What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of acupuncture?

If you are like most people, you probably associate acupuncture with needles and pain relief. True, acupuncture is extremely effective in treating pain. But that is only the beginning of what this medicine is capable of. It is also commonly used for the following conditions:

-Allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems
-Gastrointestinal issues
-Gynecological problems like infertility and PMS
-Depression, anxiety, insomnia and stress
-And many more physical, emotional and neurological issues

How can one form of medicine treat all of these very different issues? In Chinese medicine, all illness and injuries stem from one basic cause: a dysfunction of qi (pronounced “chee”). This qi is the vital force that courses throughout our bodies, nourishing us and keeping our bodies running smoothly. In a perfect state, the qi is ample but not overabundant, flowing smoothly through our bodies in the direction in which it was meant to flow. Of course, it is impossible to exist in an absolutely “perfect” state. Even the healthiest of us have some level of imbalance, and acupuncturists are trained to adjust these imbalances, boosting health and vitality.

Most people will not bother to schedule an acupuncture appointment unless there is something actively wrong with them. But acupuncture's true strength lies in its ability to act as preventative medicine. From an acupuncturist's perspective, waiting until you are sick to make an appointment is like refusing to stretch before running, because you know you can always see a doctor for that inevitable muscle strain. Why wait to get sick or injured when you can prevent it from occurring in the first place?

Are you a candidate for acupuncture? You may feel completely “healthy” at this moment, but ask yourself the following questions:

1. On a scale of 1-10, how high is your energy level? And if it is high right now, do you expect it to stay this high through the whole day, with no sudden crashes?

2. How is your sleep? Is it consistently deep and restful? Do you always feel refreshed upon waking?

3. Do you have any issues with digestion? Are your bowel movements regular and well-formed? Do you experience gas, bloating, or heartburn after meals?

4. How are your moods? Are you fairly even-kept and happy? Do you feel that your life is stress-free?

5. Do you ever get headaches, shoulder tension, a stiff neck, a tight jaw?

6. If you are a female, do you experience cramping, bloating, or mood swings with your periods?

All of these issues are signs of imbalance, and they can all be successfully trough through acupuncture.