1. What is acupuncture?
2. What causes imbalance?
3. How many treatments will I need?
4. Does acupuncture hurt?
5. Do you use disposable needles at BodaHealth?
6. Is acupuncture covered by MSP or extended medical?
7. What can acupuncture treat?
8. Can I combine acupuncture and TCM with Western medicine?
9. Why are Chinese herbal medicines used?
10. What does it take to become a TCM practitioner?
11. What is cupping?
12. What is moxibustion?
Acupuncture originated in China over 2000 years ago. It is based on the belief that health is determined by a balanced flow of qi (pronounced “chee”) the vital life energy present in all living organisms. Acupuncture is the gentle insertion of sterile, disposable, hair-fine needles into specific points, called acupuncture points, on the body to stimulate the flow of qi. These points provide us with ‘gateways’ to influence, redirect, increase, or decrease qi correcting many imbalances. Qi circulates through the body along twelve major energy pathways, called meridians. Each meridian is linked to specific internal organs and organ system. There are hundreds of acupoints within the meridian system that can be stimulated to enhance the flow of qi. When you are healthy, the qi flows smoothly.
Studies have shown that Acupuncture stimulates the brain to release chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins help relieve the body from different kinds of pain, one of the primary uses of Acupuncture is for the relief of chronic and acute pain. Acupuncture has been used extensively for a variety of medical purposes ranging from the prevention and treatment of disease, to relieving pain and anesthetizing patients for surgery.
The needles used are solid, not hollow like needles used for drawing blood. The end of an acupuncture needle is smooth and rounded. Acupuncture needles are not designed to cut the skin. Instead, when an acupuncture needle is inserted, the round edge pushes the tissue aside without cutting it.
A positive attitude helps with any type of therapy but it is not necessary to believe in acupuncture for it to work. Acupuncture is used successfully on animals and children. They do not understand or believe in the process yet they get better anyway.
At BodaHealth Vancouver we have 6 registered acupuncturists each educated in unique areas such as: women’s health, fertility, pregnancy, MS, autoimmune disease, pain and injury. Please visit our practitioner bios here to learn more about our areas of focus.
When Qi flows freely through the meridians, your body is balanced and healthy, if your energy becomes blocked or weak, it can result in physical, mental or emotional illness. Imbalance can result from:
- Emotions such as excess anger, over-excitement, grief and fear
- Environment such as cold, damp/humidity, wind, dryness, and heat
- Poor diet, overwork and overexertion.
The answer depends on the nature and duration of your problem. To give acupuncture enough time to do its work, approximately 4 – 6 visits are required. Generally speaking, the more recent the ailment, the shorter the treatment time and the fewer treatments needed. Problems that have arisen recently may see improvement within the first few treatments, while long-standing disorders may take longer for your body to balance. As with any form of medical care, the client’s attitude, diet, determination and lifestyle will affect the outcome and course of treatment.
Patients should start to feel the benefits from acupuncture within 2-3 treatments. If the problem is acute, sometimes improvement is felt after 1 treatment, and may only need 3-5 treatments to resolve. If the problem is chronic and long term, it may take a many treatments to resolve.
Typically we start by treating patients 1 – 2 times a week. If the condition is acute and painful, treatments may be as frequent as 2-3 times per week for the first 2 – 3 weeks. The benefits of acupuncture treatments tend to hold longer as you receive treatments, so what typically happens is that patients need fewer treatments over time and eventually only come periodically for maintenance.
People experience needling differently and there are different styles of needling. Unlike injection and blood drawing needles, acupuncture needles do not have a hollow space inside for fluid. Therefore, they are very fine in comparison. The needles are very thin, and are designed to be easily inserted and create minimal discomfort. The client should feel a slight sensation as the needle contacts the Qi. This feeling is known as ‘deqi’, or arrival of Qi. The sensation of deqi can either be distention, heaviness, heat, dull ache, numbness, or tingling. A client may feel a needle slightly more if the area is very blocked. In some instances the sensation travels along the line of the meridian. The energetic sensation differs from pain. People often comment that the feeling is unfamiliar but relaxing soon after insertion. Most people find Acupuncture to be calming and relaxing or even fall asleep once all the needles are placed.
No need to worry if you are afraid of needles. At BodaHealth there are always alternatives for acupuncture needles, such as heat therapy, cupping, Tui Na and acupressure.
One of the greatest advantages of acupuncture is the absence of serious side effects.
Every needle used in our clinic is a sterile, single-use needle. Each needle is used only one time and then immediately placed in a biohazard container. We do not reuse needles.
Extended health benefits vary from plan to plan many of today’s plans offer some form of coverage. Contact your benefits coordinator to find out if your plan covers acupuncture. If you are self-employed discuss with your financial planner about setting up a health and welfare trust to write off both the cost of acupuncture and herbs prescribed by your practitioner.
If you qualify MSP pays for a combined annual limit of 10 visits for acupuncture, massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic and naturopathy. Contact MSP at (604) 733-2632 to find out if you qualify.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are used to treat many conditions. Among those are: chronic and acute pain, women’s health issues such as fertility, pregnancy, menopause, stress and anxiety, digestive complaints, endocrine disorders and others. Please see our Conditions Treated page for a more comprehensive look at what we do at BodaHealth.
The World Health Organization lists over 40 different disorders that acupuncture is effective in treating. These conditions include:
Digestive: Abdominal pain, Constipation, Diarrhea, Acid reflux, Indigestion
Eye-Ear-Throat: Cataracts, Gingivitis, Poor vision, Tinnitis, Toothache
Musculoskeletal: Arthritis, Back pain, Muscle cramping, Muscle pain and weakness, Neck pain, Sciatica
Respiratory: Asthma, Bronchitis, Common cold, Sinusitis, Smoking cessation, Tonsillitis
Emotional: Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Nervousness, Neurosis
Gynecological: Pregnancy and postpartum issues, Infertility, Menopausal symptoms, Premenstrual and menstrual symptoms
Neurological: Headaches, Migraines, Neurogenic bladder dysfunction, Parkinson’s disease, Postoperative pain, Stroke
Miscellaneous: Addiction control, Athletic performance, Blood pressure regulation
Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine treat both the symptoms and the root of an illness. Chinese Traditional Medicine focuses on the whole person and on maintaining the optimum balance of energy that creates health.
Many clients undergo acupuncture and TCM alongside conventional medication. It is advisable, however, that herbal medicine and conventional medicine be taken at different times of the day. With TCM treatment, Western medication can often be reduced slowly as the client’s health improves, in consultation with both the client’s conventional doctor, acupuncturist and TCM practitioner. Be sure to discuss this with your prescribing medical doctor. Please inform both your medical doctor and practitioner of TCM about the herbs and drugs you are presently or will be taking. It is our goal at BodaHealth that our patients receive the best possible quality of care. This often involves working in consultation with your MD or other health practitioner to best serve your needs.
In East Asia, people have been using natural herbs to treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions for over 2000 years. These herbs are composed of roots, bark, flowers, seeds, fruits, leaves, branches and some animal products. Some conditions respond better to a combination of herbs and acupuncture. Combining both treatment modalities can provide a more efficient and effective healing response. It is also less costly because the number of and frequency of acupuncture treatments can be reduced.
Herbal medicines are generally gentler than drugs and more holistically targeted, so there are fewer side effects. In fact, herbs used within the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) context relieve symptoms above and beyond the chief complaint of the client. That is why we often modify the herbs as treatment continues, since the body starts to shift towards being healthier, and therefore the herbs are modified to meet the changing needs of the body. If you are taking western pharmaceutical you may not be able to take herbs, it depends on the medications you are taking. This would have to be evaluated on a case by case basis.
The medicinal herbal products at BodaHealth do not contain any endangered or illegal plant or animal substances. We use e-fong concentrated herb granules that can be taken in the form of tea or can be encapsulated for your convenience. The herbs are inspected for herb quality, herb identification, heavy metals, presence of bugs, and other contaminants by the supplier. E-fong sends products to an independent laboratory to be tested for pesticides, alfatoxins and certain heavy metals. BodaHealth only uses high quality Chinese Herbs from suppliers with the most stringent testing and quality control.
A Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac.) has a minimum of 1,900 hrs in 3 academic years, including 450 hrs of practicum and has passed the provincial licensing exam administered by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia (CTCMA).
A Registered Herbalist (R. TCM. H) has a minimum of 1,900 hrs in 3 academic years, including 450 hrs of practicum and has passed the provincial licensing exam administered by the CTCMA.
A Registered TCM Practitioner (R. TCM. P) has a minimum of 2,600 hrs in 4 academic years, including 650 hrs of practicum and has passed both the licensing exam for R. Ac. and R. TCM. H.
A Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Dr. TCM) has a minimum of 3,250 hrs in 5 academic years, with an additional 1,050 hrs of practicum, has passed the Dr. TCM competency exam in addition to being a Registered TCM Practitioner (R. Ac. and R. TCM. H).
Cupping hit the mainstream when Gwyneth Paltrow caused a stir at a New York film premiere. After that everyone started to ask about cupping.
Cupping is an ancient Chinese method of treatment that focuses on the movement of blood, energy (Qi) and body fluids, such as lymph, which circulates around the body’s tissues. It is often used in addition to acupuncture to relieve pain in the muscles, such as back pain or shoulder pain from stiffness or injury, and clearing congestion in the chest, which occurs with colds and flu. Cupping also helps tissues release toxins, clear colon blockages, help activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries, activate the skin, clear stretch marks and improve varicose veins.
Heat is used to create a vacuum inside the glass cups and they are placed on the skin. This draws up the underlying tissues. The cup is then left in place on the skin for a few minutes to invigorate the underlying tissue and meridians.
Cupping can leave deep purple, bruises on the skin. But it’s not damage to the tissue but rather they are ‘healthy bruises’ and they disappear within a week or so. Although cupping does leave noticeable marks, it is not painful during or after treatment.
Cupping has been practiced for thousands of years for the treatment of disease and pain. There have certainly been satisfied customers for over 2,500 years.
If you are thinking about trying cupping it is important to find an experienced practitioner. The acupuncturists at BodaHealth in Vancouver are trained in cupping therapy.
If you’ve ever walked into a Chinese Medical practice offering Acupuncture, you will very likely have smelled the earthy tones that moxibustion gives off when being used in treatment. Moxibustion is the burning of a herb to warm acupuncture points. It is most often used in conjunction with acupuncture though may also be used entirely on its own to achieve a therapeutic outcome. The herb used is mugwort (artemisia vulgaris) and the part used is the floss found under the leaves of the mugwort plant. For thousands of years it has been know as one of the most effective therapies in Oriental Medicine. In warming the acupuncture points and meridians, the body returns to health. The digestive, nervous, reproductive and musculoskeletal systems are all affected by the use of moxibustion as it boosts immunity and alleviates pain, allowing for improved function.
At BodaHealth, we offer various types of moxibustion applications according to the patterns we are treating and the desired outcome.
The two most common ways of administering moxibustion are direct scarring moxibustion and indirect moxibustion.
Direct Scarring Moxibustion:
Although rarely used in the western practice of Chinese Medicine, direct scarring moxibustion consists of placing a rice grain shaped roll of moxa floss directly on the patients skin and burning it down to the point of creating a small scar. These rice grain moxa rolls are extremely small.
Most commonly used in the western practice is this type of moxa therapy administered through a tightly bound collection of the moxa floss into a cigar shape and burned over the acupuncture points or a cone placed on the skin with a barrier between the skin and the cone. Barriers include, barrier cream, a slice of ginger or garlic or a mound of salt. This achieves deep penetrating heat without burning or scarring. It is a pleasant treatment, inducing a deep state of relaxation.
Moxibustion is taught in most Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine degree programs in the West and is most commonly used in tandem with an acupuncture treatment. At BodaHealth, we have practitioners who have gone on to study moxibustion extensively as it is used in Japan, where a separate license must be held in order to practice it. In the West, one must hold an Acupuncture license in order to practice moxibustion therapy.