Acupuncture is used everyday by people all over the world and has been used by millions of people for over 5000 years.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the major components of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is probably the one that people are most familiar with in the western world. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a natural system of healthcare that has been widely used around the world by millions of people for several thousand years. The other aspects of TCM are Chinese herbal medicine, Qigong, tuina (Chinese massage therapy) and dietary therapy.
The philosophy behind TCM is that the body is like a microsystem within the macrosystem of its environment. The health of each person will be influenced by dietary, lifestyle, climate, pollution, stress and emotional factors, particularly if any of these are extreme or sustained over a long period of time.
TCM uses a unique system of viewing the body to assess and understand the ways in which your body can be out of balance as a result of these influences, causing symptoms such as illness or pain.
What does acupuncture do?
In TCM energy (Qi) is believed to flow through the body along particular pathways. When this flow is disrupted your body becomes unbalanced and unwell. Acupuncture uses very fine, sterile needles which are inserted at points along these meridians, aiming to regulate the flow of Qi and help guide your body back to a more balanced state. This means that acupuncture can support your body to change the way it operates when it has become out of balance with dis-ease. The body has a natural ability to heal itself, which can get off track. Acupuncture helps guide your body back to better functioning, in combination with a healthy lifestyle and diet.
If someone is highly stressed and suffering from headaches or insomnia or recurrent infections or irregular periods for example, an acupuncturist will look at the whole picture to see how it’s manifesting in terms of Chinese medicine and will treat you according to those principles. Sometimes stress causes Qi to stagnate (become blocked) in the body, sometimes it causes Qi deficiency, either of which can manifest as some of those symptoms mentioned above. Acupuncture treats the stagnation or deficiency, assisting your body to improve its ability to heal.
Let us explain this even further. You may suffer from any number of symptoms such as pain, gut issues, migraines, skin problems, fatigue, inability to conceive, painful periods or hot flushes. From a Chinese medical point of view, we look at your unique collection of symptoms and put them together to reveal what we call ‘patterns of disharmony’. Some of these patterns include: Qi deficiency, Qi stagnation, Blood deficiency, Blood stagnation, Yang deficiency, Yin deficiency, Damp, Damp-heat, Damp-cold, Heat (excess, deficient or upward rising), Wind-cold, Wind-heat etc.
This may sound weird and strange, and in many ways it is! It’s a very different way of looking at health than what most of us are used to. Chinese medicine sees your body more like a tree. When there is a problem with the leaves (your symptoms) we don’t just look at the leaves, we look at the branches, trunk and most importantly the roots of the tree, to ascertain where the issue is coming from. Chinese medicine treats the root of the problem and we label these root problems as the ‘pattern/s of disharmony’. Tending to the root helps to resolve those branch and leaf issues you may have and helps to improve your body’s overall health as well. A client may come in for headaches but also find that they are now sleeping better and their digestion has also improved.
Below is a list of the main Chinese medicine patterns. This is not exhaustive and you don’t need to have all the symptoms listed under each category to have that pattern. It’s important to get assessed by a trained acupuncturist as they will be able to tell you what your pattern of disharmony is. You may have several patterns and like any health discipline, it’s important not to self-diagnose.
Traditional Chinese medicine ‘patterns of disharmony’:
Qi deficiency – if you regularly feel awake at the start of the day and tired in the afternoon, or if you tire easily after some exercise and you’re not invigorated by it, or if you sweat for no reason, if you’re constipated or often get diarrhoea, if you are constantly fighting off infections, colds, coughs, and/or have a pale swollen tongue, you maybe Qi deficient.
Qi stagnation – if you regularly wake up feeling tired but feel better after you’ve started moving, if you’re invigorated by exercise, if you suffer from regular irritability, if you get PMS, mildly painful periods, irregular periods, constipation and/or diarrhoea, bloating, regurgitation of acid, if you have sore breasts before your period, if you feel regularly stiff, have cold hands or feet, get certain types of headaches, suffer from aches and pains, then you could have Qi stagnation.
Blood deficiency – If you feel light headed, have dry skin, have a light period or no period, hair loss, constipation, difficulty sleeping/insomnia, floaters in your vision, tendency to fainting, feeling regularly sad, a pale tongue body, then you could have Blood deficiency.
Blood stagnation – if you feel strong, sharp or stabbing pain anywhere in your body; this could occur at menstruation, could be from a physical trauma, could be from migraines or headaches, if you have varicose veins, spider veins, clotty periods, dry skin, immovable solid masses in the body, and/or a purple tongue body you could have Blood stagnation.
Yang deficiency – if you feel cold more often than other people, if you get a sore lower back at period time, or a sore lower back generally, if you have constipation or diarrhoea, impotence, difficulty conceiving, if you have swelling, trouble losing weight, are incontinent or need to urinate too often, are tired all the time, suffer recurrent miscarriages, have painful periods, then you may have a Yang deficiency.
