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acupuncture

Frequently asked questions

What is acupunture?

Acupuncture is a 5,000 year old Chinese system of natural healing (no drugs, no surgery) which is concerned with restoring proper energy flow to the various organs, glands, meridians and tissues of the body on the premise that most diseases are the result of malfunction due to disrupted energy flow.

What can acupuncture help with?

Acupuncture aims at treating the patient, rather than the disease. This means that the acupuncture practitioner looks at the patients as a whole, finds the cause of the illness and the imbalance of energy causing it; the imbalance is corrected, thus restoring health to the entire body rather than removing the symptoms. Thus the Acupuncturist cannot answer questions like "can you cure a migraine?". The question should rather be: "can this particular patient be helped with the symptoms of a migraine?", and such a question can be answered after examining the patient.

Since every illness is the result of an imbalance of energy, or low immune system, acupuncture can help with managing the symptoms of many acute and chronic illnesses, as long as the degenerative process in the tissues of the body is not too far gone.

Does TCM work?

There have many extensive clinical studies that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of pain management, nausea and vomiting. Acupuncture also shows positive therapuetic effects in the areas of hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, digestive disorders, neurological problems and drug addiction.

How does acupuncture work?

Fine needles are inserted at points around the body to stimulate or suppress the flow of "qi" - the enigmatic life-force sometimes described as "electro-chemical" or "electro-magnetic" energy. There are about 500 acupoints along 14 energy meridians. 150 of these acupoints are most commonly used. Acupuncture aims to restore the balance of qi energy - a state of equilibrium when Yin and Yang are in harmony. Acupuncture may also help to relieve pain (from injuries or migraine) and suppress cravings. It has also been widely used for stress relief. Although the needles used in acupuncture don’t hurt, some people are nevertheless put off by their use.

Assuming I'm going to take acupuncture treatments, how are they performed?

First the related skin points are determined. Then they are appropriately treated by any of over thirty methods of stimulation, some of which are:

1) Long needle insertion
2) Short needle penetration.
3) Non-piercing needles.
4) Finger tip pressure (finger needles).
5) Metallic balls taped to the points.
6) Electrical stimulation.
7) Moxabustion (the burning of herbs over the points).

Who can receive acupuncture treatments?

  • There is practically no age limit for patients. Babies can be treated (needles are not used, as the massage of the point is sufficient) and there is no upper age limit!
  • Pregnant women can also be treated using special precautions in the choice of points. Therefore it is essential to inform the acupuncture practitioner in case of pregnancy.
  • Women can also be treated during menstrual periods, but it would be useful to inform the practitioner as this may account for observed changes in the pulse.

How long are the needles left in for?

The needles are usually left in place for between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on the conditions being treated. The removal of the needles usually causes no discomfort and only rarely is there any very minor bleeding from an insertion point. The inserted needle may also be stimulated by manually rotating the needle or heated with a moxa stick to enhance the effect. The needles can also be stimulated electrically using various frequencies and intensities.

What about needle sterilisation?

All members of the AACMA (Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association) must observe a code of practice which lays down stringent standards of hygiene and sterilisation of needles and other equipment. According to the NSW Skin Penetration Act, and the Department of Health, acupuncturists must provide protection against the transmission of infectious diseases. At New China Acupuncture Centre only single use sterile needles are used on patients.

Is acupuncture painful?

Acupuncture needles bear little resemblance to needles used in blood tests and injections. They are much finer, and are solid rather than hollow. Most people find acupuncture a pleasant and deeply relaxing experience. There should be no pain during the insertion of needles if the doctor is fully trained and experienced. When the practitioner carefully inserts the needles, you may feel a slight tingling sensation. A sensation such as a heaviness or distended feeling indicates that the acupuncture is working. Sometimes you may feel numbness at the point of entry or an energy transfer along the meridian to another part of the body. Needles are inserted either for a second or two, or left in place for up to 20 minutes, depending on the effect required. Acupuncture is very relaxing and rarely there is discomfort.

The benefits of acupuncture frequently include more than just relief from a particular condition: many people find that it can also lead to increased energy levels, better appetite and sleep, as well as an enhanced sense of overall well being.

