Acupuncture: A Matter of Balance

February 15, 2016

As part of the Expo Manger Santé et Vivre Vert (in English “Eating Healthy and Living Green Fair”) which will take place next month, we have decided to meet its exhibitors. This week, we interview the Association des acupuncteurs du Québec (in English ”Quebec’s Association of Acupuncturists”) to explore the practice of acupuncture and its potential benefits.

Acupuncture — what do we really know about this therapy originating from traditional Chinese medicine? Practiced throughout the entire world for thousands of years, it is based on a notion linked to many fields concerning our health and especially our diet: balance. Acupuncture is much more than needles to treat back pain. Sylvie Robitaille of the Association des acupuncteurs du Québec explains why.

What are the origins of acupuncture?

“Acupuncture has been practiced for more than 3000 years in Asia. The ones who practiced it were called “barefoot doctors”. Vikings also practiced a certain type of acupuncture. These apprenticeships were handed down through word of mouth, through gestures. Soulié de Morant is the ancestor of acupuncture in Europe. He was a Jesuit who went to convert others and finally, was himself converted. And he came back with a lot of knowledge. What’s more, he was a sinologist, which means he translated Chinese texts and gave us a great gift by communicating the principles of traditional Chinese medicine.“

We know that acupuncture is based on the existence of vital energy which circulates in the body via a network of channels called meridians. By stimulating precise points with needles, the therapist can balance this energy. How are these notions applied to health problems?

“Many people know about yin and yang, but it goes way beyond that. It’s based on observations of men and nature. We want to understand where the symptom comes from. Take a migraine for example. Is a migraine present because there is an imbalance in a particular meridian? Is there congestion due to mucus because the person has digestive issues? We have to look for where the symptom comes from and why it is manifesting.”

What happens during a first session?

“We begin by asking the person questions in order to make what we call an energetic diagnosis. We want to know who we are dealing with. We will observe their attitude, their complexion. We will take their pulse at 12 different points. We will also ask questions about medications, lifestyle, diet. It helps the therapist understand where the imbalances come from.”

People consult acupuncturists to relieve certain muscular aches, but are there problems linked to diet?

“Certain people consult an acupuncturist for allergies, type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s Disease and even heartburn. There are in certain people disharmonies between internal organs, sometimes there is too much mucus, which can hinder the spleen. Based on the person’s dietary energetic profile, identified at the start of the session, the acupuncturist can also direct the patient towards certain foods to rebalance the body, based on the key concepts of traditional Chinese medicine. Here, we go against the trend of “eating raw”: ancient Chinese medicine generally advises eating foods hot rather than cold.

Whether or not we believe in the virtues of acupuncture, the medical community recognizes its effectiveness for pain relief. Just like a healthy diet, acupuncture aims to understand the origin of symptoms and create balance within the body. Would you like to try it for yourself? Go to the Association’s site  to find an acupuncturist in your area.

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Emilie Zaoré
A graduate of UQAM and the University of Montreal, Émilie has been a freelance communications expert since 2012. A foodie and passionate about new technologies, she's always on the lookout for trends and loves to share fascinating tidbits on social media.

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