Acupuncture is part of 10,000-year-old traditional Chinese medicine, a complete medical system that has been used to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness for thousands of years. At Rosedale Dermatology Centre, this system of healing is practiced by Dr. Stacey Shillington ND, a licensed Naturopathic Doctor.
In addition to therapeutic acupuncture, Dr. Shillington offers Cosmetic Acupuncture, an incredible facial acupuncture treatment that can revitalize and rejuvenate the skin.
What is Acupuncture? What Conditions Can It Treat?
Acupuncture brings the body into a state of balance by working with its energy and flow. It is based on the Taoist belief that the body is an integrated whole, consisting of the mind, body, and spirit. Each of these three parts is believed to work together, affecting the other’s ability to heal. For this reason, acupuncture is aimed at encouraging the whole body to promote natural healing and improve functioning. The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture as a treatment for a wide range of medical problems, including:
- Digestive disorders — gastritis and hyperacidity, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea, nausea
- Skin disorders
- Respiratory disorders — sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, chest infections
- Pain, neurological and muscular disorders — headaches, migraines, facial tics, neck pain, rib neuritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, tendonitis, lower back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis
- Urinary, menstrual, and reproductive problems, including infertility and PMS
- Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue symptoms
- Smoking withdrawal
- Physical problems related to anxiety, tension, and stress
How Does Acupuncture Work?
As the Chinese explain it, channels of energy run in regular patterns throughout the body and over its surface. These channels, or meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body. They irrigate and nourish the tissues. If any of these rivers are obstructed, that obstruction is like a dam that backs everything up and it can cause weakness on other meridians and internal organs in the body. That’s where acupuncture comes in. These meridians can be influenced by the fine needling of acupuncture points, which unblock the obstructions and can allow the regular flow of energy through the meridians. This can help the body’s organs to correct any imbalances in digestion, absorption, and energy production. The scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points causes the nervous system to release endorphins in the brain, muscles, and spinal cord. The endorphins will either change the experience of pain, or trigger the release of chemicals and hormones that influence the body’s internal regulating system. Acupuncture can produce an improved energy and biochemical balance, which results in the stimulation of the body’s natural healing abilities.
Is Acupuncture Effective?
For thousands of years, more people have been successfully treated with acupuncture than with all other health modalities combined. Acupuncture is growing more and more popular in North America, and is widely practiced in countries all over the world. It can often be used in conjunction with other treatments such as conventional medicine, chiropractic adjustments, and homeopathic and herbal prescriptions. While attitude is important in achieving wellness from acupuncture, there is more to acupuncture than just the placebo effect, or believing that the treatment will work. However, a positive or even neutral attitude can reinforce the effects, while a negative or disbelieving view may hinder the outcome of acupuncture, just as it can hinder any other treatment, Western or otherwise.
The Acupuncture Treatment Process
Acupuncture involves penetrating the skin with hair-thin, stainless steel needles. The needles are solid and their points are smooth, which makes insertion much less painful than injections or blood draws. In fact, most patients feel little to no pain at all.
As a licensed Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Shillington only uses sterile, disposable needles to eliminate the risk of infection. There are very few side effects from acupuncture treatment, and the most common side effects are limited to temporary redness or bruising at the site of needle insertion.
Feelings of deep relaxation or mild disorientation can occur immediately following the first one or two treatments, but this sensation passes quickly. Occasionally, the original symptoms of illness may persist for a few days after the treatment, and there may also be changes in sleep patterns, appetite, or bodily functions. How many acupuncture sessions a person will need depends upon the reason for the treatment. Chronic, long-standing conditions may require several treatments in a period of months. For health maintenance and prevention of disease, four sessions a year may suffice.