Serving Iowans Holistically
WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
The basis of acupuncture is rooted in the awareness of the life energy, Qi, that flows throughout all living tissue. If living tissue loses its connection to the Qi, it begins to lose its form. In an ideal body, the Qi continuously flows to all tissue in an orderly and vibrant way. When the body is stressed in any manner, the Qi ideally adapts to changes within the body to restore balance. As an example, when you burn your finger on a stove, your Qi (awareness) results in a quick reflex to withdraw from the heat.
Your body Qi then immediately opens up the pathways of blood and Qi to flush the area with inflammation in order to protect the wounded site from an invasion of pathogens, and to begin the process of repairing the tissue. The Qi awareness--throbbing, aching, sensitivity--is purposefully painful to remind you to protect the area from further damage. The increased Qi and Blood swell the area, turning it red and dramatically speeding up the local metabolism. Depending on the severity, the Qi measures the proper amount of reaction and awareness of pain. Over the next few days, the extra awareness and circulation allows the local tissue to repair the injured area and replace the nerves, skin, and blood vessels. The increase in the metabolism speeds the replication of your dermal skin cells, leading to a peeling away of the old skin. As the wound heals and fades away, the Qi of our mind remembers the event and serves as a method of learning.
Acupuncture steps in when your body's Qi is incapable of restoring balance on its own. This can be due to any number of factors: fatigue, deficiencies or excesses caused by lifestyle choices or stressors, and much more. A large part of the acupuncturist's job is knowing where a patient's Qi might be stagnant or not working properly, and from that diagnosis he or she is able to make an informed decision about how to proceed with acupuncture, herbal or dietary remedies, or a combination of all of the above. The goal of acupuncture is to restore to a patient's body its proper balance, and from there a happy and healthful life.
WHAT ARE ACUPUNCTURE NEEDLES?
An acupuncture needle is a sterile, non-toxic, hair-thin solid needle. The FDA demands that they be bought and used only by qualified practitioners of acupuncture, and that they be single-use only. We use Seirin brand needles in our practice.
WHAT TO EXPECT
DURING AND AFTER TREATMENT
After that, the acupuncturist will take you back to your room and go over the information you've provided. A preliminary diagnosis may take place at this time, and you are always encouraged to ask questions as they arise. We know that for some individuals, the Oriental medical approach can be hard to grasp because of its difference from conventional medicine. This section of the appointment can take 10-30 minutes.
As part of the diagnostic process, the acupuncturist will take a detailed pulse evaluation as well as check the patient's tongue. The tongue shows the intimate state of the body's internal health. Pulse diagnosis is an intricate measure of the functions of the Qi and meridians.
Treatment generally lasts 45-60 minutes, although times can vary greatly depending on the patient and her/his needs. Typically the acupuncturist needs access to the arms, legs, and back. We recommend wearing loose, comfortable clothing to your treatments, but we provide covers upon request.
After your treatment you should be sure to drink plenty of water and healthful food. Acupuncture moves the energy within your body, so whether it feels at first like much has happened or not, the fact is that your body has done a lot of work during treatment and needs proper nourishment afterwards. Some individuals are energized by acupuncture, whereas others are relaxed. The most important thing to do is listen to your body, and do what feels right.
WHAT ARE ACUPUNCTURE POINTS AND MERIDIANS?
Acupuncture is a very complicated style of healthcare that has evolved over more than 2000 years. It has its roots in many regions in Asia and Europe, and each locale had slight variations in technique and theory. Elizabeth and William predominantly practice based on the traditional Chinese and Japanese styles of acupuncture, and within these theories is the concept of meridian channels.
Since acupuncture is based on the theory of Qi moving throughout the body, it follows that this energy flows along certain pathways. These pathways are called meridians, and they sometimes correspond to the nervous and circulatory systems and sometimes diverge from those pathways. Either way, acupuncture points are often located on those meridian channels and when an acupuncture needle is inserted it can strengthen, slow, and reroute the energy to flow properly along these meridian channels.
Other acupuncture points exist, sometimes outside the meridian systems, and these points can be located through palpation and are called ah shi (“ah, yes!”) points because they are often tense or sore when palpated.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE HURT? IF SO, WHY?
Acupuncture rarely hurts. The needles are very small and inserted only a small ways into the body. If pain is felt, it is usually described as a throbbing or aching sensation around the needle that lasts briefly. This is an indication that the Qi is being affected and the acupuncture needle is hard at work at that point. Most often, however, patients experience a momentary pinch as the needle is inserted and the rest of the treatment is relaxing enough that some patients are able to fall asleep.
Serious pain is never considered a normal side effect of acupuncture. It could be a sign that an acupuncture needle is inserted too close to a nerve bundle, the practitioner is incompetent, or the patient is highly sensitive. Always let your practitioner know if you are experiencing pain.
Other acceptable side effects include minor bruising and bleeding, but they are uncommon effects. Like with pain, serious bruising and bleeding is very rare and should be reported. We always want to make sure your treatments are safe and comfortable. Proper education and professional standards are key to making acupuncture safe and effective; for more information on Elizabeth and William’s degrees and training, click here.
2019 Iowa Acupuncture Clinic