Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures in the world. It is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine that originated in China over 4,000 years ago. The intent of acupuncture is to promote health and alleviate pain and suffering. The method by which this is accomplished, though it may seem strange and mysterious to many, has withstood the test of time and continues to be validated today.
Acupuncture uses fine, slender needles to stimulate areas along specific channels of the body. There are over 500 specific points, or “acupoints”, located on our body. Each acupuncture point elicits a different response to our nervous system, endocrine system, hormonal system, and vascular system. In this manner, it can re-program any malfunctioning organ or signalling system.
Several processes have been proposed to explain the effects of acupuncture, with a primary focus on pain. Acupuncture points are known to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either change the experience of pain or release other chemicals and hormones, which influence the body’s self-regulating systems. The biochemical changes stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being. There are three main mechanisms:
Conduction of electromagnetic signals: scientists have found evidence that acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating points along these pathways through acupuncture enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at a greater rate than under normal conditions. These signals may start the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, and of immune system cells to specific sites in the body that are injured or vulnerable to disease.
Activation of opioid systems: Research has found that several types of opioids may be released into the central nervous system during acupuncture treatment, thereby reducing pain.
Changes in brain chemistry, sensation, and involuntary body functions: Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Acupuncture also has been documented to affect the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes whereby a person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature are regulated.
Increasingly, acupuncture is complementing conventional therapies. For example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control surgery-related pain in their patients. By providing both acupuncture and certain conventional anesthetic drugs, some doctors have found it possible to achieve a state of complete pain relief for some patients. They also have found that using acupuncture lowers the
need for conventional pain-killing drugs and thus reduces the risk of side effects for patients who take the drugs
What does it treat?
Please refer to our What We Treat sections for detailed information and research on various conditions.
Acupuncture has a good effect even on animals, small children/babies, and non-believers. There have been numerous third-party studies validating the effectiveness of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Side effects of acupuncture are usually very minimal, especially when compared to the side effects of modern pharmaceuticals. Possible adverse reactions may include:
- Minor bruising
- Minor soreness in needling location
- Slight dizziness
Typically, the patient feels few side effects, but rather increased side benefits. Since acupuncture has the function of increasing the body’s circulation and stimulating the nervous system, most people report that they have increased energy, improved sleep, and a decrease in other symptoms, none of which were specifically being addressed during the treatment.
When patients try acupuncture for the first time, they are usually amazed by how much it DOES NOT hurt. Most patients will arrive expecting a similar feeling to that of a hypodermic needle, the needle doctors’ use for injections or withdrawing blood. However, acupuncture needles are much thinner, and non-hollow. Thus, they do not cut out a section of the skin and tissue, but rather smoothly divide the tissue, allowing for much less pain. However, as this is a medicine based on muscle and nerve stimulation, some sensations should be felt to yield maximum results.
Yes. The method of acupuncture practiced at Avenue Acupuncture does not require needling on the trunk, thus there is no risk of any organ damage. There is no risk of nerve damage as the needles are extremely thin and not rough enough to cut through a nerve like a knife would.
All needles used are pre-sterilized and disposed of after use.
Due to the specialized style of acupuncture practiced at the clinic, patients experiencing pain will observe almost immediate effects on their first visit. However, everyone holds the treatments at different rates, thus a patients “rate of response” must be determined after a few sessions. As a rule of thumb, for every year you have had a condition, it will take a month to relieve it.
Selection of acupuncture points is done on a case-by-case basis, thus making it necessary to do a thorough medical examination before treatment is performed.
Due to the unique nature of the acupuncture style employed at Avenue Acupuncture, all of the needling is performed below the elbows and knees, making it unnecessary to remove any clothing. This style of acupuncture employs the use of acupoints distal to the area being treated. For patients experiencing pain, the needles are never inserted where the pain is felt, but rather on associated channels of the pain. This method of acupuncture is very different to most clinics, but has shown much greater effects than typical local needling. For example, a patient with back pain would receive needles on specific points in the arms and hands only, and feel a great relief of pain almost instantly.
Each acupuncture treatment typically takes 30 minutes. After the needles are inserted, it is important to rest and relax while the body attunes to the improved state of blood flow.
Patients are usually suggested a treatment frequency of 1-3 sessions per week, depending on the condition being treated.
Most workplace Extended Health Benefits do cover the cost of acupuncture. Check with your insurance company to see what your policy offers and to what extent. Currently, OHIP does not cover acupuncture treatments.
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine
Most people are familiar with the more common herbs such as ginseng, licorice root, gingko biloba, and ginger. There are actually thousands of Chinese herbs documented for their medicinal properties and usage. Around 300 of these herbs are more commonly used in clinical practice today. Chinese herbs are carefully prescribed to each patient depending on their different constitutions, taking into account their signs and symptoms. The herbs are not usually taken individually, but rather prescribed in a formula using between 4 to 20 different herbs.
The herbs used at the clinic are all in granular form, so it is only a simple matter of diluting them in warm water to drink. While the taste is not always pleasant, the effects are time-proven.