Acupuncture is a minimally invasive complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) originating from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), whereby fine needles are inserted at specific acupuncture points of the body.
TCM treats the human body, mind and spirit as a whole in relation to the physical laws that shape nature. It is believed that disease is the result of imbalances between the complementary, interconnected, and interdependent forces of yin (female energy) and yang (male energy), which also include the energy matrix of earth, wood, fire, water, and metal. These forces balance energy flow and health through 12 main and 8 secondary meridians, or channels. When meridians are blocked, the vital energy flow, or qi, is disrupted, creating hyperactivity or underactivity of the organs, leading to disease. The insertion of acupuncture needles into specific areas of the body is believed to open the meridians, allowing energy to flow naturally, re-establishing balance and health.
While researchers continue to investigate the mechanisms involved with acupuncture, a substantial amount of research has demonstrated acupuncture therapy to be effective in treating:
- Chronic and acute pain
- Cancer-related symptoms, including chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, fatigue, pain, anxiety, physical distress, emotional distress, and poor quality of life
- Chronic stress
- Sleep disturbances
- Cognitive function after stroke
- Cravings and anxiety among patients with substance use disorder
- Hair and nail growth
Patients also report:
- Improved physical activity
- Reduced reliance on medication
- Enhanced well-being and quality of life
Below you will find some of our frequently asked questions about acupuncture. If your question is not answered, please feel free to contact us!
Research carried out in Germany has shown that acupuncture may help relieve tension headaches and migraines.
The NCCIH note that it has been proven to help in cases of:
- low back pain
- neck pain
- knee pain
- headache and migraine
In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed a number of conditions in which they say acupuncture has been proven effective.
- high and low blood pressure
- chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- some gastric conditions, including peptic ulcer
- painful periods
- allergic rhinitis
- facial pain
- morning sickness
- rheumatoid arthritis
- tennis elbow
- dental pain
- reducing the risk of stroke
- inducing labour
Acupuncture is considered a safe form of CAM with the incidence of infection at 0.002%. However, individuals with pacemakers should not use electro acupuncture, and some physicians recommend that individuals with bleeding disorders, immune disorders, skin disorders, metal allergies, and patients with valvular heart disease should not use acupuncture. Patients with these disorders should consult a physician.
There are up to 2000 acupuncture points on the human body.
Most patients report minimal to no pain as the needles are inserted, while some patients report sensations of excitement or relaxation.
Acupuncturists are regulated in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, and must successfully complete the Pan-Canadian Written and Clinical Case-Study Examinations issued by the Canadian Alliance of Regulatory Bodies of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners before becoming a Registered Acupuncturist.
The exact mechanisms by which acupuncture works remains unclear. However, several theories have been presented to explain its effectiveness. The Two-Gate Control Theory of Pain suggests that acupuncture needles stimulate A-beta nerve fibers, which carry information from the skin to the brain. This stimulation triggers interneurons in the spinal cord to close a gate, preventing the sensation of pain to reach the brain. Other theories propose that acupuncture needles stimulate the central nervous system to release endorphins or opioids, forms of natural pain killers in the body. Additionally, some theories suggest that the effectiveness of acupuncture is due to increased blood flow and/or decrease in myofascial stiffness.