Frequently Asked Questions

How does acupuncture work? Acupuncture in Calgary,  Calgary Acupuncture

How Does Acupuncture Work?


Acupuncture works by inserting hair-thin filiform needles into specific points along meridians to restore balance to the flow of Qi throughout the body, thus bringing the body back into balance and promoting health. Scientific measurements of acupuncture show an increased circulation of blood to the area being treated and an increase in the hormones called endorphins, which block pain and promote healing, strengthen the immune system, and promote blood circulation.

The effect of physiological function and health from Acupuncture follows a holistic medical paradigm to regulate the function of the human body, calm the nervous system, regulate the endocrine system, and increasing resistance by enhancing the immune system.

Acupuncture points have very specific functions: They can improve digestion, increase white or red blood cell production, increase or decrease heart rate and blood pressure, release pain, relaxes tension, increase energy and circulation, just to name a few. When the energy within an organ or an associated pathway is blocked, insufficient or excessive, pain or dysfunction is the result. Stimulating the correct points with the appropriate technique balances the energy flow so that health is restored.

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Is Acupuncture Safe?

Yes. Only sterile, single use disposable needles are used. Complications due to acupuncture are extremely rare and there are virtually no adverse side effects. Over five thousand years of clinical experience have shown acupuncture to be a safe and effective medical treatment. Advise your acupuncturist if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant so that they know to avoid points used to induce labour.

Out of 68,000 recorded treatments in two 2001 surveys in the UK, there were only 14 minor (bruising, feeling nauseous) adverse events. There have been very few reports of serious adverse events, and most adverse effects are transient, lasting no more than a day or so. 

Acupuncture for shoulder pain

Does Acupuncture Have Any Side Effects?

It is quite common especially within the first couple of treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or rarely, mild disorientation immediately following the treatment. These pass within a short time, and never require anything more than a bit of rest to overcome.

Occasionally the original symptoms being treated worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that healing is occurring.

Acupuncture restores the body’s natural, healthy function without side effects. Chinese medicine sees and treats the person as a connected whole, not as isolated symptoms or as a disease. Thus, it does not allow aggressive treatment of one symptom or part of the body while forgetting the effects on the whole person!

What Conditions Can Acupuncture Treat?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine's ability to treat more than 43 common disorders, including some of the following:

  • Gastrointestinal disorders: such as food allergies, peptic ulcer, chronic diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, gastrointestinal weakness, anorexia and gastritis
  • Urogenital disorders: including stress incontinence, urinary tract infections and sexual dysfunction
  • Gynecological disorders: such as irregular, heavy, or painful menstruation, infertility in women and men, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Respiratory disorders: such as emphysema, sinusitis, asthma, allergies and bronchitis
  • Disorders of the bones, muscles, joints and nervous system: such as arthritis, migraine headaches, neuralgia, insomnia, dizziness and low back, neck and shoulder pain
  • Circulatory disorders: such as hypertension, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis and anemia
  • Emotional and psychological disorders: including depression and anxiety
  • Addictions: such as alcohol, nicotine and drugs
  • Eye, ear, nose and throat disorders: such as tinnitus, hearing loss, colds and flu, vision problems, and diseases of the eye

This is a partial list.

Does acupuncture work? Acupuncture in Calgary, acupuncture is very relaxing, to the surprise of many

Do I Have to Believe in Acupuncture For It To Work?

No. Acupuncture is used successfully to treat animals that cannot understand the process or “believe” that it will make them better. Also, I have successfully treated a great many patients who come only at the behest of their significant other and are fully convinced that acupuncture will NOT work for them. I am always delighted to see a closed mind open.

A positive attitude towards wellness may reinforce the effects of the treatment received, just as a negative attitude may hinder the effects of acupuncture or any other treatment. A neutral attitude will not block the treatment results. 

