncture Treatment?

On the initial appointment, patients complete a health history questionnaire. The acupuncturist then interviews the patient on primary health concerns, lifestyle, diet, emotions, sleep, appetite, digestion, stress, etc. During that discussion, the acupuncturist will also conduct a physical examination, carefully noting her/his appearance, voice, tongue condition and pulse to establish a working diagnosis. An appropriate course of treatment is then determined.

A session is usually completed within an hour – often 45 minutes – including initial consultation. The acupuncturist may incorporate the following techniques during the treatment:

 Moxibustion – heating of acupuncture needles with dried herb sticks to activate and warm the acupuncture point. Also known as “moxa”.

** Moxibustion is a method whereby mugwort (artemesia vulgaris) is used to apply heat to an acupuncture point.

• Cupping – the application of glass cups to create suction on the skin. This is to relieve stagnation of qi and blood, e.g. in sports injury.

• Use of herbal medicine – Chinese herbs may be given in the form of teas, pills, and capsules to supplement acupuncture treatment.

• Electrostimulation – providing electrical stimulation to two to four acupuncture needles can provide relief from pain and muscle tension.

• Tuina (Tui Na) – is an Oriental bodywork therapy, used in China for 2,000 years. By the application of massage and manipulation, tuina seeks to establish a more harmonious flow of qi through the body’s network of channels and collaterals, allowing the body to naturally heal itself.

** Effective treatment protocols have been tested in a practical setting. Tuina is not especially useful for those seeking a mild, sedating and relaxing massage since it tends to be more task-focused than other types of bodywork.

Is Acupuncture Treatment Painful?

Four acupuncture needles can easily be inserted into the hollow tube of a hypodermic needle. Because of the slenderness of the needle, most people compare the sensations to “a mosquito bite”. A phenomena referred to as de qi (da chee) occurs when the energy is contacted. This sensation is felt as mild to moderate heaviness or tingling.