What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the most popular modalities in the world of natural medicine, so you may have heard of it before. And if you have, you probably have some misconceptions about it as well.

Photos of people undergoing acupuncture might scare you away from the treatment forever, but it’s not as painful as it looks. In fact, most patients report very little or no pain at all. But more on that later.

Many naturopathic doctors in Toronto are trained acupuncturists, including Dr. Lee and Dr. Luck here at Annex Naturopathic. So we put this article together for you to explain more about acupuncture, clear up any misconceptions, and help you know what to expect.

 

First off, does acupuncture hurt?

This is the most common question. It does look painful, doesn’t it? It sounds painful too; getting dozens of tiny needles stuck into you doesn’t seem like an enjoyable experience.

But acupuncture needles are not designed to pierce deeply into your skin the way a hypodermic injection needle does. They do pierce the skin, but on a much more superficial level. On top of that, acupuncture needles are much smaller.

Most people say they feel only a slight pinprick along with a mild tingling sensation, and sometimes a mild, dull ache. Occasionally, a needle may hit a blood vessel or a small nerve, which can cause the pinprick to be more painful, but still quite mild.

 

Where does acupuncture come from?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest medicinal practices from China. Archaeologists have found evidence of what looks like acupuncture needles from as far back as 6000 BCE. We've also found that Otzi, the "Ice Man" who was pulled from a glacier and died around 3300 BCE, had tattoos on some of the meridianal channels used in acupuncture. Otzi was from Europe, so this could mean early Europeans created their own version of acupuncuture!

The earliest confirmed date of what is undoubtedly acupuncture, though, comes from about 100 BCE in The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine. This explains the concepts of the meridianal channels through which qi (energy, or life force) flow.

Europeans first came upon acupuncture in the 17th century, when the East India Company began trading with China and Japan. But it wasn't until 1971, when a member of the US press corps was given acupuncture while in China to help recover from an emergency appendectomy, that acupuncture began to gain popularity in the west.

Today, acupuncture is commonly used to treat a number of different ailments, with new research being done on its effects all the time.

 

What is acupuncture good for?

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2012 examined a group of nearly 18,000 patients suffering from back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, or shoulder pain.

Of the different control groups they set up, the one that received acupuncture reported greater relief and less pain than the other control groups. Based on this testing, they concluded that acupuncture is more effective than a placebo and is useful for treating chronic pain.

Other studies have been done to suggest acupuncture can be effective for treating a range of other health issues, including certain eye conditions, headaches, fibromyalgia, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more.

 

Can acupuncture help you?

If you’re wondering whether acupuncture can help with any health conditions you’re experiencing, contact Annex Naturopathic today. You’ll get a chance to speak with one of our naturopathic doctors who will answer your questions and help you better understand how acupuncture or other naturopathic modalities can help you live a healthier, more vibrant life.

Contact Annex Naturopathic at (647) 624-5800, or come visit us at the clinic at 572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1