Self Care Sunday - Acupuncture

This week for Self Care Sunday we are talking about acupuncture. A little while back Andrea Wingrave from Acupuncture Edmonton and I put together THIS post, all about acupuncture and what it is.  I thought what a wonderful self care idea. Getting some acupuncture. 

Luckily most benefits cover acupuncture these days up to $500 or $1000 so in reality you aren't out anything if it isn't your thing. But really, it's going to be. 

The needles are sterile one time use needles. I know this is something people have expressed concerned about when I tell them about acupuncture. I was also worried I wouldn't be able to donate blood anymore, but turns out if they are sterile singe use then you still can. (Bonus!)

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At first it seems a little intimidating thinking about the needles going in and/or staying in. But really after they go in and some minor adjusting to your comfort, you don't even feel them.

But here is the best part people..... you get a 30 minute nap. Yeah, the needles go in, adjust as needed and then you get 30 minutes all to yourself to relax on a soft comfy bed and have a heat lamp on your feet. Oh that glorious heat lamp. I need one for home. 

Now whether or not you are sure if you "believe" in acupuncture working or not, the relaxing time spent in the room and you taking time for yourself is a huge step toward tapping into that parasympathetic (rest and digestion) cycle of the body. This is truly self care. Calming down, unwinding and finding time for yourself. 

Oh and before I forget.... you get a head massage at the end.... *drooooool*

So a few tips for heading to the acupuncturist. 

  • Maybe find a referral from a friend. I love friends that tell me about professionals they love and why, that way I sort of know what to expect. 
  • Wear loose fitting clothing. That way pant legs can be rolled up if access is needed to the knees etc. 
  • They will have music but honestly I think this relaxation time would pair perfectly with a mediation podcast or yoga nidra recording on youtube. 
  • Turn off your phone. Not on vibrate, You don't want to hear buzzing and crap as you are trying to relax. 
  • I highly recommend booking an appointment in the evening so you can go to sleep after!

Have you ever seen an acupuncturist? Whats your favourite part?

Love, 

Jen the Bitchin' Housewife

Acupuncture and What You Need To Know

Have you ever wondered about acupuncture? I mean maybe you know a little bit about it, like the fact it's people sticking tiny needles in you and what you've seen in movies or from friends. I've heard acupuncture work for so many people I just had to know all about it. What is it exactly and why it works. So I sat down with Andrea Wingrave from Acupuncture Edmonton to learn all about it. 

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) modality that involves the insertion of hair-thin needles into specific points on the body. These points lie on meridians or pathways along which the body’s life-giving energy called Qi (pronounced “Chee”) circulates.  Disease is caused by an imbalance of the normal flow of Qi through these meridians, whether there is too much, too little or it is blocked from flowing altogether.  When the points are stimulated, the Qi flow regains its proper balance and the body begins to heal itself.

How does it work?

Acupuncture is based on the TCM theory that our vital energy (Qi) circulates in our body along defined paths or meridians. When this flow of Qi is out of balance due to trauma/injury, poor lifestyle, stress or improper diet, acupuncture helps restore the flow and allows your body to heal itself.  Modern science tells us that acupuncture stimulates certain areas of the brain, triggering: hormone production and secretion; inflammation reduction; blood circulation; pain reduction; appetite supression, etc.  There is so much more to learn in this area, you can read more here:

Does it help with stress?

Acupuncture stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is induces a "rest-and-digest" state (the true opposite of the fight-or-flight state).  Patients usually feel very relaxed during and after their treatments.  Some fall asleep with the needles in, others report having a very good night's sleep on treatment days

What are some conditions you see typically or can treat?

  • Headache and Migraine
  • Trigeminal Neuralgias
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Sciatica
  • Jaw Pain
  • Chronic and Acute Low Back Pain
  • Neck and shoulder Pain
  • Hip Pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Knee Pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Sports Injuries and Pains
  • Constipation/Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Gastritis
  • Nausea
  • Sinusitis/Rhinitis
  • Common Cold and Flu
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Premenstrual Syndrome
  • Dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps)
  • Spotting and Excessive Menstrual Bleeding
  • Amenorrhea (Loss of Menstrual Period)
  • Pregnancy Support
  • Impotence
  • Infertility
  • Incontinence
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • MS symptoms
  • Gout

Is acupuncture safe? Will it interfere with current medications?

Acupuncture is completely safe when administered by a Registered Acupuncturist. Acupuncturists are required to use only single-use needles which are disposed of after use. Any mild side effects such as bruising or dizziness is self correcting. Tell your acupuncturist about all the medications and supplements you are taking.  In some cases acupuncture can make your medication work better and/or lessen the side-effects caused by these drugs.   If you have a severe medical condition, or if you're not sure, always talk to your doctor before seeing any paramedical practitioner.

What to expect?

During your first visit I will ask you to sit and chat about your health history; I will ask you additional questions about your ailment(s), general health and lifestyle. You will be asked to show your tongue and I will take your pulse to complete my TCM diagnosis.

Next you will be asked to position yourself on a massage-type table either facing up or down or on your side depending on where the needles will be placed.  While you get settled I will leave the room to wash my hands.

To begin the treatment each point will be swabbed with alcohol then each needle is inserted to the correct depth. The needles used to stimulate acupuncture points are very slender; only the finest quality solid stainless steel, pre-sterilized, single-use, disposable needles are used. They are inserted beneath the skin’s surface into the muscle to a depth appropriate for each point. The sensation from the needle varies – you may feel nothing or you may feel heaviness, a mildly dull ache, a nervy sensation or tingle.

Once all of the needles are in place, you will be left to relax for several minutes (approximately 30). Many people fall asleep during this time since the treatment puts the body into a relaxed state.  When the treatment time has elapsed, the needles will be removed and any other complimentary therapies will be administered as needed. 

Will it hurt?

Getting acupuncture from a Registered Acupuncturist who uses TCM shouldn't hurt.  The odd time, you may feel a tiny poke which means the needle has come in contact with a very small blood vessel. Let your acupuncturist know and a simple re-direction of the needle will rectify this.

What is the cost?

When you see a registered acupuncturist, your first appointment will include a complete assessment during which you discuss your health history and your current complaint(s). This is followed by a full 1 hour treatment.  The initial appointment costs around $100.  Follow up treatments (typically 1 hour) usually cost between $60-80. Some clinics are set up to directly bill your insurance company on your behalf.  Most medium and large sized companies offer health benefits that include between $500 and $1000 that can be spent on acupuncture treatments.

Do you use other modalities other than acupuncture?

Depending on the condition being treated, electro-acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, basic massage, and/or diet therapy may be used.

Tonight I'm heading over to Acupuncture Edmonton for a treatment. I'll be tweeting my experience, but come back next week for a full blog post on how it went!

If you'd like more info on Andrea and her clinic you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram  and her website

Love, 

Jen