What is Acupuncture
Acupuncture is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has a history of more than 3000 years of successfully diagnosing, treating and preventing illness.
Your body is interconnected by meridians and pathways through which vital energy flows. The Acupuncturist inserts very fine, pre-sterilized, disposable (one time use) surgical grade stainless steel needles into specific points along these meridians. This allows your energy flow to be manipulated, aiding in both physical and mental ailments. Modern research has shown that stimulating acupuncture points decreases inflammation, increases endorphins to relieve pain, regulates blood circulation and hormone secretion, and boosts the immune system.
What does acupuncture treat?
It is strange how tiny needles can affect the body so much. The body’s normal response to foreign objects within the skin can create many different reactions which lead to healing a plethora of chronic and acute conditions. The most common health conditions include (as per the World Health Organization).
- Stomach Ulcers, Ulcerative Colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Chronic Pain
- Back/Body Pain
- Tennis Elbow
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Colds & Flu
- Menopausal Problems
- Mental & Emotional Stress
- Neck Pain
- High Cholesterol
- Internal Organ Dysfunctions
- Nerve impingements
- Effects of Stroke
- Environmental Illnesses
- Ear & Throat Infections
- PMS, Menstrual Disorders
- Uterine Fibroids
- Morning Sickness
- Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation
- Skin Problems
- Addictions (smoking, alcohol)
Acupuncture and fertility
Recent studies have shown acupuncture treatments increase the success rate of fertility.
How does acupuncture help fertility?
On its own, acupuncture can be seen as an alternative way of treating fertility problems. It is also often seen as a complementary therapy to modern fertility treatments. Acupuncture is the act of placing hair thin needles within the skin and muscle tissue; physically it stimulates a natural inflammation and draws circulation to the local area. Acupuncture can therefore help promote blood flow to the reproductive organs, a very common practice in China and has been proven to increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries to help with lining and egg quality or yield. It will also increase blood flow to the testes and help with increasing sperm and quality. This is very important, as circulation to the reproductive organs is very indirect. During times of stress, the body’s natural reaction is to direct circulation away from the reproductive organs, to the muscle groups, lungs and heart. Unfortunately, fertility is not solely a physical issue – it also affects the patient mentally and hormonally.
The stress levels caused by sadness and the anxiety of fertility issues are ranked as high of those in cancer patients undergoing treatments according to several clinical studies. During times of stress, hormone levels like cortisol are raised and can cause imbalances within the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis – the same reason that stress can affect the length and irregularities of periods. Inserting acupuncture needles in specific points can stimulate the body to release endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones that lower cortisol and balance the HPO axis to help regulate periods and other reproductive hormones such as progesterone and estrogen.
How does acupuncture help with IVF and IUI?
Similar to IVF and IUI cycles, there are stimulating and supporting components. The acupoints and herbs chosen will support menstrual cycles and the IVF/IUI. During menses, treatments will be focused on expunging the old lining so that a new foundation can be laid along the uterine wall. The stimulating stage of IVF / IUI / follicular phase will be focused on egg quality and helping the ovaries with yield and quality. The triggering / ovulation stage will be focused on keeping the fallopian tubes open so the egg can travel down and the sperm can travel upwards for an IUI. Lastly the luteal phase / IVF transfer or IUI implantation is focused on maintaining lining and the pregnancy.
A German study done in 2002 with 160 women showed that of the 80 women who underwent the IVF without any acupuncture treatments, 21 women (26.3%) became pregnant. Conversely, 34 of the 80 women who received acupuncture as well as the IVF became pregnant – a success rate of 42.5%. Recently, an American study involving 114 women had 36% of the women who had IVF alone became pregnant, while 51% of the women who had acupuncture and IVF treatments became pregnant. Furthermore, while 8% of the women in the acupuncture group miscarried, the rate of miscarriage in the IVF-only group was 20%.
Though we usually work with couples three months in advance to their procedure, we do pre and post IVF/IUI treatments on request.
Can it help with miscarriage?
