AcupunctureBy Nigel Chua
Acupuncture is a 5000+ years old healing technique that is based on meridian health and healing. It uses very thin cylindrical needles that are inserted into acupuncture points on specific parts of the body to stimulate Qi energy and circulation.
Acupuncture is a very common Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment in Singapore (as well as Asia, particularly China and Japan).
Over time, injury and damage can cause a disruption and disturbance of circulation and the production of Qi and blood, which will lead to eventual disease. By restoring and maintaining a healthy flow and production of Qi and blood in the meridians, disorders can be managed, treated and reversed.
We can visualize each of the acupuncture points as a health gate which sends energy and healing deep into the body.
HOW TCM ACUPUNCTURE WORKS
The basis of acupuncture lies in controlled and specific micro-injury, which helps to
- increase blood flow
- accelerate and facilitate healing
- decrease pain.
Acupuncture points are specific areas that are sensitive to electrical input, so by inserting acupuncture needles at these specific points, it will stimulate sensory receptors that in turn will send impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system in the brain.
This is important because our hypothalamic-pituitary glands control the amount of neurotransmitters and endorphines (which are our body's natural painkillers - much more effective than the strongest painkiller available today which is morphine).
The very same endorphine also plays an important role in our hormonal balance, which is why acupuncture works very well for a range of issues including
- orthopedic conditions like back pain, neck pain, leg pain
- hormonal issues including infertility and women's health issues.
The released substances cause the body to naturally "calm down" and relax; as well as regulating serotonin levels in the brain, which also "calms down" the state of mind. These two things combined brings a lot of calm, relaxed healing to our patients.
Additional physiological benefits include:
- increased circulation
- decreased inflammation
- decreased muscle pains and spasms
- increased T-cell count which supports the immune system.
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF ACUPUNCTURE IN SINGAPORE
There are many applications of acupuncture which include:
- Postoperative, chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting
- Postoperative dental pain
- Acute or chronic lower back pain
- Women's Health: Infertility, gynecology and reproductive disorders.
In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed a number of conditions in which acupuncture has been proven effective:
- High and low blood pressure
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- Gastric conditions, including peptic ulcer
- Painful periods
- Allergic rhinitis
- Facial pain
- Morning sickness
- Tennis elbow
- Reducing the risk of stroke
- Inducing labor.
IS ACUPUNCTURE SAFE?
Acupuncture is fairly non-invasive, and is not habit-forming (i.e. non-addictive - an important note as patients can get addicted to painkillers).
Other than occasional bruising (mild tenderness), little to no side effects have been reported when TCM acupuncture is administered by an experienced and skilled TCM physician. In fact, patients usually report that they
- feel less pain
- feel more calm
- feel more energy.
Acupuncture may help to stimulate natural healing and pain-killing substances that calm the body, as well as inducing natural balancing (homeostasis) that makes patients feel better with little to no pain.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON TCM ACUPUNCTURE
How many acupuncture sessions do I need?
This really depends on the individual, and variables which include
- severity and number of conditions
- nature of the condition.
For some patients this may mean one acupuncture session for an acute problem. For someone with very complex or chronic problems, it can be a series of weeks if not months. Degenerative conditions may require a long time of treatment (months). Fertility treatment may require 2-3 acupuncture sessions a week.
In addition to acupuncture, we may prescribe you TCM herbal medicine to complement the healing process.
Is acupuncture painful?
Acupuncture treatment generally causes little to no pain.
Some patients say that they don't feel anything, and some say that they feel an "ant prick". Some may feel sensations of
- dull ache
- movement of warm fluid or warmness
Typically patients will go into a state of calmness and deep relaxation during and after acupuncture treatment.
What if I'm afraid of needles?
Yes, this is the #1 thing that patients (especially if they're new to acupuncture treatment) always say - that they're scared or fearful of the needles.
We can assure you that these needles are very fine (i.e. small) and are much smaller than the ones used for injections and blood tests. To give you perspective, acupuncture needles are
- 25-50 times smaller than needles for injections and blood tests
- 1-2 times the size of fine human hair.