Does acupuncture work? Acupuncture in Calgary, Calgary Acupuncture

Should I continue with my prescribed medication while undergoing a course of acupuncture treatment?

Yes, at least until you have discussed this with your doctor or the practitioner who prescribed the medication. Many people seek the help of an acupuncturist because of dissatisfaction with drug treatment, because it does not seem to be working or because the side effects are unacceptable. DO NOT stop taking any medication without professional guidance. 

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What should I do before an acupuncture treatment?

To receive the greatest benefit from your acupuncture treatment, the following suggestions are important:

- Do not eat a large meal immediately before or after your treatment, but do not come excessively hungry.

- Do not exercise heavily.

- Do not consume alcoholic beverages for six hours before or after your treatment.

Wear loose clothing.

Plan your visits so that after the treatment you can rest and not have to be at peak performance.

Take any prescription medicines as directed by your regular doctor.

Calgary Acupuncturist Christianne Parrott uses both Chinese herbal medicines and acupuncture to treat her patients.

What should I look for in an acupuncturist?

As well as checking that they are registered with a professional body and have appropriate insurance coverage, you may find that your personal rapport with the practitioner is important. It is helpful to find a practitioner with whom you feel comfortable, who understands what you want from treatment, and who can explain clearly what they expect acupuncture treatment might do for you.

What is the history of acupuncture as a complementary and alternative treatment?

The oldest medical book known, written in China 4000 years ago, describes the use of acupuncture to treat medical problems. The use of the treatment spread to other Asian countries and to other regions of the world, including to Europe by the 1700s. In the United States, acupuncture has been used for about 200 years. 

How many treatments are needed and how often?

Frequency and number depend on how long the person’s condition existed before starting acupuncture, whether or not the patient has had long-term drug therapy and/or surgery, and on the overall depth of the problem. Coming for treatment in the beginning stages of illness and having avoided more intrusive methods reduce the length of the treatment period also, patients differ in their responsiveness to acupuncture.

Weekly treatments are the norm and over time the period between each treatment increases; however there are conditions requiring more frequent visits, like severe pain and stroke. Acupuncture therapy has more chance of success when the patient seeks treatment as soon as possible after an illness or injury, follows the course of treatment faithfully, and makes appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes to support the healing process.

To maximize the chance for recovery and prevent problems from becoming chronic, regular treatments should be given until the problem is resolved. Each subsequent treatment should give a better and more prolonged result and the symptoms should gradually disappear as the treatments continue.

How does a TCM practitioner identify and treat disease?

Traditional Chinese Medicine uses an intricate system of pulse and tongue diagnosis, palpation of points and meridians, medical history and other signs and symptoms to create a composite diagnosis. A treatment plan is then formulated to enable the body to achieve a balanced state of health. 

This plan may include one or several of the following:

- Acupuncture
- Traditional Chinese herbal formulas
- Moxibustion
- Cupping
- Tui Na massage
- Diet therapy
- Qi Gong and Meditation practices
- Lifestyle changes and exercise

Many conditions may be alleviated very rapidly by acupuncture and TCM. However, some conditions that have developed over a course of years will be relieved only with slow, steady progress. As in any form of healing, the patient's attitude, diet, determination and lifestyle will affect the outcome of a course of treatment.

Can children receive Acupuncture?

Yes. Generally speaking children do well with acupuncture because their energy is very responsive and they usually have fewer complicating factors. As a result their course of treatment may be shorter and fewer needles required; in infants acupressure and Tui Na are more commonly used.

Dr. Christianne Parrott does not currently treat infants or children but does recommend Dr. Xiao for any pediatric acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.

Can acupuncture help cancer patients?

Acupuncture is used to treat the side effects of traditional treatment: chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Side effects of cancer therapy that acupuncture addresses:

- Pain
- Nausea
- Neuropathy
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue
- Anxiety
- Depression
- Insomnia
- Hot flashes
- Diarrhea
- Constipation
- Recovery from surgery