Tuesday, December 16, 2008
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine involving the insertion of solid, single-use, sterilized, stainless steel acupuncture needles into the skin at specific points on the body to achieve a therapeutic effect. Acupuncture is used to encourage natural healing, improve mood and energy, reduce or relieve pain and improve function of affected areas of the body.
Acupuncture stimulates the body to produce its own pain relieving chemicals called “endorphins”. These chemicals mimic morphine, a natural pain reliever made by the body. Acupuncture has been shown to stimulate the immune system, affects the circulation, blood pressure, rhythm and stroke volume of the heart, secretion of the gastric acid, and production of red and white blood cells. It stimulates the release of a variety of hormones that help the body to respond to injury and stress.
How does Acupuncture work?
Thousands of years ago, Doctors of TCM mapped out a series of pathways within the body called meridians. Meridians travel throughout the entire body on the front and back, connecting every organ and gland. Along these meridians are acupoints. Each acupoint effects the body and mind when stimulated. Together, these pathways, points and organs, form what we call the Meridian and Organ network. Within this network flows the essential energy called Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is the spark of energy that animated and brings life to the body. It’s a substance that provides energy, nourishment, and support for every cell, tissue, muscle, organ, and gland. Qi travels through the body in precise and predictable ways, from one organ system to other, providing nourishment for the body and mind to function and work optimally. Meridians are like great rivers flowing inside each and every one of us. If there is a restriction in the way Qi flows in the body, much like a dam were placed in a river, everything downstream will not receive proper support and nourishment to keep the body and mind healthy and flourishing. Qi becomes restricted or blocked, an imbalance will occur, and eventually our well-being can become compromised. When a particular meridian is blocked and out-of-balance, a variety of symptoms and signs will appear. Acupuncture stimulates and promotes the flow of Qi. Dr. Nicole Mitchelson’s goal is to discover where Qi has become restricted, blocked and out-of-balance. Once she uncovers this problem, she will then use certain acupuncture methods to remove the blockage, uncover the root cause of the problem and facilitate the free flow of Qi.
What does TCM and Acupuncture treat?
Women’s health: menopause, irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, painful periods (dysmenorrhea), menorrhagia, PMS, infertility, low libido, etc.
Digestive complaints: IBS, GERD, ulcerative colitis, ulcers, constant diarrhea, constipation, gastritis, etc.
Pain management: rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, low back pain, knee pain, headaches, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel, sciatica, tendonitis, TMJ, neuralgia, etc.
Mental: stress relief, fatigue, insomnia, depression, headache
Skin: acne, eczema, psoriasis
Respiratory: frequent colds, allergies, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis.
Does Acupuncture hurt?
Nope! When the needle is inserted into the skin, the patient might feel a mosquito bite sensation. Most patients are unaware when the needles are inserted. Once inserted, Dr. Mitchelson may manipulate the needles depending on the condition. A dull, tingling, heavy sensation may be felt, yet never painful. Many find acupuncture so relaxing that they fall asleep on the table while the needles are in!
How many treatments do I need?
After the initial assessment and treatment, usually Dr. Mitchelson asks a patient to commit to 5-10 treatments. One treatment every week for 7-10 weeks consecutively. Everyone reacts differently to the treatments, and each patient’s situation is unique, therefore a set amount of treatments cannot be guaranteed. Generally, acute conditions take a shorter amount of time to treat, whereas chronic conditions take a longer amount of time to treat. After the desired therapeutic effect is accomplished, patients book once a month or as needed for “maintenance” treatments. Take note that Traditional Chinese Medicine is not a “quick fix” (although it can be with aches and pains), but rather a slow gradual process that leads to long lasting results.
Does my health insurance cover Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Most private health insurance companies and work plans provide a set amount of money for acupuncture. Please check your own insurance policies to see if coverage is provided.
Is Traditional Chinese Medicine regulated in Saskatchewan?
No. Currently there is no regulation for acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine in Saskatchewan. In order to receive a safe and effective treatment, it is important to see a licensed or registered practitioner (L.Ac or R.Ac). A licensed acupuncturist must complete a graduate program in Traditional Chinese Medicine (approx. 3000 hrs.) and pass provincial board exams in Acupuncture and TCM. In Canada, some other medical practitioners may practice acupuncture with as little as 0 to 200 hours of training, which is clearly not a sufficient amount to ensure a proper diagnosis and safe treatment.
Dr. Nicole Mitchelson is a licensed, registered acupuncturists (L.Ac/R.Ac) by the province of Alberta. She took her 5 year Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine degree at the Calgary College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture: www.cctcma.com, and passed the Alberta Health Disciplines board licensing exam. Patients are encouraged to check an acupuncturist’s credentials before beginning a treatment regime.