What is acupuncture?

Through thousands of years of practice, acupuncture has evolved into a complete medical system that can diagnose, treat, and prevent illness. It is a safe, effective, and painless way to treat a wide variety of conditions. Acupuncture is based on an energetic model that encourages your body's natural healing abilities. This health care system strengthens and improves overall function, enhances recuperative power and immunity, and so as to enable you to regain and keep physical and emotional health.

The function of acupuncture is to ensure a continuous flow of vital life energy, called Qi (pronounced "chi"). Qi circulates in human body through specific pathways called Meridians. When life-giving Qi flows smoothly through meridian pathways, it will nourish every cell, organ and tissue in your body. If Qi becomes “backed up” in somewhere of your body, the Qi flowing to other areas will be restricted hindering the flow of Qi circulating within your meridian pathways. This can lead to pain and illness.

To relieve pain and illness, an acupuncturist places fine, sterile needles at specific acupoints along your meridian pathways. This safe and painless insertion of the needle unblocks the damming or obstruction of your meridians. Releasing this blockage allows the Qi to freely circulate, eliminating pain and restoring the body's ability to heal itself.

What is TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine)?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has formed a unique system to diagnose and cure illness for thousands of years since ancient China. This natural healing system has four distinct divisions: Acupuncture, Herbology, TuiNa (Chinese massage), and Food cures. Some TCM remedial exercises like qi-gong, and tai-ji can also be of benefits to patients.

TCM views our health in a holistic fashion. TCM applies the yin - yang principle of interconnection and continuous transformation to the human body to explain its physiology and pathology and further to guide clinical diagnosis and treatment the body. In the theories of TCM, a root cause for occurrence and development of a disease is imbalance between yin and yang.

A TCM licensed practitioner diagnoses a patient by four clinical examinations: observing, listening and smelling, interviewing and pulse-taking. Once an illness is diagnosed, the practitioner prescribes a treatment that will focus on restoring the balance of the body's yin - yang. Treatment such as acupuncture, herbal medicine or exercises may be used. A TCM practitioner cares for the entire person, both of the physical and the mental aspects. About one-quarter of the world's population are choosing TCM as an alternative medical care service.

What is a typical session like?

The first visit includes a consultation involving questions about the main complaints of the patient, medical history, and also about other systems in the body (ie. digestion, sleep, urination etc.). To conclude the consultation, a tongue and pulse diagnosis is made as both are very important diagnostic tools in Chinese Medicine. The consultation takes between 30 and 90 minutes depending on the patient's case. It is extremely thorough and quite often makes the patient notice symptoms that they never thought would be asked of them. After the consultation, the appropriate treatment is explained to the patient. This may be acupuncture, herbal medicine or some combination of the two. On additional visits, the first 5 minutes is used to asked about the progress of the patient and to determine if any symptoms have changed. The needles are inserted and generally retained in the body for 20 to 30 minutes. If the main complaint of the patient includes acute or chronic pain, massage/acupressure may follow the acupuncture. In most cases, the patient receives nutritional recommendations as well. From time to time, other techniques may be used like cupping, moxibustion, gua sha, to help the treatment.

How many treatments will I need?

The frequency and duration of treatments will depend on each patient's individual case. For example, acute conditions such as a very recent sports injury, the patient may only need one or two treatments, whereas a more chronic situation will require multiple treatments. I usually recommend treatments to be one to two times per week, but as the course of treatments go on and progress is made, the treatments become less frequent.

Does Acupuncture hurt?

The patient may or may not feel a very slight quick pricking sensation just as the needle is inserted into the skin layer but this should not be painful. When the needle goes deeper into the muscle layer, the patient should feel a slight sensation as the needle contacts the Qi (energy). This is called the “Qi sensation.” This sensation can be described as numbness, tingling, dull pressure, a type of electric shock feeling, or a sensation of heat. In some cases, the sensation travels along the meridian pathways and can affect whole areas of the body or limbs. This sensation should not be uncomfortable. Generally, when the patient feels significant “Qi sensations,” the acupuncture will have a better effect. During the treatment, stimulation of the acupuncture needle, with gentle movement, which may be performed to give more of a Qi sensation as well.

Will I have to get Acupuncture? I'm afraid of needles!

No, the alternative to acupuncture is acupressure or micro-current and light therapy, which is essentially acupuncture without needles (though it is not as effective as acupuncture). Treatment options are discussed with the patient to choose the most beneficial for the patient.

What are Acupuncture needles like?

