Understanding the Art and Science of Acupuncture

Feb 29, 2024

Understanding the Art and Science of Acupuncture

By: Candace Haughian, Acupuncturist, Nest Integrative Wellness


Acupuncture is a holistic healing technique that traces its roots back thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. It involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body, aiming to stimulate these points to promote natural healing, alleviate pain, and improve overall well-being. While the concept might seem unconventional to some, its effectiveness and widespread use continue to pique curiosity and garner attention in scientific communities. 

The Principles Behind Acupuncture

Central to acupuncture is the belief in a vital energy force called "qi" (pronounced "chee") that flows through pathways or meridians in the body. According to traditional Chinese medicine, disruptions or imbalances in the flow of qi can lead to illness, pain or discomfort. Acupuncture aims to restore the balance of qi by targeting specific points along these meridians.

The Technique: What to Expect

During an acupuncture session, a trained practitioner carefully inserts fine, sterile needles into precise points on the body. The number of needles used and their placement depend on the individual's condition and the practitioner's assessment. Contrary to common assumptions, the needles are generally painless or cause minimal discomfort upon insertion. Once inserted, they may be gently manipulated or stimulated to enhance their effect. 

The session's duration varies but typically lasts around 20 to 40 minutes. Many individuals find the experience deeply relaxing, often reporting a sense of calmness and balanced well-being during and after the treatment. Many of my patients fall asleep during their session!  

Conditions Treated by Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been employed to address a wide range of conditions, both physical and emotional. Some of the common issues where acupuncture has shown promise include:

- Pain Management: Back pain, headaches, arthritis, menstrual cramps.

- Stress and Anxiety: Acupuncture's calming effect can aid in stress relief and anxiety reduction.

- Nausea and Digestive Issues: It has been used as a complementary therapy for nausea related to chemotherapy and to address digestive problems.

- Fertility and Women's Health: Acupuncture may support fertility treatments and assist with menstrual issues or menopause symptoms.

The Science Behind Acupuncture

Scientific studies suggest various possible explanations for its effects. Some researchers propose that acupuncture stimulates the release of neurotransmitters like endorphins, which are the body's natural pain-relieving chemicals. Additionally, it's believed to influence the autonomic nervous system, promoting relaxation and modulating pain perception.

Safety and Considerations 

When performed by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is generally considered safe. However, individuals with bleeding disorders or those taking blood thinners should consult their healthcare provider before undergoing acupuncture. It's essential to seek treatment from a licensed and experienced acupuncturist to ensure safety and effectiveness.


Acupuncture continues to intrigue both practitioners and individuals seeking alternative or complementary healthcare approaches. Its long-standing history, coupled with growing scientific interest and evidence, highlights its potential benefits in managing various conditions and promoting overall wellness. As research evolves, acupuncture's role in modern healthcare may continue to expand, offering a valuable addition to conventional treatments for holistic well-being.

Get in touch 
If you’d like to learn more about how acupuncture can support a healthy pregnancy, book a consult with Candace.