What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the practice of inserting tiny needles at specific points on the body to treat illness or promote health and well-being. Oriental medical theory describes a network of energy pathways in the body (meridians) that can be accessed on the surface at the acupuncture points. The points to be used in a session are chosen by the practitioner based on traditional theories outlined in texts that are at least 2000 years old. However, these days point selection is also based on modern research studies.
What if I find the concept of needles a bit daunting?
Tara uses predominantly Japanese-style acupuncture, which is renowned for its gentle techniques and extremely thin needles (roughly the width of a human hair). She finds this ideal for sensitive patients, and generally just as effective as stronger approaches! Another option that may be suitable is to use a special implement to rub or press the acupoints so that no needles are inserted.
Palpation is at the heart of the Japanese acupuncture approach – if you feel carefully for active points (rather than going only on a strictly textbook location), you can use much lighter needling with finer needles. Japanese acupuncture also focuses on understanding the patient’s constitution (the underlying pattern we fit into that predicts what sort of illnesses we are likely to develop) and on building up energy where there is any deficit before doing stronger work that could otherwise be draining.
What happens in an acupuncture session?
Acupuncture treatments with Tara typically last one hour for an initial appointment, then 45 minutes for follow-up sessions. During the initial session, you will be able to discuss what’s troubling you in depth. After a thorough history, Tara assesses the body as a whole (through palpation of the acupuncture meridians (channels) and examination of the pulse and tongue) as well as specific areas of the body that are giving you trouble. The acupuncture treatment consists of very gentle insertion of super-fine needles at acupuncture points. All needles used are sterile and disposable. Needling is often reinforced by moxibustion – the use of a refined herb (moxa, also known as artemisia vulgaris, or mugwort) on the acupoints. When needed, Tara uses massage, cupping, and Chinese herbal medicine to complement the acupuncture treatment. Of course, lifestyle also plays a large part in many conditions, and tweaking this can bring great benefits as well -- so this is another area that may be addressed during sessions.
Most people find Japanese acupuncture sessions extremely relaxing – the feeling is similar to after you’ve had a good massage.
Can kids have acupuncture?
Infants are usually treated by the Shonishin approach, which uses a combination of massage and rubbing/tapping of a special implement on the acupuncture points (needles are not generally inserted). This is usually done with bub sitting on Mum or Dad’s lap. Older children usually have a mixture of Shonishin and needling – they generally take very well to it because the needles are so fine.
How soon will I see a response?
Typically, we see a response in 4-6 sessions, often sooner. The aim is then to decrease the frequency of treatments, as the body’s own healing systems take over. Once the issue has been resolved, it is advisable to come in for maintenance treatment every 3 or 4 months, depending on the issue. What we are really trying to do with acupuncture is move the body towards homeostasis (balance). The body has an intrinsic ability to heal itself, and we want to activate this process; to nudge the body in the right direction. Japanese acupuncture is the perfect method to bring your body into better balance.