What is Acupuncture?

The practice of Acupuncture was developed thousands of years ago in Ancient China as one component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which also includes herbal and dietary remedies, tui na/massage, Qi Gong/breathing exercises, cupping etc. Acupuncture involves the insertion of disposable, very thin, solid needles at specific points on the body to effect some change on the system.

Ancient theories view Acupuncture as one method of correcting imbalances or blockages in the flow of Qi (loosely translated as vital energy) through channels or meridians that cover the body. With the advent of modern science, we are able to explain the changes that occur during and after an Acupuncture session including: increased immunity, endorphin theory serotonin and noradrenalin release), circulatory effects and the gate control theory.

Acupuncture should not be painful when performed by a qualified practitioner however; some patients do report sensations such as tingling, aching, heaviness etc. In fact, many patients become very relaxed and may even fall asleep with this form of healthcare frequently being described as a period of deep stillness in which nothing seems to be happening. As everyone responds differently to treatment, some patients may feel the relaxation described above, whereas others may feel energized.

What to Expect on Your First Visit

Ensure that you wear loose, comfortable clothing to allow access to knees and elbows without being restrictive. Alternately, bring a pair of shorts or tank top to allow access to the area of complaint. It’s never a good idea to receive an Acupuncture treatment on an empty stomach so make sure to have a light snack prior to treatment. As many patients become very relaxed during treatment, it is normal to feel slightly ‘off’ after treatment. This may include feeling dazed, calm or peaceful, unable to focus or concentrate.

If you are unsure how you will respond to treatment you may elect to have someone drive you home. On occasion, you may experience increased discomfort for hours or even up to 1-2 days following a treatment, or the feeling that the needles are still retained, both of which are very common. It is important to listen to your body after you receive Acupuncture, rest when your body tells you, drink extra water or herbal teas and remain active with gentle stretching.

Frequency of Treatment

For most chronic ailments, it has taken time for the condition to develop and as such, it is unrealistic to expect resolution after 1-2 treatments. Most conditions respond favourably to frequent sessions at the onset (twice per week) however; more intense concerns may require more attention. One of the greatest strengths of TCM lies in prevention of illness with many patients continuing with monthly ‘tune ups’ to ensure their body is functioning at peak performance.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved-through controlled trials-to be an effective treatment includes:

  • Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Depression
  • Dysmenorrhoea
  • Facial pain
  • Headache
  • Hypertension
  • Induction of labour
  • Knee pain
  • Low back pain
  • Malposition of fetus, correction of
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Postoperative pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Sprain
  • Stroke
  • Tennis elbow

In addition, WHO notes diseases, symptoms or conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed:

  • Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Cancer pain
  • Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Female infertility
  • Facial spasm
  • Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
  • Gouty arthritis
  • Herpes zoster
  • Insomnia
  • Labour pain
  • Ménière disease
  • Neuralgia, post-herpetic
  • Obesity
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Raynaud syndrome
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Spine pain, acute
  • Stiff neck
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction

April 1, 2013 marked a momentous milestone for the profession of TCM in Ontario. On that date, Acupuncturists and TCM Practitioners in Ontario became Regulated Health Professionals. Check with your Insurance carrier as many plans cover Acupuncture.