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Questions frequently asked about acupuncture.

Typically, an initial personal session begins with a thorough health assessment that includes pulse, tongue reading and discussion of particular needs and concerns unless an emergency such as a migraine headache requires immediate action! Words are then best kept for later!


In a community acupuncture clinic, the treatment is more likely to be geared toward the immediate symptoms and will not focus on the medical history and long term treatment. It is ideal for many types of body pain and immediate relief and less appropriate for more complex treatments and difficult diseases. During the treatment you lie comfortably on a massage table. Acupuncture points are chosen according to specific needs and symptoms.

Requirements, of course, may vary according to individual needs and situations. Most of the time, acute symptoms such as occasional headaches or nausea require only one or two treatments.

For more chronic or deeply entrenched symptoms, the frequency of treatments might need to be increased to every other day or a couple of times a week for a while and tapered off as the condition improves. This is discussed with your acupuncturist. As a health maintenance modality, a weekly treatment is usually a good average.

Let’s not forget that acupuncture is part of an old medicine system that was the medicine of the East. It has evolved and changed over centuries in response to all kinds of diseases and new conditions of life, epidemics etc. Therefore acupuncture can address all kinds of diseases either by itself or with the support of herbal treatments. In our modern times, acupuncture can also support conventional treatments or be an adjunct to medications, enabling to reduce dosage or control side effects.

The WHO published the following list regarding acupuncture:

WHO's List of Conditions Treated by Acupuncture

From WHO's Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trial of Acupuncture, year 2003. The diseases or disorders for which acupuncture therapy has been tested in controlled clinical trials reported in the recent literature can be classified into four categories as shown below.

  1. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved-through controlled trials-to be an effective treatment:
    • Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
    • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
    • Biliary colic
    • Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
    • Dysentery, acute bacillary
    • Dysmenorrhoea, primary
    • Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, andgastrospasm)
    • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
    • Headache Hypertension, essential
    • Hypotension, primary
    • Induction of labour
    • Knee pain
    • Leukopenia
    • Low back pain
    • Malposition of fetus, correction of
    • Morning sickness
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Neck pain Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
    • Periarthritis of shoulder
    • Postoperative pain
    • Renal colic
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Sciatica Sprain
    • Stroke
    • Tennis elbow
  2. 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)
    • Acne vulgaris
    • Alcohol dependence and detoxification
    • Bell’s palsy
    • Bronchial asthma
    • Cancer pain
    • Cardiac neurosis
    • Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
    • Cholelithiasis
    • Competition stress syndrome
    • Craniocerebral injury, closed
    • Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
    • Earache
    • Epidemic haemorrhagic fever
    • Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)
    • Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
    • Female infertility
    • Facial spasm
    • Female urethral syndrome
    • Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
    • Gastrokinetic disturbance
    • Gouty arthritis
    • Hepatitis B virus carrier status
    • Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
    • Hyperlipaemia
    • Hypo-ovarianism
    • Insomnia
    • Labour pain
    • Lactation, deficiency
    • Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
    • Ménière disease
    • Neuralgia, post-herpetic
    • Neurodermatitis
    • Obesity
    • Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
    • Osteoarthritis Pain due to endoscopic examination
    • Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome)
    • Postextubation in children
    • Postoperative convalescence
    • Premenstrual syndrome
    • Prostatitis, chronic
    • Pruritus Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
    • Raynaud syndrome, primary
    • Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
    • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
    • Retention of urine, traumatic
    • Schizophrenia Sialism, drug-induced
    • Sjögren syndrome
    • Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
    • Spine pain, acute
    • Stiff neck
    • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
    • Tietze syndrome Tobacco dependence
    • Tourette syndrome
    • Ulcerative colitis, chronic
    • Urolithiasis
    • Vascular dementia
    • Whooping cough (pertussis)
  3. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which there are only individual controlled trials reporting some therapeutic effects, but for which acupuncture is worth trying because treatment by conventional and other therapies is difficult:
    • Chloasma Choroidopathy, central serous
    • Colour blindness
    • Deafness
    • Hypophrenia
    • Irritable colon syndrome
    • Neuropathic bladder in spinal cord injury
    • Pulmonary heart disease, chronic
    • Small airway obstruction
  4. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture may be tried provided the practitioner has special modern medical knowledge and adequate monitoring equipment:
    • Breathlessness in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    • Coma Convulsions in infants
    • Coronary heart disease (angina pectoris)
    • Diarrhoea in infants and young children
    • Encephalitis, viral, in children, late stage
    • Paralysis, progressive bulbar and pseudobulbar

For utmost safety, in my practice like in most modern day Western practices only one-time sterile disposable needles are used. Accidents are very rare and, for that reason, acupuncturists enjoy very low insurance rates compared to their Western counterparts (less that $1,000 a year).

