What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a part of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) which is a holistic system of treating disease and promoting health. Holistic means it assesses the whole patient and does not just focus on isolated symptoms.

TCM has a 2000-year written history but has likely been practiced for over 6000 years. It looks at the energy or qi (pronounced chee) in the body and the various organ systems. Acupuncture points are “energy hubs” located along meridians—lines of energy that connect the different points.

Acupuncture has sometimes been interpreted by western minds as treating local disorders only. For example, if a patient has knee pain, we may put needles around the knee. This approach does work but does not capture the whole potential of TCM. With local points, we create a sort of micro-trauma that causes small amounts of inflammation and encourages the body to have a healing response in that particular area. But rest assured, even if we don’t put needles directly into your area of concern, everything in the body is connected. Acupuncture will frequently treat areas with points far away from the body part in question because of the energetic connection of the meridians.

What can acupuncture help treat?

Acupuncture can help manage a myriad of different concerns including—constipation, diarrhea, menstrual difficulties, infertility, joint pain, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, headaches, mood swings, tight muscles, sinus pressure, Bell’s palsy, nasal congestion, cravings, smoking cessation, fatigue, high blood pressure, etc. There is even promising research looking at using acupuncture to help treat more serious conditions like Parkinson’s, MS and post-stroke rehabilitation. When doing an acupuncture intake, your whole case will be considered because different points can be needled to address disparate concerns in the same visit.

How many treatments will I need?

This is highly dependent on the nature of your condition, how long you’ve had it, general health status and frequency of treatment. Some health concerns can be eliminated while others may need ongoing management. Most of my patients notice that the effects of acupuncture tend to accumulate over time. For example, they may feel their anxiety lift after treatment, but the effect only lasts a few days after the first treatment. Then, after each subsequent treatment, the effect lasts longer and longer. It often works this way because we are building up and regulating your qi. TCM practitioners typically recommend 2-3 treatments per week at the beginning of treatment. However, many patients can’t fit that many visits into their busy schedules. But even with only 1 treatment per week, the effects will eventually build up so that treatments can be spread farther apart.

Who is a good patient for acupuncture?

Anyone with an open mind who is also willing to work on their own health. I almost never recommend acupuncture as the sole treatment approach. Most people will also benefit from diet/lifestyle interventions as well. Taking an active role in your health is one of the greatest predictors for resolution of health concerns and continued well-being.

Book your appointment today at any of our three Chicagoland clinics!