Acupuncture FAQ


  • What can I expect at my Initial Acupuncture appointment?

Your acupuncturist is going to ask you many questions about your health and lifestyle.  These questions can be about your diet, exercise, what type of actions are involved in your work, the qualities of your digestion and elimination, your mood and emotions,the locations and qualities of your bodily aches and pains, menstrual details, and about substance intake (caffeinated beverages, smoking, medications, sugar).  The acupuncturist will examine the topography, colours, and shape of your tongue, will examine your complexion, eyes, fingernails, check your radial pulse (located on the inner wrists), and might palpate areas of the body.  The inspection of the tongue, body, pulse, and the details gathered from questioning will help her to gather these details/symptoms into patterns.  These patterns will then be used to determine the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) diagnosis which will then let her know how to treat and advise you.

Your treatment is a collaborative effort between you and your acupuncturist.  You have the ability and the right to consent to any and all aspects of the intake and treatment process.  This includes the right to refuse consent to any modality, to not be touched or treated in certain areas.  Your acupuncturist will check in with you throughout the treatment to make sure you are comfortable, feel safe, and heard, as well as, determine if a point is bothering you and if the the “Qi has arrived (de Qi).”

With the insertion and manipulation of acupuncture needles, some points might be “strong” and others might be “mild” or you might not really feel anything.  This is dependent on what is happening inside your mind and body, where the acupuncture point is located anatomically, and on what your acupuncturist is trying to affect.  Common “Arrival of Qi, de Qi” sensations experienced  at and around the acu-point range from a warm or cooling sensation, tingling, an electric zip or zing of varying strength, a heaviness, a tickle, the sensation of molasses moving, waves, of very subtle shifts.  It can also be common to experience an itchy sensation during or after treatment as Qi and blood move into and flow through the area.

Note: It is important to let your acupuncturist know if you have a bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia, or are on blood thinners such as aspirin or Coumarin (warfarin) to help prevent blood clots.

  • If I don’t want to have any needles, can I still get a treatment?

Absolutely!  With your consent, your acupuncturist can choose to do acupressure using her fingers and thumbs or can apply magnetic pellets (“seeds”) to stimulate acupuncture points.  In fact, you can also ask your acupuncturist to perform TuiNa, an ancient form of Traditional Chinese massage (or Shiatsu the Japanese version derived from the same root as TuiNa), Cupping, or Gua Sha.

  • Is acupuncture covered by my insurance?

Acupuncture is covered by an increasing number of insurance providers.  Please speak to our receptionist or to your insurance provider to find out if your provider covers all or part of your acupuncture treatment.

  • What is Cupping and Gua Sha and what do they do?

Cupping utilizes suction to break up connective tissue adhesions and scar tissue, it promotes  tissue perfusion, reduces inflammation, decreases tension and stiffness, and thus helps with blood circulation, sore, achey, and spasming muscles, and quickens the healing process.  From both a Western Medical and a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, cupping promotes circulation and thus breaks up stagnation (of Qi and Blood) and promotes relaxation.  The Flash Cupping method is also useful in the loosening of chest congestion and phlegm for removal from the body.  This loosening of chest congestion is thus immensely helpful for treating asthma, bronchitis, chest colds and flus and for bringing some relief for emphysema.  Cupping can also be applied to the abdomen to promote bowel movements and assist with digestion.

Cupping has become more popular in the West and its popularity has risen with its distinct circular marks.  These distinct marks have been seen on the likes of Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Michael Phelps, Rio Olympic gymnast Alex Naddour to help them with their sore challenged muscles allowing them to recover faster and be at the ready to compete.  The marks have also graced the backs and torsos of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Justin Beiber, as well as on the arms of our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Cupping has been utilized for thousands of years in the Middle East, East Asia, and Ancient Egypt.  Traditionally, cupping involved the use of a flame inserted quickly into a glass, bamboo, ceramic, or animal horn cup to remove the oxygen and create a vacuum.  Modern cupping can also be achieved with plastic cups and a hand pump or with flexible silicone cups. When applied speedily to the skin, the underlying tissue layers are drawn up into the cup which results in enlargement of the tiny blood vessels; this enlargement promotes the flow of fresh blood  and lymph into the area.  However, this enlargement of the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) can also lead to some extraversion (leakage) which is visible as redness and bruising.  Depending on your body, the quickness with which it heals, and how deeply seated the stagnation is, the redness, bruising and/or suction marks (that look like you have been hugged by an octopus) can disappear by the end of the treatment or last up to ten days.  On average, most cupping marks and bruising will disappear in 3-4 days.  The only other side effect is mild to moderate temporary temporary discomfort as stagnation is dissipated and the underlying tissues opened up.

Cupping is not recommended over herniations thus if you have a herniated spinal disc, do not forget to tell your acupuncturist, so she can avoid the area.  Also, cupping may not be the best option for clients with bleeding disorders or who are on anti-coagulants like warfarin or aspirin.  In this case, let your acupuncturist know if you are on anti-coagulants or are a hemophiliac; cupping can be applied with lighter suction or applied to larger muscle groups .