The two most common acupuncture accidents, which are not to be dismissed, involve pneumothorax (needling too deep into the lung cavity) and burns caused by poor use of heat through TDP lamps or moxa usually on people who have limited or no sensation in their limbs, because of diabetic neuropathy for example.

It is therefore important to choose someone you trust and who has been well trained in Chinese medicine. If you feel fear or are uncomfortable with the use of any points, just let your therapist know. Along the years, I have met patients who did not want to be needled on their hands, some not on their feet, some only on their belly. I have always found ways of working with all of them. Typically, their fear disappears after a couple of sessions. I have seen people go from being very nervous during the first treatments to peacefully falling asleep as soon as they lie on the table, even as I am putting needles in!

For children or for people who, for any reason, refuse needles, I offer a non-needle option, using an “acutron” probe and very mild electrical stimulation of points. It is a valid and effective option, especially for body pain. The difference is that, once needles are inserted, you can deeply relax while the needles do their job. An “acutron” treatment is more “busy” and includes more interference during treatment time.

Relaxing music is played during treatment and most people either fall asleep or reach a very deep state of relaxation. The time of needle insertion typically lasts from 20 to 40 minutes, occasionally longer if more time is required to alleviate certain symptoms.

A session may also include adjunct techniques such as aromatherapy or cupping (moving or fixed cups on specific areas of the body to relieve pain or tension)

An acupuncture treatment is a very enjoyable experience of pain relief, emotional balancing and deep relaxation and it comes as a surprise to many that they actually look forward to their acupuncture session after they discover it provides them with a new and unusual level of deep rest and relaxation.

This is probably, and understandable so, the most common question I hear as people typically do not have a strong affinity for needles. Please, when you have a chance, have a look at the needles and you will see how thin they are. There may be a sensation when the needle is inserted, experienced either as coolness, heat, a traveling current or electrical connection when the needle reaches the level of “Qi” or life force current. That sensation is very brief and stops once the needle is in.

Veterans of acupuncture typically look forward to that sensory signal that the body is “connected.” In some cases, it might slightly hurt but the sensation is again extremely brief and “electrical” in nature. It is nothing like the pain experienced with common or epidural injections for example. If a needle is uncomfortable once inserted, your therapist will take it out or adjust it.

Questions frequently asked about qigong.

Qi gong literally means "work with Qi"

Qi can be translated as energy, breath or life force among other names.

However, in Qi Gong, Qi is experienced directly as opposed to intellectually

Want to feel the Qi? Here is an easy way

Rub your hands together very strongly. Separate them by about 10 or 15 inches. Move them closer and further as if you were playing a small accordeon. This is also called "stretching the silk thread" Don't start with your hands too far apart as you might lose the sensation at the beginning. Gently synchronize the movement with your breath. Observe the various sensations that might include warmth, tingling or vibration or even a low vibration sound. Continue the movement until you feel  the magnetism between your two hands become stronger and thicker. As you practice, you will notice how the sensations get stronger, to the point where it might feel like a resistance to pulling your hands apart. This is Qi.

Do not strive too hard. There is no right or wrong. Just observe and know that practice increases Qi....

Another Chinese saying : "where the mind goes, the Qi goes." Thought and concentration direct and reveal Qi.

Qi gong is composed of series of movements synchronized with breathing to direct and reinforce Qi.

All martial arts stem from Qi Gong.

However, Qi Gong entails series of basic steps arranged and broken down into  sequences easy to remember and practice that may be applied to medical applications. Specific movements target strengthening your liver, your heart, your bones or kidneys.

The type of Qi Gong I teach, called Dao Yin Yang Sheng Gong, is based on the teachings and work of Mme Ke Wen, herself a student of Zhang Guangde. It consists of series of 8 beautiful and graceful movements practiced to music.

You experience Qi right away and learn how to assess it in your everyday life. Tiredness for example is a form of depleted Qi. You can identify your weak spots and work on them with various movements. One more tool in your health toolbox...no side effects

Qi Gong immediately brings emotional and spiritual dimensions into the practice of movements. It is deeply healing, builds our core energy, unblocks tensions and allowsdeep relaxation.

Qi Gong is traditionally practices to the sound of soft music.

Strength, beauty, elegance, grace, flexibility all in one...that is Qi Gong