What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve function. This is done by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points. Acupuncture points (also referred to as ‘acupoints’) are places on the skin that have a lower resistance to the passage of electricity than the surrounding skin and are part of a network of points that were mapped centuries ago by the Chinese. Most are found along ‘meridians’ or ‘channels’ that are believed to be the pathways by which energy or Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) flows through the body.

Acupuncture originated in China at least 2500 years ago and spread to neighbouring Asian countries including Japan, Vietnam, and Korea by about 500 CE, and finally to Europe in the 16th century.

In spite of its spread to Europe so long ago, most North Americans were unaware of acupuncture until President Richard Nixon made his famous trip to China in 1971. James Reston of the New York Times, a reporter on Nixon’s trip, had the misfortune to develop appendicitis while there. After the surgery he developed ‘paralytic ileus’, meaning that his small bowel stopped functioning and he became bloated with gas. Instead of putting a tube down through his nose to let the gas escape from his stomach, an acupuncture needle was inserted, possibly in his leg. Reston passed his gas and the rest is history. The whole world heard about this amazing phenomenon and before long westerners were being shown operations done without anaesthetic. With a few acupuncture needles in place, the pain of surgery was tolerable and patients were sometimes able to get off the operating table and walk away.

How Does it Work?

The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others.

The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.

The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system.

The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.

Is Medical Acupuncture Different from the Ordinary Kind?

Acupuncture is a very old medical art, and there are many approaches to learning and practicing it. Medical acupuncture is the term used to describe acupuncture performed by a doctor trained in Western medicine who has also had thorough training in evidenced based acupuncture.  Medical Acupuncture, Contemporary Acupuncture or evidence based Acupuncture share mutual ideology that such modality is used with scientific rationale.  Dr. Levy completed 2 Acupuncture programs that are recommended by the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture . (Specifically Acupuncture Foundation of Canada, and McMaster University Medical Acupuncture for Professionals.)

What is the Scope of Medical Acupuncture?

Medical acupuncture is a system which can influence three areas of health care:

  • promotion of health and well-being,
  • prevention of illness,
  • treatment of various medical conditions.

While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as the support or adjunct to other medial treatment forms in many medical and surgical disorders.The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems, including:

  • Digestive disorders: gastritis and hyperacidity, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea.
  • Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, recurrent chest infections.
  • Neurological and muscular disorders: headaches, facial tics, neck pain, rib neuritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms of tendinitis, low back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis.
  • Urinary, menstrual, and reproductive problems.

Is Acupuncture covered under Insurance ?

In Ontario, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are currently regulated under the College of TCM and Acupuncturists of Ontario.  However, many insurance companies will cover Acupuncture services, as long as the service provider is a regulated health care professional.  Dr. Levy is certified by the Acupuncture Council of Ontario, successfully completed both written and practical examinations. Acupuncture services are under the scope of practice of Naturopathic Medicine and Chiropractic Medicine in Ontario.  Dr. Levy is in good standing with the College of Chiropractors of Ontario, as well as with the College of Naturopaths of Ontario.

For More information about Medical Acupuncture