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The art and science of Acupuncture, which has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is over 3000 years old and is widely used today as a part of that healing system. It treats the Chi or vital energy of the body by stimulating or sedating certain points along the Chi pathways, called “meridians”. Traditionally very fine needles are used; but modern methods may incorporate electric current, lasers, magnets and herbs. These are placed at specific points along the meridians to help the body heal itself.

The Chinese approach considers three types of Chi in determining the person’s balance or wellness:
1: Original Chi – what you are born with
2: Nutritional Chi – what you get from food
3: Air Chi – what you get from breathing

Imbalance = an excess or deficiency of Chi in one or more of these areas.

Assessment includes medical history and present conditions as well as observation of your appearance – face, body build, etc. Three radial pulses on each wrist are taken to determine their quality. A tongue analysis is done, noting shape colour and texture. The back abdomen and meridians may be checked for tension or weakness. This all leads to a final diagnosis that sounds strange to Western ears. For example, you may have “a cold, dampness” in the spleen. However, this is useful and logical information for the practitioner.

Everyone wants to know about those needles! They are very thin and solid – not hollow like a syringe. They are sterile and disposed of after only one use. The person is comfortably lying down when the needles are inserted with a tap and a twirl to “grasp the Chi”. Fifteen or more points may be used to treat a condition. Next important concerns are about pain and blood. It has been described as “less painful as plucking a hair out”, though sensations such as tingling, moving heat or pressure may be felt elsewhere in the body. Ordinarily there is no blood; however, a minimal amount may be purposefully present in certain cases. After the needles are in place, there will be a rest period (approximately 30 to 60 minutes) which is relaxing. One session is not likely to solve a long standing problem. It may take 5 to 10 sessions before improvement is noticed.

Acupuncture provides excellent preventative care as it treats the whole person, promoting health and well-being. It has gained a reputation as a pain-control method which extends to muscular pain and migraines. Because it influences the immune system and stimulates anti-inflammatory agents, common conditions, such as allergies, arthritis and even the flu can be helped.

Kairas Sethna has become an acupuncturist as part of his Chinese Medicine training. He has been treating at the clinic since 2001.