acupuncture needle

Acupuncture

pic showing benefits of acupuncture treatment by naturopath

Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine (not much thicker than a hair) needles into specific acupuncture points that are located along meridians or channels that connect to the various organs in Chinese medicine.  The thinking is that by needling these specific points you can influence the flow of qi (pronounced chee) or energy that flows to the organs and improves organ function.  Western medicine research has discovered that it can alter production of various brain chemicals including neurotransmitters, endorphins, encephalins, painkillers, mood enhancers, natural anti-inflammatories etc.  The meridians and points are also often in close proximity to blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatic channels or specific organs.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

Absolutely if it is practised by a qualified, competent practitioner.  Having practised this natural treatment for 18+ years, I have found that the worst that happens is mild bruising in some patients and sometimes a lasting sensation where the needle had been for up to a day afterwards.  The acupuncture needles we use are sterile and disposable so there is no risk of infection.

Does it Hurt?

Because the needles are not much thicker than a hair, there is a very little sensation when they enter the skin, sometimes a teeny pinprick.  As the needle reaches its destination you may feel a tingly sensation, electrical sensation or deep pressure sensation, but generally not much more than that and whatever sensation is felt usually subsides within a minute or two of the needle insertion.  After that you may be aware the needle is there but not really feel much of anything from it.

What is an Acupuncture Treatment Like?

In total, a treatment takes about 35-40 minutes.  I start by marking where the needles will go by pressing on your skin, then cleaning that spot with alcohol and inserting the needle.  Once they are all in place they stay in for about 20 minutes and are then removed and discarded.  Each treatment consists of anywhere from about 8-18 needles.  Afterwards, most people report either feeling energized or relaxed.

How Can It Help Infertility?

Studies have shown acupuncture to be helpful in regulating the function of the ovaries in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). There is evidence that it helps in pain relief for egg retrieval, improving pregnancy outcomes of in vitro fertilization(IVF) treatment, reducing ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, management of ovulation disorders, male subfertility, primary dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, and menopausal symptoms.  From a Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) standpoint you are improving the function of the organs by improving the flow of energy to and from the organ.  From a Western medicine point of view, you are increasing immune system activity in and around the reproductive organs to promote healing and optimal function.  You are also directly stimulating nerve endings that lead to the organ to stimulate the brain to increase cytokines and neurotransmitters that increase repair activity.

As a naturopathic doctor, I integrate this treatment along with my other healing methods including diet and nutrition, natural supplements, herbs, lifestyle counselling and stress reduction for the maximum impact on reversing infertility and helping women carry healthy pregnancies to term and produce healthy babies.

Book an appointment here or call the office for more information at 416-481-0222.

by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

Acupuncture Research

This is just a sampling of the research supporting the use of acupuncture:

For Infertility

Acupuncture as a treatment for infertility shows great results both in man and women. Acupuncture can be considered as successful treatment in restoring fertility in the patients, by improving the sperm quality and ovaries function and balancing the endocrine system and hormones.

Source: Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2018 Sep 19;6(9):1685-1687. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2018.379. eCollection 2018 Sep 25. Acupuncture Treatment for Fertility. Zhu J1, Arsovska B1,2, Kozovska K1.

For PMS

The limited evidence available suggests that acupuncture and acupressure may improve both physical and psychological symptoms of PMS when compared to a sham control.

Source: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Aug 14;8:CD005290. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005290.pub2.
Acupuncture and acupressure for premenstrual syndrome.
Armour M1, Ee CC, Hao J, Wilson TM, Yao SS, Smith CA.

For Low Ovarian Reserve

Acupuncture with regulating menstruation to promote pregnancy can safely improve the ovarian reserve of patients with diminished ovarian reserve.

Source: Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2017 Oct 12;37(10):1061-5. doi: 10.13703/j.0255-2930.2017.10.009.
Acupuncture with regulating menstruation to promote pregnancy for diminished ovarian reverse: a prospective case series study. Li X1, Xu H2, Fang Y2, Shang J1, Yang H1, Zhou X1, Zhang M1.

Auricular Acupuncture for Pain

The use of the standard auricular acupuncture protocol in the treatment group led to significant within- and between-group reduced pain severity and interference scores, compared to the control group.

Source: Med Acupunct. 2018 Oct 1;30(5):262-272. doi: 10.1089/acu.2018.1294. Epub 2018 Oct 15.
Auricular Acupuncture for Chronic Pain and Insomnia: A Randomized Clinical Trial.
Garner BK1, Hopkinson SG2, Ketz AK1, Landis CA3, Trego LL4.

For Chronic Pain

This research found that it is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is, therefore, a reasonable referral option. There were significant differences between true and sham treatments indicating that it is more than just a placebo.

Source: Arch Intern Med. 2012 Oct 22;172(19):1444-53. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3654.
Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis.
Vickers AJ1, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, Lewith G, MacPherson H, Foster NE, Sherman KJ, Witt CM, Linde K; Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration.