++ Why do I need a long consultation for initial visit? ++
When we see a new patient, the first thing to do is to make a diagnosis based on Chinese medicine theory. We treat the body according to the diagnosis. Let’s say, we have ten people with the same Western diagnosis. When they are assessed by Chinese medicine, they could have ten different Chinese Medicine diagnoses. This process of making a diagnosis is very important for successful treatment with a fast result because the treatment is decided by the diagnosis. So how do we make a diagnosis? We do not use a blood test or imaging. Our diagnosis relies on intake (thorough questions about your whole body and mind) as well as pulse, tongue and abdominal diagnosis. To collect the whole information on your body, it may take one hour or more. There is no single treatment or protocol for everyone. Treatment indeed depends on the individual body condition (diagnosis in Chinese medicine) not Western diagnosis.
When I work with patients who come to see me for fertility, I would like to teach them a good diet, lifestyle and supplement intake that can help with fertility. By doing this, we can work on fertility from many different aspects to increase the chances to get pregnant naturally and/or through any Western treatment. This may take 15-30 minutes.
++ What is acupuncture? ++
Acupuncture is one of the modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine that is done by inserting very fine needles into points on the body.
++ How does acupuncture work? ++
Acupuncture corrects the imbalance of energy (qi). There are twelve pathways that carry qi and blood throughout the body. These pathways are called 12 regular channels or meridians, each of which is associated with one of the twelve organs (heart, spleen, liver, kidney, liver, etc., but they are not the same as the anatomical organs). There are also pathways of qi and blood called eight extraordinary meridians, which run deep within our bodies, and supply the 12 regular meridians with qi and blood, supporting our DNA or genetic heritage.
Your acupuncturist first identifies what kind of imbalance you have, which channel(s) is diseased, and chooses acupuncture points to use. This is the explanation based on Chinese Medicine.
Here is another explanation which I prefer and always give to my patients: what acupuncture needles do is stimulate peripheral nerves which send signals to the central nervous system, including the autonomic (sympathetic & parasympathetic) nervous system and the brain. For example, acupuncture is very good at relieving pain. Needle stimulation sends information (of where you have pain) to the brain. The brain releases the body's natural painkiller/narcotics called endorphins/enkephalins, which creates instant relief from the pain and calms your mind. Also the brain starts sending the blood flow to the local area for you to heal from your chronic pain. The blood flow is the key for healing. Needles are inserted according to the problematic area (e. g. the location of your pain, reproductive organ, digestive organ etc.), and they tell your brain where to be healed - nothing like a concept of "healing energy".
++ What should be expected when getting acupuncture treatment? ++
On your first visit, expect to go though an extensive history intake followed by pulse, tongue and abdominal diagnosis. It may take one hour or so to make a diagnosis. It is essential for an acupuncturist or TCM practitioner to view your body holistically to make a TCM diagnosis (called pattern differentiation) and treatment plan. Basically we treat the body according to TCM diagnosis.
During treatment, you may be lying on your stomach or back, or sometimes sitting or lying on your side while your acupuncturist is inserting needles. The position is determined depending on the selected points. The commonly used points are located in the forearm including the wrist & hands, lower legs (knees & feet), chest, abdomen, back, face and head. Points are selected depending on your condition. You will then rest for approximately 30 minutes until treatment takes effect.
Your initial visit with a history intake followed by diet/supplements/lifestyle advice takes 90-120 minutes. Follow-up acupuncture visits usually take one hour.
++ Is acupuncture painful or uncomfortable? ++
Acupuncture needles are very fine, about the size of a human hair. Even thinner needles can be used for sensitive points and sensitive people. You may feel nothing or you may feel some sensations on insertion such as pressure, tingling, etc. but these are called “arrival of qi”, which is an important sign that the needle is doing its job. I usually get a response like “Oh...is that all?” or “I didn’t feel anything!” from patients who have never had acupuncture before. Acupuncture has a calming effect and some patients fall asleep during a session.
++ Is acupuncture safe? ++
First, needles come in sterilized packages and are disposable. There is no chance of blood-borne infection via needles.
Secondly, all acupuncture points are first swiped with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball prior to needle insertion in order to avoid local skin infection.
Lastly, and most importantly, I would say that acupuncture is safe only if performed by a qualified acupuncturist who has extensive training and a deep understanding of all the acupuncture points and the body anatomy. For example, needles can puncture a underlying organs such as the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, spleen, urinary bladder, spinal cord, brain etc. without anatomical knowledge and caution. Some points are contra-indicated (i.e. are prohibited from being used) during pregnancy. However, you do not have to worry about these if you receive acupuncture from a qualified and experienced acupuncturist.
++ Are there any side effects of acupuncture? ++
Usually not, however, occasional side effects include bruising and fainting (rare). Fainting can be avoided if you have acupuncture when lying down. It is also important not to have acupuncture when you are hungry, extremely tired, or drunk. Occasionally, you may feel light-headed or sleepy a short while after acupuncture but this is nothing to worry about.
Bleeding rarely occurs, but occasionally you may get a bruise, which will disappear in 5-7 days.
++ Is acupuncture covered by OHIP? ++
++ Is acupuncture covered by insurance? ++
If you have extended health plan, it may cover acupuncture. It depends on your insurance policy. Please check with your insurance company.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
++ What is Chinese Herbal Medicine? ++
Herbal Medicine is one of the treatment modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). You take granules/tablets/tincture/tea made from Chinese herbs. I usually prescribe granules or raw herbs for herbal tea, depending on your condition.
Although acupuncture is also a great modality of TCM, Herbal Medicine is better for treating complicated cases. Acupuncture is very good at activating the qi/energy and calming your mind, while herbal medicine has stronger effects on replenishing the substances (the blood and yin discussed in Chinese medicine, which are especially important when we work on fertility and women's health) you are lacking and removing the substances that you shouldn’t have in the body. Very often, the best/faster result is obtained from the combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine.
++ What are Chinese herbs? ++
Most herbs come from plants - roots, rhizomes, barks, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, and so on. Others are shell, minerals, and so son. Some (not many) come from animals. Each herb has its nature (temperature, taste and where it works in the body) and actions (usually several). A herbalist should have great knowledge of not only the natures but also possible adverse effects and proper dosage, and carefully choose herbs that suit your condition.
++ How do I take herbal medicine? ++
Usually you take herbal granules/tea twice a day, in the morning and in the evening (or before going to bed if indicated). If you are prescribed a tailor-made formula of raw herbs, you are required to cook herbs by yourself once in every other day or two days. It’s is not difficult at all. If you travel very often, granules can be prescribed and you can take them with you. For complicated cases, I usually prescribe raw herbs, while I prescribe granules for cases with simple conditions. I also use a professional cooking service for my patients so that they can simply open a pouch and drink the herbal tea in it twice a day.