Ah, yes. I remember the first time I went for acupuncture:
You’re going to put needles where?
What is it going to feel like?
What exactly is this going to do?
These were all questions I really wanted an answer to before my acupuncturist started poking around. And if you have the same questions, they are totally legitimate! You can read about how acupuncture has helped me personally on my info page but I wanted to share with you a ‘Cole’s Notes’ version of what acupuncture is and importantly, how to ensure you are in good hands with a knowledgeable Acupuncturist.
So, what exactly is acupuncture? Acupuncture is a part of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). It is an ancient (and by ancient I mean 5,000 + years old) oriental medical science and healing art. Like all TCM, acupuncture is based on Yin and Yang which means opposite but complimentary. The idea is that your body has energy lines called meridians running head to toe. Energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) can become stagnant or deficient due to a variety of reasons. When either stagnation or a deficiency occurs, you get sick, or just feel out of balance. This can impact you physically, mentally and emotionally. Acupuncture views the body as a holistic organism with mind body and spirit very much connected so if one thing is out, it can impact other areas (Yin and Yang!). By inserting tiny needles into specific acupuncture points, the energy is stimulated in that area to heal or re-balance. It’s not as easy as just sticking needles in anywhere. Your body has 365 points but the cool thing is your acupuncturist will be able to tell not only from your symptoms but also from your pulse and tongue (a post for another day, I promise!) what is out of balance and where the acupuncture needles should go. I’ve laid it out in more detail on the what is acupuncture page on my site but that is the basic gist.
Now – on to choosing an Acupuncturist. Acupuncture is a registered profession in Alberta. Please do not go to anyone who is not registered. A Registered Acupuncturist (look for the letters R.Ac. beside their name) will have at least three years of post-secondary under their belt and will have successfully passed three Pan-Canadian and two Provincial examinations. It is important to note that not all medical professionals who practice acupuncture/dry needling are Registered Acupuncturists. The Acupuncture Program at MacEwan University, where I graduated, is 2070 hours overall, with 630 clinical hours. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential acupuncturist for qualifications! Also, healing is really personal so you want to feel comfortable and safe with your acupuncturist. You can ask to meet for a consultation before making an appointment.
I’ll end with a fun video of Oprah trying acupuncture for the first time. She has lots of questions!