Do your due diligence before embarking on your journey towards natural healing.
1) What is Acupuncture?
- Acupuncture is a natural healing modality for effectively treating many different ailments with minimal to no side effects.
Unlike allopathic medicine, which isolates the disease, Traditional Chinese Medicine views a person as an energy system in which the body and mind are interconnected.
This emphasizes a holistic approach and the body is viewed as one continuous unit.
When you heal the mind, the body follows suite and when you heal the body, the mind resides peacefully.
In the last 20 years, acupuncture has been in growing demand throughout North America. This growth in popularity has made this form of eastern medicine more readily available as more and more practitioners graduate from the various colleges.
Designations can range from Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor or T.C.M.D., Oriental Medical Doctor or O.M.D, to Registered Acupuncturist or R.Ac.
Acupuncturists are regulated in five provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, and Newfoundland), so depending on your province of residance, you should research and find out what are the necessary qualifications for a practitioner to be considered “qualified” (ensure your safety and effectiveness of treatment).
2) What are the benefits of Acupuncture?
- Acupuncturists can effectively help treat a plethora of health related issues.
This includes migraines, headaches, anxiety, depression, digestive and respiratory problems, nervousness, addictions, insomnia, muscular disorders, injuries, arthritis all the way to the pesky common cold.
What you would normally see your family physician for, a T.C.M.D or O.M.D. can heal using natural remedies (Chinese herbs) and be just as effective if not more!
Below is a list of things you should keep in mind and questions you should ask an acupuncturist during the initial consultation or prior to booking your first appointment:
3) How much Education?
- Ask your practitioner if she or he is registered with a college or association in your province (ask for their license number)?
You shouldn’t stop there and you should also find out how long they studied for prior to getting certified.
Some courses can be as short as 3 days but expert practitioners will study for 3 to 5 years. I would be cautious of anyone practising acupuncture with less than 2 years of education.
Note: if you have health insurance coverage and plan on using it, you’ll need the practitioner’s license number in order to claim it, so do ask for that information ahead of time or prior to the treatment.
- How long have they been practising for and how long has the clinic been opened for?
Although the length of time practising isn’t typically critical, the amount of time the clinic is in operation is of interest. A clinic in operation for only a short while could mean the difference between someone who’s had to reopen under a different operating name and someone who simply relocated or expanded their clinic.
- Ask the practitioner to walk you through a Typical treatment.
Clear communication is vital as failure to do so could lead to the wrong herbs and the wrong treatment being prescribed.
What should you expect during the treatment and inquire if any additional services will be incorporated? (Some added on treatments could include cupping, electro stimulator, grasping, acupressure, auricular acupuncture or seed, and tui na aka Chinese massage, acupressure, hot stones, heating lamp etc…).
A good acupuncturist should always look for ways to make the treatment more efficient and effective! A doctor whom strives to heal you as quickly as possible, is a doctor you want to keep around (this distinguishes the rest from the best).
4) Do the brands of acupuncture needles matter?
- Yes the brand of needles used by the practitioner will make a difference to your comfort level (lower grade needles of which there are too many to list, cost on average about a penny a needle)?
With lower end needles, you will definitely feel the difference when they are inserted. So ensure a positive experience by checking the quality of the doctor’s needles.
If the practitioner is using anything other than the ones mentioned above, I suggest you interview a few more Chinese Medicine Doctors before deciding.
5) What should I bring?
- Bring in a list of your supplements and medications.
If the practitioner is not familiar with them, especially if you are on blood thinners, do inform the practitioner ahead of time. Some conditions and medications are contra indicated to treat with acupuncture.
This is a good example where good if not great communication with your acupuncturist is extremely important!
If you still have doubts, Google for reviews on the practitioner or ask for references. (Acupuncture is a medical treatment, not all acupuncturists are created equal. Do not dismiss this step and take your wellbeing seriously).
6) What does the acupuncture clinic look like?
- When you arrive at the clinic get a feel for things while waiting for your turn (bring a friend to tag along).
Feel free to ask questions to other patients as you wait.
- Once in the treatment room quickly scan and observe whether everything appears clean and hygienic.
If you are uncomfortable, it is well within your right to refuse treatment.
Hold your safety and health to a high standard (this is not the place to cut corners). Acupuncture may be a proven 5,000 years old practice, but the execution of this medical treatment should be up to 21st Century standards.
7) What If I am not getting any results?
Unfortunately just as with acupuncture needles, not all practitioners are created equal. Acupuncture works that we know… Acupuncture is effective… When done properly, yes absolutely!
- If you are not getting results from your Chinese acupuncture treatments it is time to look elsewhere.
Just like physicians, some are more skilful, diligent and thorough than others.
8) What happens physiologically when you get acupuncture?
- Any time the skin barrier is broken, your immune system sends messengers (scouts) to the afflicted area to investigate.
The insertion or stimulation of the needles into the body is the initial signal and a key component to your body healing naturally (click for an in depth explanation). The technique can vary from Chinese to Japanese to Korean.
9) What about acupuncture needles?
- Regardless of the technique, they all involve the use of hair like thin, surgical grade stainless steel, and one time use disposable needles.
These are then gently tapped into specific points along the meridian or channel and the combination of activated points trigger the body into self-healing.
On average, five to ten needles are used depending on the severity and complexity of the condition.
10) Will I feel any pain?
- In the majority of cases, individuals feel some minor discomfort but no pain (this is very much dependent on the doctor).
If you feel pain similar to IMS, I suggest you look for another practitioner for all of your acupuncture benefits.
Most patients express feeling energized while others feel very relaxed. Once needles are inserted, movement can cause soreness and pain during the therapeutic session, so it is important for you to focus on relaxing your muscles and mind and let the needles facilitate the healing process. Keep movements to a minimum during your treatment.
Let the activation of energy from the needle enduce the bodies self-healing mechanism!
Your acupuncture treatment doesn’t have to be an unpleasant, unpredictable and unsatisfying experience.
In fact, indulging in alternative medicine in a spa like environment can be exhilarating and will have a compounding effect on your healing results.
Of course, at the core, your foremost priority is to receive all of the benefits of acupuncture, using a qualified practitioner with a track record, in a clean and sanitized environment.
Note: The US Food and drug Administration (FDA) upgraded the classification of acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners since 1996. The needles are to be sterilized, non-toxic, disposable and should be labelled even it is to be used for a single process of treatment by a qualified practitioner.
I hope you enjoyed this article, please make sure to leave me a comment below and let me know if this was helpful?