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What is Acupuncture?

A Chinese medical practice or procedure that treats illness or provides local anesthesia by the insertion of needles at specified sites of the body.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, there are different meridians or “roads” and acupuncture points are like major intersections. When Qi (“chee”) or energy is not balanced, the roads or major intersections become congested. A person’s specific picture or set of symptoms are determined by which major intersections are congested.

About Acupuncture

Using your tongue and pulse as a window to your body, your naturopathic doctor creates an individualized acupuncture protocol to help rebalance your Qi. Acupuncture is great for both prevention and the treatment of specific conditions. Scared of needles? The needles used in acupuncture are as thin as a strand of hair. Treatments are painless and are often found to be relaxing, giving the patient a much needed escape from daily routines. Cupping is also an ancient TCM technique that can be used to restore the smooth flow of Qi.

Here is a list of our acupuncturists in Downtown Vancouver:

Benefits of Acupuncture

These benefits highlight the diverse range of ways in which acupuncture can positively impact physical, emotional, and mental health, making it a versatile and valuable modality for holistic wellness.

Acupuncture is recognized for its ability to:

  • Relieve Pain: Effective in managing chronic pain, including headaches, neck, back, and joint discomfort.
  • Enhance Mental Well-Being: Assists in reducing stress and anxiety, promoting mental clarity and emotional balance.
  • Boost Energy and Immunity: Known to improve overall energy levels and strengthen the immune system.
  • Promote Holistic Healing: Encourages the body’s natural healing processes, enhancing physical and mental health.
  • Supports Digestive Health: Acupuncture can aid in promoting better digestion and relieving symptoms associated with gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, indigestion, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Improves Sleep Quality: Acupuncture has been shown to help regulate sleep patterns and improve overall sleep quality, making it beneficial for individuals struggling with insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Areas of Acupuncture

Cosmetic Acupuncture

Did you know acupuncture can be used to treat aging skin? As we age, the muscles in our face weaken and start to lose tone. Our skin produces less collagen and elastin as we get older. This causes skin to start sagging, and as a result, wrinkles are formed.

Cosmetic acupuncture uses thread-like needles to create a micro-trauma in the skin, stimulating red and white blood cell production. The increase in blood flow and oxygen help to decongest the skin and promote skin cell regeneration. Acupuncture needles are inserted into the dermis where collagen and elastin are stored. The process activates the release of collagen and elastin, enhancing the skin’s elasticity and youthful glow. Repeated treatments help strengthen the loss in skin tone. It is almost like taking your face to the gym. Regular tightening and firming up the sagging skin diminishes fine lines and wrinkles.

How to Know if Cosmetic Acupuncture will Work for You

Pull apart a wrinkle by holding the skin taut. If the wrinkle disappears or significantly diminishes, the wrinkle is due to a loss in muscle tone. In this case, cosmetic acupuncture can help! However, if the wrinkle is still visible even when the skin is held taut, it is a ‘static wrinkle’ formed on the surface on the skin. Unfortunately, static wrinkles do not generally benefit from cosmetic acupuncture but there are other treatments that can help. Check out our Dermal Therapy page to learn more!

-Claudia Chen

Acupuncture for Sciatica

Sciatica can be a very painful and debilitating condition that is often difficult to treat, so people are surprised with the results they receive from acupuncture. The sciatic nerve stems from the lower back and runs down the leg. The nerve branches out from the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebra (L4 and L5) as well as the top of the sacrum (S1). If this area has injury or muscle tension, it can compress on the nerve and send shooting pain down the leg. Depending on how severe the compression is, pain can be felt in the buttocks, down to the knee, or all the way to the ankle and foot.

A well-known injury that causes sciatica is a herniated disc in the lumbar area. Discs are cartilage between vertebrae in the spine, and if a disc ruptures from trauma such as a car accident or sports injury, it is called a herniated disc. Degenerative arthritis in the spine can also thin out cartilage and create pressure against the sciatic nerve. Or a person can develop muscle tightness in the affected area due to poor posture, scoliosis (curvature to the spine), or a number of other factors.

How Acupuncture Heals Sciatica

Using sports medicine acupuncture, needles penetrate through the skin into the muscle, releasing the muscle internally. An acupuncturist will often ‘stimulate’ the needles using gentle rotation and needle manipulations so that the muscle can be retrained to relax. We can also stimulate the nerve itself with acupuncture needles, get it to fire off and become less responsive to pain. Studies using thermal scans have shown that as an acupuncture session progresses, inflammation levels in the body decrease.

If sciatica is troubling you, acupuncture might be the treatment to take away your pain.

-Claudia Chen

Acupuncture for Insomnia

Insomnia or poor quality sleep is one of the most common disorders in modern society for which various therapeutic methods are offered. Acupuncture and herbal remedies are some of the safest and most efficient ways to improve the quality and regularity of sleep without the risk of side effects caused by pharmaceutical drugs.

