Brookefield Hospital
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old healing technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 1997, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) documented and publicized acupuncture’s safety and efficacy for treating a wide range of conditions. Acupuncture is now covered by many insurance policies and is used most broadly to relieve pain.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture improves the body’s functions and promotes the natural self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites--commonly referred to as acupuncture points, or acupoints. The most common method used to stimulate acupoints is the insertion of fine, sterile needles into the skin. Pressure, heat, or electrical stimulation may further enhance the effects. Other acupoint stimulation techniques include: manual massage, moxibustion or heat therapy, cupping, and the application of topical herbal medicines and linaments.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on an ancient philosophy that describes the universe, and the body, in terms of two opposing forces: yin and yang. When these forces are in balance, the body is healthy. Energy, called "qi" (pronounced "chee") flows along specific pathways, called meridians, throughout the body. This constant flow of energy keeps the yin and yang forces balanced. However, if the flow of energy gets blocked, like water getting stuck behind a dam, the disruption can lead to pain, lack of function, or illness. Acupuncture therapy can release blocked qi in the body and stimulate function, evoking the body’s natural healing response through various physiological systems. Modern research has demonstrated acupuncture’s effects on the nervous system, endocrine and immune systems, cardiovascular system, and digestive system. By stimulating the body’s various systems, acupuncture can help to resolve pain, and improve sleep, digestive function, and sense of well-being.
What happens during an acupuncture treatment?
First, your acupuncturist will ask about your health history. Then, he or she will examine your tongue’s shape, color, and coating, feel your pulse, and possibly perform some additional physical examinations depending on your individual health needs. Using these unique assessment tools, the acupuncturist will be able to recommend a proper treatment plan to address your particular condition. To begin the acupuncture treatment, you lay comfortably on a treatment table while precise acupoints are stimulated on various areas of your body. Most people feel no or minimal discomfort as the fine needles are gently placed. The needles are usually retained between five and 30 minutes. During and after treatments, people report that they feel very relaxed.
What conditions are commonly treated by acupuncture?
Hundreds of clinical studies on the benefits of acupuncture show that it successfully treats conditions ranging from musculoskeletal problems (back pain, neck pain, and others) to nausea, migraine headache, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and infertility.
Case-controlled clinical studies have shown that acupuncture has been an effective treatment for the following diseases, symptoms or conditions:
Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever) Low back pain
Biliary colic Malposition of fetus, correction
Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke) Morning sickness
Dysentery, acute bacillary Nausea and vomiting
Dysmenorrhoea, primary Neck pain
Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm) Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders) Periarthritis of shoulder
Headache Postoperative pain
Hypertension, essential Renal colic
Hypotension, primary Rheumatoid arthritis
Induction of labor Sciatica
Knee pain Sprain
Leukopenia Stroke
Tennis elbow
The following diseases, symptoms or conditions have limited but probable evidence to support the therapeutic use of acupuncture:
Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm) Neurodermatitis
Acne vulgaris Obesity
Alcohol dependence and detoxification Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
Bell’s palsy Osteoarthritis
Bronchial asthma Pain due to endoscopic examination
Cancer pain Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
Cardiac neurosis Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome)
Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation Post-extubation in children
Cholelithiasis Postoperative convalescence
Competition stress syndrome Premenstrual syndrome
Craniocerebral injury, closed Prostatitis, chronic
Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent Pruritus
Earache Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
Epidemic haemorrhagic fever Raynaud syndrome, primary
Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease) Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Female infertility Retention of urine, traumatic
Facial spasm Schizophrenia
Female urethral syndrome Sialism, drug-induced (excessive salivation)
Fibromyalgia and fasciitis Sjogren syndrome
Gastrokinetic disturbance Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
Gouty arthritis Spine pain, acute
Hepatitis B virus carrier status Stiff neck
Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3) Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
Hyperlipaemia Tietze syndrome
Hypo-ovarianism Tobacco dependence
Insomnia Tourette syndrome
Labour pain Ulcerative colitis, chronic
Lactation, deficiency Urolithiasis
Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic Vascular dementia
Ménière disease Whooping cough (pertussis)
Neuralgia, post-herpetic