Preconception and miscarriage prevention involves optimizing the health of both parents at least 3 months before conception. This is the approximate length of time it takes for an egg/sperm to mature from germ cells. Increasing the health of the parents and their quality of gametes is essential to lower the chances of abnormalities, it also gives time to create the best possible uterine lining. Though acupuncture and herbal medicine can help to bring your body into balance and help with the quality of egg or sperm, lifestyle choices must also be looked at. Diet, exercise and mental state are all key players in helping achieve a healthy pregnancy.
What about male factor?
It is estimated that up 40% of infertility cases are due to male factor. Though the male reproductive system is doesn’t undergo cyclical change like women, the concepts for treatment are still the same. Help with circulation towards the reproductive organs, lower stress, balanced diet and normalize hormone levels.
Acupuncture and Pregnancy
Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used for thousands of years to maximize both mother and baby’s well-being during and after pregnancy. Focus is placed on preventative care to strengthen the child and mother together as well as helping out with any difficulties that may arise during pregnancy.
As of 2003, the World Health Organization has published many reviews on a number of diseases that has proven acupuncture to be an effective form of treatment to help difficulties during pregnancy. It may be used in a large variety of ways to help with maternal and fetal health. Below are a list of the most commonly seen problems during pregnancy and patients being carried through to term.
Nausea During Pregnancy
Many studies have proven that acupuncture can often help mitigate the severity and incidence of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Trained acupuncturists and midwives who specialize in fertility and diagnose treatment based on the patient’s individual diagnosis, can provide faster relief than those experiencing no treatment or “sham” acupuncture (1).
Muscular – Skeletal Pain
One of the most common things acupuncturists will see during their patient’s pregnancies, will be pain. As the body acclimates and grows with the size of the baby; ribs, pubic symphysis, hips, sciatica and back pain are very common. As patient’s body grows and stretches, acupuncture can help relieve areas of congestion, desensitize the body to pain, and bring more circulation to areas of muscular tension from carrying extra weight (2).
Breech and Posterior Babies
With more and more women opting for a more natural birth, acupuncture and moxibustion to correct breech presentation has been a hugely studied subject. Though it has been proven to be most effective from weeks 34-35, it can still be useful later on in pregnancy (3).
Labour Preparation and Induction
Four weeks prior to due date, acupuncture can be used to help prepare and loosen the hips, back, pelvis and cervix. One treatment per week afterwards, is most useful to help women prepare for the amount of change their body will go through as their baby drops lower and lower in the uterus.
Acupuncture can also provide gentle induction to women who are overdue and can be an effective alternative to being stimulated hormonally. There are acupoints located on the body which have been shown to increase uterine contraction and help expedite labour. As a result, there is a reduction in frequency of medical intervention, induction and caesarean sections with acupuncture (4,5).
Acupuncture and chinese herbs are used to help bring the mother back to full health after the taxing experience of child birth. The body is at its weakest and treatment will be concentrated on strengthening and blood building herbs. Other common complaints acupuncturists can treat are: mastitis, helping with milk production, post partum depression, incontinence, back pain and fatigue.
(1) Birth. 2002 Mar;29(1):1-9.
Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial.
Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J.
Source: Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Adelaide University, Adelaide, Australia.
(2) Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2006;85(1):12-9.
Decrease of pregnant women’s pelvic pain after acupuncture: a randomized controlled single-blind study. Lund I, Lundeberg T, Lönnberg L, Svensson E.
Source: Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden. Irene.Lund@fyfa.ki.se
(3)J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2004 Apr;15(4):247-52.
Acupuncture plus moxibustion to resolve breech presentation: a randomized controlled study.
Neri I, Airola G, Contu G, Allais G, Facchinetti F, Benedetto C.
Source: Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Modena-Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.
(4) Influence of Acupuncture on Duration of LaborZeisler H. · Tempfer C. · Mayerhofer K. · Barrada M. · Husslein P.
Gynecol Obstet Invest 1998;46:22–25
(5) Medical Acupuncture: A Journal for Physicians by Physicians. 2006; 17(3):
Acupuncture for Prebirth Treatment: An Observational Study Of Its Use In Midwifery Practice.