Yin deficiency – if you’re suffering from hot flushes, if you feel hot more than cold, if you have trouble sleeping, a thin body type, if you have little or no fertile mucus, are constipated, have a red tongue body, have dry skin, dry eyes, dry mouth you may have a Yin deficiency.
Damp – if you feel heavy, if your mind feels foggy, if you have phlegm that’s difficult to clear, have diarrhoea, sticky poos, a thick coating on your tongue, low appetite, no thirst, have any swelling, a musty smell, if you have abdominal discomfort after eating then you could have Damp.
Damp-heat – if you have loose bowel movements that are smelly, smelly vaginal discharge that’s yellow in colour and copious, boils, yellow sore pimples, you’re coughing up yellow phlegm, you’re blowing yellow mucus out of your nose, you have sore hot joints, a swollen tongue body with a sticky looking yellow coat, you could be suffering from Damp-heat.
Damp-cold – if you have loose bowel movements with low or no smell, vaginal discharge that’s white in colour and copious, you’re coughing up clear or white phlegm, you’re blowing clear or white mucus out of your nose, you have sore joints that are better for warmth and worse for cold, a swollen tongue body with a sticky looking white coat, you could be suffering from Damp-cold.
Heat (can be excess, deficient or rising heat) – this could manifest as high blood pressure, headaches where you feel hot in your head, raging anger, feeling hot at night, feeling hot when others are not, hot flushes, a red tongue body, red complexion, nosebleeds, heavy periods, or a sore throat.
Cold (can be excess or deficient) – cold causes contraction and blocks the flow of your energy causing symptoms such as pain, cold sensations in parts of your body, menstrual and fertility problems.
Wind-cold – this relates to the time when you start to feel like you’re coming down with a cold and your phlegm is clear or you don’t even have much phlegm yet, you feel slightly blocked in your nose, you have a headache which moves in location, body aches that move too, your eyes feel tired and you feel like you need to cover your neck with a scarf!
Wind-heat – this relates to when you get a sore throat and your nasal mucus is dis-coloured and could be yellow, you may also have headaches that are moving around, body aches that are moving around, you’re overall tired and run down and it’s the initial stage of a cold or flu.
Our acupuncturists believe in integrative medicine. We work closely with your GP, specialist, midwife or obstetrician to support your overall health care plan. Chinese medicine works well in combination with your regular medical care. In countries like China, the USA, Germany and New Zealand, acupuncture is commonly accessible in hospital settings as an adjunct to other care the patient is receiving.
Acupuncture has many complex effects on the body which are only just starting to be explored and understood with modern research methods. If you’d like to read about acupuncture research, please check out this link: https://www.acunow.org/putting-acupuncture-research-into-perspective.html
Acupuncture has been shown to have a positive effect in helping to manage symptoms of a wide variety of disorders, and can provide supportive care to existing medical treatment.
Here at the Wholistic Medical Centre, we have a particular interest in women’s health, supporting issues such as hormonal irregularities, fertility, IVF support, stress-related issues, pregnant women who are suffering with pregnancy-related complaints, birth preparation treatment, women suffering from recurrent infections, gut-related issues and more.
If you’re interested to understand how acupuncture and Chinese Medicine could work for you, please contact one of our TCM practitioners.
What to expect at your first appointment
Your acupuncturist will thoroughly assess your condition and make a diagnosis according to TCM principles. Your medical history, family medical history, diet, lifestyle and any medications or supplements you are taking will also be discussed and taken into consideration. They will examine your tongue, take a series of pulses, and may palpate tender points along meridians.
You will then lie down in a comfortable position and very fine acupuncture needles will be inserted at specific points. You may feel a mild dull sensation or a bit of a tingle. Most people find the experience very relaxing. Moxibustion (heat produced by a particular herb), cupping, electro-acupuncture and/or massage may also be used.
How long does it take to treat a condition?
The amount of treatment you need will depend on your condition and how long you’ve had it. Your acupuncturist will be able to estimate the number of treatments you will need once they have observed how your body responds to a few treatments. Generally, acute conditions improve more quickly than chronic conditions that are generally more complex. In some cases Chinese herbal medicine is combined with acupuncture.
All acupuncturists at the Wholistic Medical Centre are registered with AHPRA and, in accordance with the national registration standards of the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia and AHPRA, are obliged to meet standards of safety and efficacy.
Our Acupuncture Practitioners
Rebecca Bau – Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Lohan Qigong - BHSc.TCM (Aust), C.TJM (Japan), M.LQ (Aust/China)
Rebecca integrates Eastern medicine across a broad scope of Western medicine treating people of all ages, using Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine and Lohan Qigong to transform health to well-being.
Tanya Newton – Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine - M.TCM, Cert.TCM (China)
Tanya uses the holistic philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine to support you and restore your health, balance and vitality with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine.