What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional form of oriental medicine that has its roots in prehistoric times. In over 130 countries acupuncture is being practiced, privately, in hospitals and clinics. Traditional acupuncture consists of the painless insertion of very small needles into specific points on the body. These specific points are called acupoints.

The insertion of needles at defined acupoints have two effects. First, it stimulates nerves which transmit electrical impulses to the brain and to the diseased area. The electrical impulse caused by the needles stimulate the proper regulation of the particular tissues in question. This is like a resetting mechanism. The body is naturally doing this, but when the body is weakened or the influence of disease or injury is overwhelming, the person may need assistance in this regulating process.

Secondly, it has been shown that one of the effects of acupuncture is that there is a release of chemical substances from the brain centers and pituitary gland. These substances are known as endorphins, serotonin, and others. They are released into the blood stream and are the body's own mechanism for pain relief.

These are the two main effects of acupuncture, nerve stimulation and chemical substance release. These two effects may be broken down further, to specific areas that acupuncture is influential in regulating. The proper use of acupuncture will produce an analgesic or pain-relieving result, sedation, homeostatic (regulatory) action, immune enhancing effect, anti-inflammatory/anti-allergic effect and psychological action other then sedation.

Is Acupuncture safe?

In the hands of a comprehensively trained acupuncturist, your safety is assured. Acupuncture needles are sterile and are disposed after each use.

Is it painful?

Undergoing an acupuncture treatment bears no resemblance to the feeling of receiving an injection, since the main source of pain from injections is the larger diameter, hollow needle and the medication being forced into the tissue by pressure.

Acupuncture needles are very fine and flexible, about the diameter of a human hair. In most cases, insertion by a skilled practitioner is performed without discomfort. You may experience a sense of heaviness or electricity in the area of insertion. Most patients find the treatments very relaxing and many fall asleep during treatment.

What is a typical treatment session like with an Acupuncturist?

An acupuncture session is between a half hour to an hour (a first visit is often longer). After diagnosing the patient and discussing treatment, the practitioner then performs the acupuncture. At the end of the session, the Acupuncturist may prescribe herbal therapies for the patient to use at home.

Typically, the majority of the practitioner's time during a session is spent on the actual performance of acupuncture and related therapies such as moxibustion, and handwork to re-enforce the effects of the acupuncture treatment. In some cases, your practitioner may also recommend herbs, or dietary, exercise (such as yoga) or lifestyle changes. (see below)

What conditions does Acupuncture treat?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture and traditional Oriental medicine's ability to treat more than 43 common disorders including:

• Gastrointestinal disorders, such as food allergies, peptic ulcer, chronic diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, gastrointestinal weakness, anorexia and gastritis
• Urogenital disorders, including stress incontinence, urinary tract infections, and sexual dysfunction
• Gynecological disorders, such as irregular, heavy, or painful menstruation, infertility in women and men, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Respiratory disorders, such as emphysema, sinusitis, asthma, allergies and bronchitis
• Disorders of the bones, muscles, joints and nervous system, such as arthritis, migraine headaches, neuralgia, insomnia, dizziness and low back, neck and shoulder pain
• Circulatory disorders, such as hypertension, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis and anemia
• Emotional and psychological disorders, including depression and anxiety
• Addictions, such as alcohol, nicotine and drugs
• Eye, ear, nose and throat disorders
• Supportive therapy for other chronic and painful debilitating disorders.

What other therapies can I expect when I see a Practitioner or Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Here is a breakdown:

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Oriental Medicine also incorporates a traditional system of herbal medicine that focuses on the specific individual needs of the person. Chinese herbal formulas are effective and safe. They come in many forms including teas decocted from raw herbs, prepared pills and tablets, powders or granules, and liquid tinctures. There is a rich tradition of empirical evidence as well as modern scientific research to support the appropriate use of Chinese herbs.


Moxibustion is a traditional method of applying heat over acupuncture points to relieve tension and invigorate cold areas of the body. Artemisia argyi (ai ye), a species of mugwort, is usually rolled and held over the acupuncture point until warmth is felt.

Electrical Stimulation

Low level electrical current may be connected to the needles and adjusted until a sensation is felt. The frequency and strength of the electric pulse can be varied to achieve the desired effect for each patient. Electro-acupuncture stimulator units enhance point stimulation for treatment of pain.

Tui Na/Acupressure

This style of therapeutic massage incorporates grasping, pressing and precise rubbing methods used to stimulate acupuncture points, manipulate the soft tissues and enhance the flow of energy throughout the body. The versatility of tui na allows for effective treatment of musculoskeletal and internal disorders.

Gua Sha

Gua Sha is an ancient deep massage technique commonly used on the back to release acute and chronic pain and tension from the muscles. It is often applied with medicinal oils which further enhance the circulation of blood.

Diet Therapy

The Chinese have long recognized that proper nutrition is essential in maintaining good health and vitality. Chinese medicine allows for a careful analysis of diet with recommendations explained on an individual basis.


Meditation, focused movement and breathing techniques are empowering tools employed by Qigong to heighten the awareness of the connection between the body and mind. A practitioner may recommend a few simple repetitive "exercises" to begin encouraging movement without pain.


To increase the flow and circulation of Qi and blood, glass globes are applied to the skin over acupuncture points.  Slightly heated, these cups create a vacuum suction to draw the stagnated Qi and blood to the surface of the skin to help restore their smooth flow.

What does it mean when the Acupuncturist has trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine College verses an Acupuncturist who has been trained in another modality such as Chiropractic, massage or physiotherapy?

Is is always wise to ask about the training of your acupuncturist.

Persons who have graduated from a College of Traditonal Chinese Medicine (TCM) have 3 or more years of training in Chinese Medicine.  Acupuncture is a main part of that training but it is Wholistic  - looking at the person as a whole - mind body and spirit.  The training also includes herbology, moxibustion, cupping, acupressure, etc...  They will typically look at your tongue, take pulses, and ask you A LOT of questions about all aspects of your life.  (TCM) is a set of healing modalities whose fundamental premise is that all things in nature are interrelated, interconnected and possessed of a vital energy called Qi (pronounced "Chi"). In the body there are many kinds of Qi; heat, cold, blood, fluids, bone etc. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, good health is manifest when all the types of Qi are flowing smoothly and freely. When this happens, organs, tissues, joints are nourished, we can resist external causes of disease, and our system thrives.  Conversely, when the normal movement of Qi is interrupted or blocked, then what is called a “pattern of disharmony” is expressed and ill health results.
It is the fundamental goal in Traditional Chinese Medicine to restore circulation and thus enable the body to produce and maintain an abundant supply of this fundamental energy called Qi.  This is achieved using acupuncture, herbs, lifestyle changes, exercises, and diet therapy.

Persons who come from Chiropractic, Massage, or other modalities, have taken courses on acupuncture and use it as an adjunct to their treatments.  The training varies from weeks to months of training in Acupuncture and use it more in the realm of pain reduction. 

To belong to the Saskatchewan Acupuncture Association, all Acupuncturists must write and pass a qualifying examination.



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