We want to trigger healing, not cause more pain or damage, so that's why the needles used are very fine and small. At most you should feel a little pressure as the needle pierces the skin, and once the needle is in the acupuncture point or muscle, you shouldn't feel anything at all.
Are the acupuncture needles clean or sterile? How often do you sterilize them?
Please note that we do not re-use our acupuncture needles and hence we don't need to sterilize. We only use
- individually packed
acupuncture needles - this provides the highest level of sterility and non-contamination.
How deep will the acupuncture needles go into my body or hands and feet?
Typically acupuncture points are located close to the skin's surface, but that being said, acupuncture needles can be inserted anything from 0.025 cm depth for limbs and up to 5+ cm for deep structures.
It depends on the
- location of the condition
- condition treated
- size of the patient
- age of the patient
- patient's constitution
- TCM physician training.
How long does each TCM acupuncture session last for?
A session will last between 30-45 minutes, with variables depending on the condition treated and modalities used.
What should I expect during my TCM acupuncture session?
If it's your first time with us - welcome!
Our TCM physician will first assess your general health, then take your current medical/health history and any treatments you've received to date.
They will also need to understand your
- medical history (including your family)
- digestive system
- emotional state and well being
- ability to rest and sleep.
This is to ensure that we can assess, identify and treat the root cause of the disease and health issues, as well as improve your wellness and constitution.
Sometimes we may test organs, limbs or body parts that are not close to the place where you are experiencing the problem (e.g. sometimes with back pain, we may assess and treat the knee and foot also). The reason for this is that there are 365 acupuncture points all over the body, with an unlimited number of non-specific acupuncture points.
Our experienced TCM physician will target a group of these for each session, and these groups may differ from session to session as your condition improves or changes.
Do I need to prepare anything for my TCM acupuncture session?
Come to the session wearing comfortable but loose clothing for your acupuncture treatment. Our TCM physician may need to access acupuncture points on your body, torso, arms and legs, so loose clothing makes treatment easier and much more comfortable.
Do try to come at least 5-10 minutes earlier so that you will not be in a state of rush. A state of calmness and relaxation will allow acupuncture treatment to be more effective.
Please avoid the following for one hour before and after acupuncture:
- being overly full/eating big meal
- fasting more than 6 hours
- alcohol and tobacco
- food and drinks that may change the color of your tongue (such as colored candies or treats)
- rigorous exercises or sexual activities
- wearing anything metallic or strong-smelling (like perfume or cologne).
Can I have TCM treatment or acupuncture when I am unwell?
If you're under a stay home notice (SHN) or quarantine order (QO), or suspect any highly infectious conditions, please do not leave your house until your SHN or QO is over; or if you have obtained medical clearance (this is in light of the recent COVID-19 legislation).
However, if you're feeling a little under the weather, have a mild flu or have generalized ache and pains, please come - that's actually a good time to come because that's when our TCM physician can help heal you with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
What other TCM services do you have other than acupuncture?
We have other TCM services, including:
- TCM Electro-Acupuncture
- TCM Cupping
- TCM Guasha (scraping)
- TCM Auricular Therapy.
Does acupuncture have side effects?
In some rare instances, patients may experience a little mild bruising where the acupuncture needles were inserted.
If you experience any large bruises, sharp pain, swelling, difficulty breathing or dizziness after TCM acupuncture - please inform your TCM physician immediately and seek medical treatment immediately as well.
How will I feel after acupuncture?
As acupuncture treatment is restorative and releases substances that relax and heal, typically most patients feel calm and relaxed with quiet energy.
Some patients may experience tiredness or drowsiness for a few hours if their calm/relaxed experience is very strong. In some instances there is immediate pain relief; in others the benefits and effects of acupuncture manifest a few days later. Some patients may experience a mild flare-up of their condition for a few hours or days.
We usually recommend that patients relax and not participate in rigorous activities after TCM and acupuncture. A gentle walk in the park is good and helpful, but do try to avoid
- large meals
- rigorous exercise