How many treatments do I need?

Most health problems take more than one treatment to resolve. In general, the more chronic the condition, the more acupuncture treatments are required, therefore patients should not expect a "miracle". Also since every person is treated as a unique individual, it is not possible to forecast exactly the number of treatments needed. This depends on the effects and response of the treatments for each individual. It also varies from each individual person and their energy level. However, 1-2 visits per week is typical when you first commence treatments, your practitioner will draw on his experience to advise you in this matter.

What should one do or not do before or after a treatment?

Since the treatment changes the state of the energy of the body and affects the nerve, blood vessels, lymph vessels and muscles, it is best to avoid heavy physical work or excessive excitement or stress (alcohol, tobacco and coffee) after a treatment at least for one day. It is also prudent not to have acupuncture on a full or empty stomach, and not to have a bath two hours after treatment. Avoid alcohol and food and drinks which alter the colour of your tongue just before you have your treatment.

After acupuncture, you will feel relaxed or even slightly sleepy, so please take care not to tackle anything strenuous for a few hours following your treatment.

What reaction can one expect?

There can be many different kinds or reactions, but generally they can be divided into two broad categories:
1. There may be a slow progressive improvement;
2. There may be an initial worsening of the symptoms for a short period, followed by a marked improvement. This is quite normal and should not cause any alarm.

Why is one ill?

Usually an illness does not arise from a singular cause; rather often it is the result of a combination of factors:

1. Hereditary factors
2. External influences like cold, dampness, wind, heat, drought
3. Internal emotional disturbances like stress, anxiety, fear, resentment, anger, grief (or even excessive joy), etc..
4. Food; the poor quality and low nutritive value of today's food is a very important cause of disease. In fact most commercial food available is highly refined (therefore devoid of nutritional value) and contains all sorts of poisons like artificial flavouring, colouring, preservatives, excessive flavour of taste which is an imbalance to the diet, etc.
5. Trauma. Physical trauma (injury) or psychological trauma can both be a cause of disease
6. Drugs, medicines and surgical procedures can cause iatrogenic disease
7. Bones, joints and vertebrae out of position or alignment

Is there anything one can do to help oneself?

This follows from the previous points about the causes of disease.

1. External causes: avoid excess cold, dampness, wind, heat and drought, etc.
2. Psychological factors: acquire a positive way of thinking, discarding resentment, fears, anxiety, stress etc.
3. Try to eat natural foods as much as possible and replacing refined foods with whole food.
4. Exercise: Light or heavy exercise (depending on the age and body conditions) is very beneficial and important for the oxygenation of the tissues, better breathing techniques is recommended.
5. Stimulants: all artificial stimulants are to be avoided like alcohol, tobacco, coffee, drugs (hashish, LSD, etc.)

What is the main difference between Chinese medicine and Western medicine?

Chinese medicine treats the cause of the disorder, and Western medicine the symptom of the disorder. For example, two people may have the same symptoms of eczema, but the cause of the complaint may be completely different: one patient may have an imbalance of his or her liver, the other an imbalance of his or her spleen. A Western doctor may prescribe the same medicine for the ailment, but the Chinese doctor will treat the underlying cause of eczema and in this case, one patient will be treated for a liver imbalance and the other for a spleen imbalance.

How does a Chinese doctor make a diagnosis?

A Chinese doctor will ask you to stick out your tongue whilst probably taking your pulse and from this he or she will be able to make a diagnosis. The condition of your tongue, its overall colour and the coating will tell the doctor about the condition of your internal organs. Each of us has 125 different pulse rates to which Chinese doctors have been trained to be sensitive. From these pulse rates the doctor will again be able to tell the state of your internal organs.

Why choose Chinese medicine?

According to a survey in the Times newspaper, over seventy percent of doctors would recommend acupuncture to their patients as a complementary form of treatment. Acupuncture is becoming a modern medicine science, with the advances of electro-acupuncture, laser acupuncture and TENS Pain Management. Acupuncture is also fast becoming accepted as a mainstream form of treatment. At New China Acupuncture Centre, practitioner Hoc Ku Huynh has been a long established leader in this profession, having started his clinical practice in 1976.