What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the most commonly practiced forms of Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin sterile needles into certain points on the body or ear in order to influence the body’s Qi (life force energy). The aim is to urge the body to self-regulate and heal itself. Although the way in which acupuncture works may seem mysterious, it is a time-tested therapy that continues to be validated toda
What is Qi?
The most basic and all pervasive concept of Chinese Medicine is that of Qi. There are many interpretations of this term, but in its most basic sense, it is energy in all its permeations—from ethereal to dense. It is the energy that moves within our bodies: it is what is alive in us. Qi is also around us in nature, movement, heat, thunder, and so on. It is often referred to as “life force energy,” or “vital energy.”
In health, our Qi is harmonious on all levels. In sickness the Qi is adversely affected by being blocked, insufficient, misguided, and so on. When the Qi mechanism within the body is out of balance, other mechanisms of the body are also in turn affected. For example, we can use the analogy of a river, which can’t flow smoothly along its course due to braches or rocks or insufficient water. This metaphor applies also applied to Qi. If the course is blocked, it can lead to buildup, obstruction and stagnation. This can lead to a festering of unhealthy fluids and other pathogenic states. Similarly,
if qi is depleted, the flow is also affected and body organs don’t get the nourishment they need to be vibrant and healthy.
How Does Acupuncture Treat Disease?
The Chinese Medical model uses several types of diagnosis to assess the flow and functioning of Qi within the body and determine the nature of the imbalance. This is a lot like a Western doctor monitoring the flow of blood through the vessels or messages traveling along the nerves. Once a Chinese medical pattern of imbalance is identified, it is treated, by inserting needles into specific “acupoints” along the affected meridians.
Meridians are distinct channels that traverse the surface and interior of the human body, carrying Qi, or life force energy. Acupuncture channels often follow the pathways of nerves and blood vessels, and along these pathways there are over 1000 distinct points where the Qi can be influenced. Acupuncture modulates the flow of Qi by guiding Qi where it is needed and dispersing it from where it is obstructed. There is a saying in Chinese medicine that states where there is no free flow of Qi, there is pain or disease. Acupuncture seeks to restore the free flow of qi.
How can Acupuncture help?
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine complement conventional medicine. They are not substitutes for any conventional medical advice, medications or treatments. As a complement to conventional medicine, acupuncture can treat both acute and chronic problems such as insomnia, digestive and elimination problems, headaches and migraines, sleeping disorders, chronic pain, stopping smoking, eating disorders, weight loss, and much more.
Acupuncture can help to reduce or eliminate the need for medications for many conditions including narcotics and other pain-relievers, but your family doctor must always be consulted in such instances.
Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at illnesses from a different perspective than conventional medicine. The basic tenet of Chinese Medicine is that we have a life force that energizes all the metabolic activity in our bodies, and this life forces (often referred to as “Qi”) is always moving and flowing. When Qi flows unimpeded, we are healthy. When Qi is blocked, we get pain and ultimately disease. The strategy of the practitioner of Oriental Medicine is to find the areas of blocked energy, and help remove those blocks. This helps the body return to its natural healthy state.
When you first enter an the office of an acupuncturist, the practitioner will sit with you and do an intake. We are interested in all your symptoms and medical history which helps, which helps us start to determine our treatment strategy. The Chinese medical model is often very effective at treating hard to diagnose problems since Chinese Medicine has its own system for understanding and treating illness and pain.
This difference in perspective means that Traditional Chinese Medicine can often make sense of illnesses that Western medicine has difficulty treating. In cases where Western medicine may be limited to prescribing medication for symptom management, acupuncture may be able to intervene and encourage the body in a self-healing process. Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine is currently the fastest growing healing modality in the country.
What to Expect
- Make sure to eat something light an hour or two before arriving
- Wear loose fitting clothes
- Bring a list of medications you are taking
Your first visit will begin with an in-depth assessment of your condition and an initial treatment. The intake and treatment will take an hour. Typical follow-up treatments last approximately 45-50 minutes.
During the assessment, you may be asked about things that you might not think are connected to your chief complaint, such as your emotions, sleeping patterns, and eating habits. Chinese Medicine considers the whole person, not just one isolated symptom. When put together, the myriad of symptoms and signs you are experiencing reveal patterns of disharmony. Although treatment will focus on your chief complaint, your whole being must be considered in order to develop the most appropriate course of treatment. Chinese Medicine is unique in that it always takes into consideration that while illnesses may seem to be identical, the persons suffering from them are individuals.
Needles are typically retained for about 30 minutes total. Soothing music will be played to help you relax during this time – many people even fall asleep during treatment! In addition to acupuncture, treatments may also include heat therapy, electro-acupuncture, herbal prescriptions, cupping, gua sha(an accessory technique), tuina (Chinese massage), and diet and lifestyle advice. See the modalities page for more information on these other treatment techniques.
What to Expect After Treatment
Your relief may be immediate, delayed for a few hours, or even develop after one to three days. The relief may last for a few hours on the first visit and then last longer with each successive treatment, or relief may last from the first treatment until your next visit. Individual response to treatment varies. The effect of Acupuncture is cumulative; each treatment builds on the one before.
Course of Treatment
As part of your first visit, we will discuss the appropriate course of treatment for your specific condition. In general, acute conditions of recent onset may only require two or three treatments. Chronic conditions usually require more treatments to achieve sustained results.
The ideal approach to illness is to begin treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you seek help, the easier it is to treat. For longstanding illnesses, weekly treatments may be required for several months in order to have a curative effect.
Once you initiate a healing process, it is important to follow through on treatments. The more consistent you are, the better the likelihood of results. As mentioned above, the effects of acupuncture tend to be cumulative.
What is Shamanic Journeying?
The practice of Shamanic Journeying is over forty thousand years old and is the first organized form of healing. Shamanism is defined by the journeying process. For many clients the experience of listening to a drum can help them activate their body and mind’s relaxation process and healing response more easily. One can practice Shamanic Journeying as a spiritual practice for every day living. It brings peace and calmness to one’s life.
How does a Shamanic Journeying session work?
During a Shamanic Journey the Shaman practitioner goes into an altered state of consciousness (meditative state) to journey outside of time and space called non-ordinary reality. While listening to the sound of the rattle the client relaxes and visualizes his/her healing. The Shaman practitioner travels with the help of visualization to retrieve information to help in the client’s healing. Tension is soothed away by listening to the rhythm of the rattle and a deeper spiritual healing occurs. Information from the journey is shared with the client at the end of the journey with the focus on what is needed at this time to help him/her start or continue their healing.
What are the benefits of Shamanic Journeying?
The benefits of Shamanic Journeying is are:
- to feel personally empowered in our lives
- to raise our self-esteem in a grounded way
- to access knowledge, healing and inspiration
- to have direct access to spiritual guidance
- to feel valued and loved
- to learn the true definition of power — transformation
- to get out of our heads and into our hearts
- to expand our awareness and consciousness
- to create transformation for ourselves, others and the planet
Shamanic Journeying is a joyful path to regaining the knowledge of how to bring our lives back into a place of harmony and balance. It helps us to wake up to our full creative potential for health and well-being.