National University of Health Sciences Student Taylor Hamlin shared with Healthy Lombard that Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that was created thousands of years ago and is still practiced today. It promotes the body’s own healing energy by restoring one’s inner balance. Acupuncture is used for a variety of conditions ranging from muscle pain, infertility, addiction, weight loss, and more.
How does it work?
During an acupuncture treatment, an acupuncturist will insert small, fine needles into acupuncture points on the body called acupoints. These points are uniquely selected for each patient according to their chief complaint or main health concern. The needles tonify qi, which according to TCM, is the vital energy of life. From a Western medical perspective, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the central nervous system. Thus, triggering the release of chemicals that activate healing.
Is it safe?
Acupuncture is a very safe and non-invasive form of medicine that has little to no side effects. Most patients feel nothing upon insertion of the needles, but it’s normal to feel a slight electrical sensation. This electrical sensation is said to be the presence of qi or de qi. Bruising in the location that a needle was inserted is normal and fairly common. Minor bleeding after removal of the needles is also normal. The bleeding usually subsides after a few seconds. Many people are wary of acupuncture needles in the beginning; however, this is due to the association of needles with shots. The needles used to give shots are much thicker than acupuncture needles, and during a shot, a substance is being injected into the body.
What should I expect?
When visiting an acupuncturist for the first time, the practitioner will explain the treatment and check your vital signs. Additionally, it’s common to have your tongue observed and your wrist pulse checked. These are part of the traditional Chinese physical exam. The tongue and pulse show what is going on inside the body. Patients will also be asked general questions regarding their health to assist in the diagnosis or cause of illness.
Where do I start?
When seeking out an acupuncturist or acupuncture clinic, make sure the practitioner is a licensed acupuncturist in your state, and for states that don’t require a license, check to see if they’re certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).