Are you curious if Acupuncture could help you? Does it really work and is it right for you?

Acupuncture is a complementary medical practice that entails stimulating certain points on the body, most often with a needle penetrating the skin, to alleviate pain or to help treat various health conditions. 

For over 2,500 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has focused on the concept of internal imbalance: what causes it, ways to treat it, and how correcting it can help us live longer, fuller lives. While the practice of TCM was developed centuries ago, its healing powers have endured the test of time to become a widely-used and highly-respected form of medicine both in Asia and all over the world.

Most clients I see first come to me because the Western Medicine System doesn’t have a solution for their condition, they are looking for a natural healing medical system or want an alternative to just popping pills and masking the conditions.

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Here are some of the most common questions:

I’ve heard about acupuncture, but I’m not sure if or how it can help me.  How can I find out?

Acupuncture is part of a complete system of medicine that evolved more than 3000 years ago in China, making it is one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures in the world. People discovered that inserting fine needles into specific points on the body stimulated the body's innate ability to heal itself. It continues to grow in popularity as it becomes more widely integrated into medical clinics and hospitals.   

Acupuncture is more widely known for its ability to treat pain of all kinds.  For example, joint pain, spinal pain, headaches, and migraines. Many aren’t aware that acupuncture is a complete medical system and is effective in treating a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Women’s Reproductive Health: such as infertility, PMS, painful periods, irregular cycles, endometriosis, and peri-menopausal concerns such as hot flashes and brain fog.

  • Mental Health: such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction.

  • Digestive Health Condition: including bloating, nausea, heartburn/GERD, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Neurological issues: Neuropathy, tinnitus, facial pain and paralysis.  It can also help manage symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

  • Pain Conditions: joint pain, fibromyalgia, TMJ, headaches, migraines, arthritic pain,

  • Acute injuries and chronic pain from an old injury.

  • Reduces symptoms and increases recover time of the common cold and flu.  

  • Reduces allergy symptoms and increases immunity to prevent future irritation.

  • General health & wellness, stress reduction, insomnia.

And while acupuncture may not provide a cure for chronic conditions or serious issues such as cancer, it can be a supportive treatment as it decreases the severity of the symptoms or the side effects of treatment.  For example, acupuncture is highly effective in treating the nausea and fatigue which often accompanies chemotherapy.

Is it safe?

Yes.  Acupuncture, when practiced by a licensed professional, is generally safe and free of any side effects.  All acupuncture needles are sterile, single use, disposable. The FDA as well as state laws require that sterile, nontoxic needles be used and that they be labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only.  The needles are used only once, then safely discarded. Significantly few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA in light of the millions of people treated each year.

I’m curious about acupuncture, but I’m afraid of needles.

Acupuncture needles are solid and hair-thin, unlike the much larger gauge, hollow hypodermic needles typically used for shots and injections.  People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel nothing at all or a small pricking sensation similar to a mosquito bite as the needles are inserted.   The needles are inserted swiftly and can be quickly adjusted if the you feel any discomfort.

Will my insurance cover it?

Acupuncture is becoming more commonly covered by insurance. However, you should check with your insurer before you start treatment to see whether acupuncture will be covered for your condition and, if so, to what extent.  

I recommend calling your insurance provider prior to your first appointment to verify your benefits.  Make sure to ask the following questions:

  • Do I have acupuncture benefits as part of my plan?

  • Are there any limitations on the types of symptoms and illnesses that are covered for treatment?

  • Is there a limit on the number of visits each year?

  • Is the acupuncturist I want to see in my network?

Should I tell my doctor I’m getting acupuncture?

Yes!  We always recommend sharing the details of any holistic treatments to your primary care or other physician. In addition, acupuncturists are usually happy to talk to your health care provider directly regarding the treatments we offer, as well as share details on your progress if you wish.

How do I find a qualified practitioner?

When you are ready to try acupuncture, it can be hard to know what to look for if you don’t have a direct referral from a friend or a trusted medical professional.    

Adding to the confusion is the fact that some other practitioners are legally allowed to offer acupuncture in their practice. For example, physiotherapists, naturopaths and even medical doctors have acupuncture as a small portion of their schooling. In comparison, although these practitioners are well trained health professionals, they have very limited knowledge and studies in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture in comparison to a Registered Acupuncturist.

In order to become a Registered Acupuncturist in Canada, the practitioner must generally meet three criteria:

  • Earn a Degree in Acupuncture or Oriental/Chinese Medicine, usually a 3-5 year full-time program of study or a Doctor in Chinese Medicine which could be 5-7 years of study.

  • Earn certification with the registered Board Certification of the practitioners province, like the CTCMA (in British Columbia) This involves a series of 3 or 4 in-depth board exams.

  • Apply for registration through the provinces medical board.  

Once you establish that they are licensed, it can often be a matter of finding the right “fit” with a person.  Check out their website, read their bios. Many acupuncturists offer a complimentary consultation in person or over the phone to discuss your particular concerns and give you a chance to visit the clinic before your initial visit.   This is a great way to meet them and see if you feel they will be a good fit for you.

Ready to try acupuncture for yourself and in Victoria BC? Book your initial consultation now.