Acupuncture needles are extremely fine (finer than even a pin) with a sharp point and made out of stainless steel. They come in different lengths and thicknesses according to which area of the body is to be treated. For example, a 0.5 inch long needle would be inserted into the scalp, ear, or face whereas a 3-4 inch needle would be used for the thighs/buttocks. We use pre-packed and sterilized disposable needles that are single use only. Once used, they are discarded into sealed containers.

What are Chinese herbs like?

The herbs prescribed to patients are in a concentrated powder form which dissolve in hot water and made into a tea. This is easier than having to boil raw herbs and is still highly effective. Herbs in capsules may also be prescribed for more convenient intake. The term "herbs" refers to the different elements found in nature; minerals, insects, plants, roots and fruits.

Are endangered species used?

No products containing endangered species are prescribed or sold through Bouchard Wellness. It is true that certain parts of endangered species have been used in Chinese Medicine for centuries because of their medicinal effects. Today, substitute materials are used. Some stores in Chinatown may still carry products that still contain certain endangered species, but we do not sell or distribute any of these. If the consumer is buying products through a store, they can avoid purchasing these products containing endangered species by reading the label.

Is TCM covered by Insurance?

Acupuncture is currently covered by a growing number of health Insurance plans. Look in your health insurance booklet to find out more about your specific coverage. Although Bouchard Wellness doesn’t bill insurance companies directly, detailed receipts are provided to patients who can claim reimbursement to their health insurance company.

What is Medical Acupuncture?

This refers to Acupuncture performed by MD’s, Physiotherapists, and/or Chiropractors who do not use TCM theories and approaches in their diagnosis and treatment. Many of these practitioners receive short-term training and use it as a tool to complement their regular practices, dealing mainly with acute and chronic pain disorders.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is very safe. It is absolutely drug-free; thus, there are no side effects except feeling relaxed after the procedure. The skin is sterilized with alcohol and disposable sterile needles are used, so there is little danger of infection.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments required depends on a variety of factors which may include the severity and duration of your problem, your current health, and your overall quality and quantity of Qi. The acupuncturist may suggest one or two treatments per week for several weeks, or monthly visits over time for health maintenance, seasonal "tune ups", or preventative medicine.

How should I prepare?

Don't be afraid to ask questions when you come to the clinic. Your acupuncturist is there to help you. Wear loose and comfortable clothing so your acupuncturist can have easy access to acupuncture points. Keep your routine diet. Do not come after and especially large meal, nor should you come in hungry. Do not overexert yourself after the treatment or use drugs or alcohol up to 6 hours after the treatment. Try to keep relaxed after your treatment. Do not stress yourself. Plenty of rest and a warm bath or shower is helpful. Make note of any changes that occur in your body between visits. Alleviation of pain or movement of pain to another area should be noted. Any information will assist your acupuncturist.

Why do they want to look at my tongue?

The tongue tells many things about your body. It can reflect your general health as well as the health of your organs and meridians. The acupuncturist examines the color, shape and coating.

Why do they want to feel my pulse?

An acupuncturist examines 12 main spots on your wrist. Each spot corresponds to an organ and meridian system. There are 27 different pulse qualities that the acupuncturist looks for. These 27 qualities reflect imbalances in your system.

Can I combine acupuncture and Western medicine?

Acupuncture, herbs and acupressure treatment can be combined with Western internal medicine, osteopathic, chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy or massage. However, it is advisable that patients who are undergoing herbs treatment take their herbal medicine at different times of the day than their conventional medicine. With the approval of the patient's western doctor, an acupuncture patient can generally reduce the use of Western medicine as their health improves.

What is Moxibustion?

This is also known as heat therapy. This technique involves burning a roll of a herb called "moxa" or "mugwort", above the acupuncture point. Sometimes a slice of ginger root or some salt is directly place on the treatment area, depending on the patient. This is a deep penetrating treatment and is very effective in treating weakness and sensitivity to cold.

What is Acupressure and Tuina massage?

Acupressure is an ancient Asian technique that involves using the fingers to press key points on the skin, causing the body's immune system to heal itself. Acupressure is very relaxing and promotes the release of endorphins that help ease pain. It focuses on the same points on the body as acupuncture, but without needles. Acupressure is a good way reduce tension and increase circulation, improving health and resistance to sickness. Tuina, a different term for acupressure, is essentially the same as accupressure and directly translates to "push grasp."

What is cupping?

Cupping involves attaching jars to the skin to treat pain and other disorders. It causes local congestion through negative
pressure. The jars are placed along specific meridians or around the pain area. It promotes the flow of Qi, while warming, dispelling cold dampness and helping with swelling and pain. Cupping is usually used to treat Bi syndrome caused by wind dampness, such as pain of the lower back, shoulders, legs, and gastrointestinal disorders such as stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhea and lung afflictions such as cough and asthma.