Debra Betts, RN – Sue Lennox, MA
What to expect on your first treatment?
In order to understand your health history, you will complete an in depth personal health form. All information that you provide is strictly confidential and will only be released with your written consent. Your practitioner will then perform an assessment to understand your concerns and work with you towards your health goals. Questions regarding your history of disease and accompanying symptoms, and an examination of your pulse and tongue will provide an overall picture of your condition and concludes the initial assessment.
The needles used on patients will be single use, sterilized needles. These needles (no thicker than a strand of hair) will cause a slight feeling of pressure/heaviness, dull ache or distension surrounding the local area where they are inserted. On occasion, some people will feel more circulation in the local area or a trickling sensation. Under no circumstances should the patient experience any pain or discomfort – we are an interactive clinic and respond to the feedback of our patients. If you are in any discomfort, let us know and we will adjust or retract the needles as necessary – increasing stress during your treatment can be said to hinder your body’s healing mechanisms.
Depending on your ailments, points may be selected along the arms, legs, abdomen or back. Your appointment following the assessment will be between 30-40 minutes, to slowly ease your body into your first acupuncture treatment. Follow ups are usually closer to an hour. We will check on you frequently during your treatment to make sure you are comfortable. **Please be sure to communicate any problems or concerns you may have.**
Be sure to have something to eat before your treatment as acupuncture can naturally lower sugar levels within the body. On occasion if your blood sugar is low (and you have not had anything to eat prior to your treatment) your energy will also be low following the treatment; as any energy you did have will be directed towards healing the body during your treatment.
IS ACUPUNCTURE SAFE?
One of the striking advantages of acupuncture is that there are no side effects. In our Centre, only sterile needles are used for treatments. These needles come in sterile containers and are used only once, and then disposed of safely and appropriately.
There is no risk of infection. In particular, there is no possibility of transmission of AIDS or the Hepatitis virus.
IS ACUPUNCTURE PAINFUL?
Some people may be afraid of needles and assume that acupuncture is painful. Actually there is no pain at all. The needles used for acupuncture is solid and extremely thin, much thinner than those used for injections or when donating blood.
When the needles reach the acupuncture points, there is a sensation that could be described as tingling or numbing, rather than ‘painful’. Sometimes you may feel a little soreness, heaviness, distension, or pressure during the course of needle insertion. These sensations may also be transferred along the acupuncture channels to another part of the body. None of these typical feelings could be described as painful.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?
Each patient is unique. The number and frequency of treatments will vary from patient to patient. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while others may take four to ten treatments. While a specific problem is being worked on, you may visit your acupuncturist once or twice a week, and gradually reduce the frequency to once or twice a month. To simply maintain good health, you may limit your treatments to once every season – four times a year.
If you have any questions please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 403.454.0465
WHAT IS CUPPING
WHAT IS CUPPING AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Cupping (sometimes referred to as ‘vacuum massage’) is an ancient Chinese method of causing local congestion. A partial vacuum is created in cups (either glass or plastic) when placed on the skin, either by means of heat or suction. This practice draws up the underlying tissues, and when left in place on the skin for a few minutes, blood stasis is formed and localized healing takes place.
Cupping therapy has been further developed as a means to open the ‘Meridians’ of the body. Meridians are the channels through which energy flows to every part of the body; every organ and tissue. There are five meridians on the back that, when opened, allow revitalizing energy to travel the whole length of the body. Cupping is probably the best way of opening these meridians.
Cupping has also been found to have an effect on the body up to four inches into the tissues; causing tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages; help activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries; activate the skin; clear stretch marks and improve varicose veins.
Is Cupping Safe?
Cupping, the technique, is very useful and very safe. It can however, cause some swelling and bruising on the skin. As the skin under a cup is drawn up, the blood vessels at the surface of the skin expand. This may result in small, circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied. These bruises are usually painless, and disappear within a few days of treatment.
Cupping should not be used on you if you have: areas of skin which are inflamed; a high fever; convulsions or cramping; easy bleeding; or if you are pregnant.