Q: I have migraine headache for years. Two weeks ago I got the flu and I am not feeling well ever since. My headache is getting worse. Yesterday I sprained my lower back at work. What should I tell my acupuncturist?

A: Acupuncture is a holistic approach that is meant to treat the person instead of a particular symptom. While you decide to have acupuncture treatment, you should put down all your complaints and medical history and report to the acupuncturist. Those complaints may all connect in some extend. The practitioner would then design an individual program for you base on what the disharmony or disorder you have, and treat those problems with the same session. From your headache to flu, your lower back pain, and whatever, they would all be fixed.

Q: I know acupuncture is beneficial for many health conditions, does it also have effects on AIDS?

A: Although acupuncture does not cure AIDS, it is often used with Chinese herbs to improve a patient's immune function and to reduce uncomfortable or dangerous symptoms, including night sweats, fatigue, and digestive disturbances. However, acupuncture significantly extends the life span and improve the quality of life in AIDS patients.

Q: I have heard about acupuncture detoxification programs dealing with addiction. Is acupuncture effective in this regard?

A: Acupuncture is very effective in the treatment of opium and heroin addictions, and has a significant response in alleviating the symptoms of withdrawal. This is confirmed by studies done recently by the U.S. National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) which recommends acupuncture be widely utilized to treat substance abuse. In addition, acupuncture claims high success rates with cigarette addiction.

Q: I am ready to make an acupuncture appointment, is acupuncture covered by BC Medical?

A: Acupuncture is not covered by the B.C. Medical Services Plan. However, WCB, ICBC, Veteran Affairs and extended medical plans cover acupuncture. Please find out from your insurance policy or your claim representative, and bring your claim number with you to the appointment.

Q: I was prescribed some dry herbs by a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, what is the proper way to prepare it?

A:  1. Place the herbs in a non-metal cooking pot, (e.g. clay pot, glass pot, pyrex, etc.) with cold water (1.5-2 litres of water, depending on the size of the pot). Soak it for half an hour or so.
     2. Bring the water to boil and cover the pot tightly, then simmer it until it reduces to approximately 2 cups. Strain the decoction out and save it.
     3. Re-cook the leftover herbs by adding another 1 litre of water and make 2 cups of decoction with the above-mentioned procedure.
     4. Mix the total 4 cups of decoction (from steps 2 and 3) together. This is a two-day supply and is ready to serve. Keep decoction refrigerated.
     5. Two cups a day. Drink it warm.

Q: What is Shi Liao or Food Therapy?

A: Food Therapy has a recorded history of more than 3,000 years and is the most basic treatment in Chinese Medicine to prevent and cure disease. It is the preparation of medicinal food dishes, using selected food ingredients and superior herbs, to derive the necessary nutrients to treat specific health conditions. It is the product of accumulated experience from generation after generation of close monitoring and refinement of recipes on people. Each recipe is tried-and-true and the natures, characteristics, therapeutic effects and impacts on people are fully known. Besides, most recipes are very delicious and they are specialties in the Chinese cuisine. 

Q: I have heard that Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can be beneficial to animals. Do you have any information for that regard?

A: Animals are usually presented with an entering complaint. Initial treatment is usually directed towards correcting the more acute problem; however, longer term balancing of the underlying constitutional imbalance is often required in order to keep the initial complaint from recurring. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine is aimed at restoring this natural balance. It consists of Chinese herbal medicine, acupressure, and food therapy; acupuncture and so on. They can be used effectively on its own or in conjunction with Western medications. Treatments should only be employed under the instruction and supervision of an appropriately trained veterinarian.

For acupuncture treatment, the placement of needles causes very little, if any, discomfort.  Once the needle is situated it is painless. During a treatment most animals become very calm and relaxed; they may become sleepy and yawn.  The number of needles, their placement and needling technique employed varies from case to case, as does the duration of treatment.  The duration of treatment can be as short as a few seconds to as long as thirty minutes.  The number of sessions and their timing varies with the problem being treated.  Most cases will need up to ten treatments at varying time intervals; however some will require only one or two treatments.

Reference book: Four Paws Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs by Cheryl Schwartz     ISBN 0-89087-790-4