Does acupuncture hurt? Acupuncture needles are as thin as a strand of hair. Most people do not even notice the insertion of the needle, however occasionally it can produce a quick pinching sensation as it enters the skin. Sometimes the patient will experience the sensation of the "energy arriving at the point". This is normal and can be felt as radiating warmth, tingling or heaviness. How does it work? Qi (pronounced "chee") is life-force energy that travels along the pathways of our body called meridians. Acupuncture points are located along the meridians, and are spots where the Qi can be accessed. The points have specific affects on the body and indications in treatment. It has been shown that acupuncture points are spots of lowered electrical resistance. In western terms, acupuncture works by stimulating the nerves, muscles and connective tissue. By doing so the immune system is activated, blood flow is increased and natural pain killing substances are released within the body. Additionally other physiological changes occur within the body during acupucnture treatment such as a shift into para-sympathetic ("rest and digest" mode), slowing of brain waves, and changes in the brain chemistry consistent with states of deep relaxation, awareness and healing.
What does it work for? Chinese Medicine is an effective treatment for many conditions and excels in that it is a preventative medicine. By receiving regular acupuncture treatments you are doing yourself a great service by improving your overall state of health and preventing illness. Please use the following link to view the World Health Organization's list of conditions treated by acupuncture: http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js4926e/5.html
Do I have to believe in it for it to work? The answer to this question is no. While having a positive state of mind helps with any type of treatment, conventional or otherwise, it is not necessary to "believe" in acupuncture for it to work. This is evidenced not only through clinical study in "non-believers", but by the fact that animals and small children who cannot be instructed to "believe" receive relief through the use of acupuncture.
Is it safe? When practiced by a licensed, trained acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe and there is no danger whatsoever.
Who can't receive acupuncture? Those who have a hemophilic condition, a severe psychotic disorder or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Can children receive acupuncture? Yes, children can receive acupuncture and often have excellent results with this treatment. If a child is uneasy about needles, acupressure (massage of the acupoints) may be used instead.
Are there any side effects or complications? Acupuncture is an extremely safe method of treatment, and as such, side effects and complications are extremely rare when treated by an experienced, licensed practitioner. However, a small number of patients do have reactions to the procedure which may include temporary nausea, lightheadedness and fainting. Most often this is due to not eating before a treatment.