What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the use of very fine needles inserted into places on the body known as acupuncture points. These encourage the functions of the body to work as it should do. Pain and ill-health occur when these functions are inhibited in some way.
What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
TCM encompasses the use of herbs as well as acupuncture, diet, lifestyle, exercise (eg Tai qi) and massage (eg Tui na)
How big are the needles?
Acupuncture needles are very, very thin. They vary from 0.16mm to 0.28mm. This is about the thickness of a piece of hair.
Does it hurt?
Generally, no, it doesn't hurt. Many people don't feel anything and others feel a dull sensation as the Qi moves through the body.
Is it safe?
Only single-use, pre-sterilized needles are used so there is no possibility of cross-contamination.
Sometimes a small bruise may appear at an acupuncture point site. Say if you suffer from a blood clotting condition.
What is sham acupuncture?
Sham acupuncture is a tool used in research to test real acupuncture against an acupuncture-like technique. This device allows the recipient to think they are having needles inserted and were developed to allow researchers to try to work out how acupuncture works. The general conclusion has been that true acupuncture and sham acupuncture do both have an effect and MRI imaging has shown that the two different models affect different areas within the brain. Interestingly "true acupuncture" results were shown to have a longer lasting impact.
Should you do anything
before or after an acupuncture treatment?
It is not ideal for you to arrive either very hungry or have just eaten a huge meal.
Avoid coffee, alcohol or any other stimulants before your appointment.
Come wearing loose and comfortable clothing
Drink plenty of water
Avoid heavy exercise. Maybe leave going to the gym until the next day so as to give your body a chance to adjust.
How does acupuncture work?
In 1972 President Nixon visited China and an accompanying journalist, James Reston, required an appendectomy. This was performed using acupuncture analgesia. James then told his story to the world thus bringing awareness of acupuncture to the west.
Since then there has been a lot of interest in how the body's natural analgesic opiates, the neurotransmitters, and in particular, endorphins, are stimulated by acupuncture. More recently scientists have been looking much deeper into human biomechanics and the mechanics of acupuncture function. One area of research is the consideration of the mechanical effects of de qi and how the qi grasps the needle. When an acupuncture needle is manipulated it stimulates the collagen and elastin fibres by wrapping around the needle. It then sends a message to the muscles and connective tissue cells via ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Adenosine is a component of ATP and carries energy within the ATP’s role in energy production within the body. This is remarkably similar to the Chinese concept of Qi. ATP is used in all living things as a source of energy and is the core of all cellular activity.
Another area of great interest is the function of fascia and how it conveys messages around the body. Within the body, phosphate and calcium combine to form hydroxyapatite crystals. When stimulated, the hydroxyapatite crystals create piezo-electricity. Stimulation can occur when an acupuncture needle is inserted and manipulated. This electricity is then sent around the body via the fascial planes. Fascia, which is primarily made up of collagen, is a conductor of electricity.
The fascia planes follow pathways that are very similar to the meridians described in the Ling Shu written over 2000 years ago.