TCM Acupuncture (Traditional Chinese Medicine) locates the root cause of insomnia from a personalized diagnosis and treats the problem by natural therapeutic methods. The major causes of sleep disorder in TCM are the imbalance of Yin and Yang and “poor spirit” (Shen). These are led by multiple reasons: overthinking (overworking of brain), emotional changes and stress including psychological trauma, poor nutritional intake, irregular lifestyle, and constitutional deficiency such as aging, chronic illness, and disturbed emotional state.

How Acupuncture Heals Insomnia

Generally speaking, TCM treatment and diagnosis of the patient is conducted by stimulating different combinations of meridians and targeting specific points in the body order to determine the root cause of the sleep disorder that varies from person to person. Together with acupuncture and herbal remedies, the treatment allows Qi energy to flow unobstructed, nourishing the entire body. By stimulating the Qi energy, increasing blood circulation and removing congestion within the meridians, beneficial physical and emotional changes in the body occur. The neuroendocrine system is activated to promote healthy sleep, boost liver functions to detoxify the body, and relieving physical and psychological pain, all of which play a big part in disrupting sleep. Along with the acupuncture and herbal remedies, the patient suffering from insomnia is coached about their constitution and lifestyle habits that are responsible for poor sleep, and guided on better practices to get the most effective results.

-Hyegwi Koh Doctor of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)

Acupuncture for Weight Gain

Inserting fine sterile needles at specific acupoints stimulates energy pathways (meridians) that connect internal organs to the skin and muscles. This helps in the natural release of hormones that gradually balance out the body and mind to reduce stress, and eliminate emotional disturbance.

How Acupuncture Controls Weight Gain

Acupuncture calms and relaxes the patient to allow more control on excessive eating habits brought on by increased stress, anxiety or depression. Weight gain is caused by various factors that depend on the individual’s condition and constitution. Mainly it is caused by the malfunction of the spleen and the liver, both which control metabolism and water retention that stems from imbalance of the endocrine system and kidneys. It may also weaken the thyroid gland and the digestive system that control sugar and hormones or lead to insufficient production of hormones in the adrenal and ovary glands triggering menopause or PMS, emotional stress, overeating or obsession about certain foods, producing stress hormones that block proper metabolism.

After diagnosing the root cause behind the individual’s weight gain, acupuncture or electrical acupuncture is used to activate energy along the meridian to boost water metabolism and burn fatty cells to treat and control specific causes. The procedure combines ear acupuncture with herbal remedies. Results may be more successful in those who desire to lose weight. Ear acupuncture helps increase the effect of acupuncture’s overall balance in the body through gentle and steady stimulation on the neuroendocrine system. It is combined with herbal remedies to bring internal organs to optimal condition to meet reasonable weight loss goals.

-Hyegwi Koh Doctor of TCM

Acupuncture for Neck and Upper Back Pain

In TCM, pain is the result of an imbalance or stagnation in the meridian network. By “imbalance” we mean an inadequate flow of blood and Qi (energy). “Stagnation” is a lack of movement in blood or Qi (energy). Imbalance and stagnation in the meridian network lead to inadequate nourishment to keep the body in strong and healthy physical condition. This makes the body more susceptible to experiencing pain, commonly called “Inflammation.”

Causes of Imbalance & Stagnation         

  • Trauma: usually related to a specific activity, limited movement.
  • Overuse or over-strain neck and shoulders: more gradual, usually related to a specific activity occurring over a long period of time.
  • Exogenous Wind/Cold/Damp: acute or chronic cervical arthritis caused by sleeping without providing the neck or shoulder with adequate warmth.

Acupuncture and Herbal Remedies: 

  • Correct the imbalance
  • Increase blood and Qi energy flow
  • Unlock stagnated energy
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Detox
  • Invigorate the blood and Qi energy points
  • Supplement the structures
  • Warm the meridian channels

TCM treatment does not just treat the symptoms of neck and shoulder pain but also corrects the root of the problem by encouraging the body to heal itself. If you have been suffering from neck pain, try TCM. It is safe, effective and treats not just the pain but the whole body without side effects.

Acupuncture Treatment for Fertility

Fertility is affected by several factors such as:

  • Andrology or gynecology issues
  • Fertility hormone regulation
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Low egg or sperm quality
  • Work environment
  • Medication or drugs
  • Diets and lifestyle
  • Psychological stress from irregular menstrual cycles, improper ovulation, sexual dysfunction, etc.

TCM views the human reproductive system as a network of energy systems. Each energy system has complementary organs and hormonal responses. The network responds to stress, chemicals, poor diet and excess emotions all of which can create imbalances in the body leading to health disorders.

Acupuncture and Herbal Remedies: 

  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Improve hormone levels including FSH, prolactin, estrogen and progesterone
  • Regulate menstrual cycle
  • Regulate the hormones to produce a larger number of follicles or sperm
  • Increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries
  • Improve the quality and thickness of the uterine lining (I.V.F. Assistance)
  • Decrease chances of miscarriage
  • Reduce stress

The practitioner will determine the state of your imbalances and prescribe a customized herbal formula, acupuncture and diet plan to regain balance and create a healthy environment for fertility and pregnancy.

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