YOUR HEALTH: Acupuncture questions answered

Dr. Brigitte Tetrault


Of all traditional Chinese Medicine therapies, acupuncture is far and away the most popular. And why not?

It’s an effective, natural, safe and drug-free therapy that’s beneficial to many conditions.

As conventional Western medicine practitioners increasingly incorporate acupuncture into their practices and its status is increasing. However, acupuncture is still a mystery to many people. Here are some of the questions I’m frequently asked:

  • Does it hurt?

Undoubtedly the most common question, the answer is no. Unlike hypodermic needles used for injections, acupuncture needles are solid and whisker-thin, so actual insertion is painless. When a practitioner brings the needle to the appropriate depth, patients may feel a slight tingling or “heavy” sensation.

  • How does it work?

Inserting needles at specific locations (neural nodes) stimulates the peripheral and central nervous systems. This triggers a release of internal chemicals, resulting in relief and restoration of your body’s self-regulating processes.

  • What conditions does acupuncture treat?

Contrary to common misconception, acupuncture isn’t just for pain relief. Equally effective with acute and chronic issues, acupuncture has been proven effective for myriad conditions, from allergies and anxiety to migraines and sinus infections. Your best bet is to ask a practitioner if acupuncture can help with your condition.

  • Are there side effects?

No, although some patients may experience the occasional bruise.

  • How often should I get treatment?

Depending on the severity of your condition, visits are typically twice a week for three to four weeks, then weekly as required.

  • How should I prepare for treatment?

Eat a light meal before your appointment so your body has energy to work with. Make sure you allow time to relax afterward, and remember to keep hydrated.

Whether used on its own or combined with Chinese herbal medicine or another complementary therapy, acupuncture can help people of all ages achieve a better quality of life.

Dr. Brigitte Tetrault is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncturist at Courtenay Healing Centre. She can be reached at 250-338-2866 or

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