Note: After receiving a cupping treatment, be sure to cover the area(s) treated and avoid exposing them to wind, fans, and breezes.  In fact, it is advised to sleep under bed covers and if cups were applied to the shoulders, upper back, or upper torso, to sleep wearing a t-shirt.

Gua Sha, also known as Press-scraping, Spooning, or simply as Scraping, is defined by Gua Sha specialist Arya Neilson as “…instrument-assisted unidirectional press-stroking of a lubricated area of the body surface to intentionally create transitory therapeutic petechiae called ‘sha’ representing extravasation of blood in the subcutis.”  In other words your acupuncturist will apply massage oil to the area to be treated and then press down into and across the skin and underlying tissues to promote tissue perfusion (circulation: delivery of nutrients like Oxygen and removal of cellular waste like Carbon Dioxide) and break up stagnation.  Dr. Nielsen states, “Modern research shows the transitory therapeutic petechiae produce an anti inflammatory and immune protective effect that persists for days following a single Gua sha treatment accounting for the immediate relief that patients feel from pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, wheeze, nausea and vomiting etc, and why Gua sha is effective in acute and chronic internal organ disorders including liver inflammation in hepatitis.”

  • What conditions do acupuncturists treat?

Acupuncture has a wide array of issues that it can address.  It is very effective for pain relief, helping athletes recover after strenuous competitions, tight muscles and fascia.  It also relieves tooth aches and jaw pain, stops teeth grinding, and relieves headaches and migraines.  Acupuncture can promote parasympathetic nervous system mode for “resting and digesting” versus the exhausting sympathetic “fight or flight” mode thus it is effective at relieving stress and anxiety, as well as at promoting a sense of security and well-being.

Acupuncture can alleviate dysmennorrhea and pre-menstrual syndrome symptoms, increase fertility and sperm counts, prepare the womb for the conception of a child, assist in maintaining a pregnancy, turn a breech baby, assist in promoting labour, and it promotes a quicker recovery from birthing a child (including Post-pardum Depression).  Acupuncture also is great at promoting bowel movements to overcome constipation and can stop diarrhea, helps with insomnia, and can improve circulation which is helpful in the treatment of Reynaud’s Disease.  Acupuncture can help build the immune system to help fight off and move through the common cold and influenza faster, balance out the endocrine system,

Along with dietary and lifestyle changes, acupuncture can control and even clear up acid reflux, gas and bloating, drooping eyelids and prolapsed organs. It helps with the lowering and management of high blood pressure and it can help manage .  Cosmetically, it can be used to lighten the complexion, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, reduce dark circles, lift the jowels, reduce acne and surgical scars, and lift drooping areas due to Bell’s Palsy.

Acupuncture can improve the quality of life for people suffering from Gout, Thyroid Disease, Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis, spinal disc and inguinal hernias, asthma and other C.O.P.D..  It can also improve the quality of life for people struggling with Diabetes, Ulcerative Colitis, those recovering from Myocardial Infarctions (heart attacks), Cerebrovascular Accidents (stroke), and Transient Ischemic Accidents (mini strokes), Malaria, Trigeminal Neuralgia, and Epilepsy.   Acupuncture, especially through the use of Plum Blossom,7-star needles, can help promote some hair growth to reduce male-pattern and female-pattern baldness and alopecia aerata.

Note: Acupuncture is not magic and is gentler medicine than Allopathic Western Medicine.  In many cases for many issues, results can be immediate, take 2-3 treatments, or take a round of 5-10 treatments.  In other cases, especially for those which involve damage to tissues and have taken years to decades to occur, it may take several rounds of acupuncture treatments to get good lasting results or it may take regular on-going treatments to help improve quality of life and manage more serious disease states.

  • Is Acupuncture safe? (blood thinners, pregnancy, contaminations, single use, infection…..)

Yes, acupuncture is safe and has almost no side effects.

  • Can children have acupuncture?

Yes, acupuncture is not contraindicated for children or infants.  Since children and infants can be quite mobile, needles are not retained for very long.  In fact, infants are simply pricked to stimulate the point and immediately removed.  Acupressure, Tui Na, and other modalities can be utilized in place of sub-dermal needles.  There is also the option to use tiny dermal needles that are applied and retained with an adhesive strip.  These dermal needles are more like a tiny tack on a bandaid.

  • What does my therapist learn from looking at my tongue?

Your acupuncturist will inspect the shape, colour, coating, and topography(cracks, bumps, out pouching, and depressions) of the tongue.  These aspects will alert her to the condition of your blood and Qi circulation, to the condition of the internal organs, and to the relative balance of certain vital substances (Blood, Yin, Qi, Yang).  The root of the tongue corresponds to the Kidneys, Urinary Bladder, Intestines, and genitals.  The middle of the tongue corresponds to the digestive organs of the Stomach and Spleen/Pancreas and the margins correspond to the Liver and Gallbladder.  The tip and near tip correspond to the Lungs and Heart.

  • Why does my Reg. Acu use terms like “wind”, “dampness”, and “blood stasis”?
  • Is acupuncture covered by my insurance?

Acupuncture is covered by an increasing number of insurance providers.  Please speak to our receptionist or to your insurance provider to find out if your provider covers all or part of your acupuncture treatment.