Needle Knowledge

Acupuncture is a prevalent healing technique in the Danforth area. Here is a general overview of its healing qualities and how it may work for you, whether you think you need it or not

by Amy Postma

Acupuncture is an ancient healing technique, but many people still shy away from it due to lack of knowledge or belief in how it actually works—not to mention that it is applied with needles. If the volume of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practices and holistic healing clinics lining the Danforth is any indication, more and more people are seeing the value in seeking this alternative treatment.In general, acupuncture is used for the immediate relief of pain, such as migraines, back pain, arthritis, menstrual cramps and sinus congestion. TCM practitioners believe that when someone is experiencing pain it is because their body is out of balance internally and it is the cause of this imbalance that must be treated. Acupuncture works by focusing on your nerve and meridian points—specific energy points along the body—which, when treated, directly affect a specific organ or other internal area. It is through stimulating these areas and breaking up energy blockage points by inserting the thin needles that a sense of relief occurs from pain.

Photo source: Toronox, Malaysia, 2009.

Paul Marchinko, a Danforth area practitioner who holds diplomas in both TCM and Acupuncture, sees Toronto and the Danforth in particular as a popular place for acupuncture because “the surrounding area seems to be populated with people that are concerned about their well-being and health.” Acupuncture coincides with the growing changing attitude of not just treating existing medical ailments, but being “proactive in seeking out lifestyle changes that can lead to wellness, not just the absence of disease,” he explains.

There is no need to be wary about the treatment. Marchinko says clients should try acupuncture more than once before making a decision on whether it is the right treatment for them, focusing especially on being comfortable with the practitioner. He says to expect a 20–30 minute treatment session that will leave them feeling relaxed or even energized. “Clients should expect tingling, an ache or heaviness around the needles but all sensations should be relatively comfortable.” He adds, “Some points do not leave a sensation at all.” The treatment can be used as a preventative measure as well as to treat chronic conditions, and therefore can be tried at any time. In addition to aiding in pain relief, TCM acupuncture is useful for “observing the body’s health from the perspective that your personal constitution is a window into what health issues you might be at risk for or are already experiencing.”

Ranging from the medical to the holistic, myriad professionals support varying theories on why and how acupuncture works. Nothing, however, has been proven conclusively. In Western culture, the practice is growing immensely despite this as more doctors and health organizations recognize acupuncture as a valid and useful treatment of countless ailments. It seems how it works is not the important question as the healing benefits and success stories are undeniable.


  • Amanda

    Thanks for this article! I’ve been wondering about acupunture for chronic conditions and I am now inspired to do some more research on it. 🙂

  • Ariel

    When I was in Japan, I went to an acupuncturist a couple of times – it’s very different from Chinese acupuncture, so I’m interested in trying the Chinese style. Cool article!

  • Teru (Acupuncture practitioner)

    To Ariel: I’m originally from Japan and now I practice the Chinese style acupuncture in Canada so I want to write something about the difference. The Japanese acupuncture rely more on the meridian theory than the Chinese style(actually it is more ancient Chinese style), and use much thinner needles. The Chinese style uses thick needles and kind of believes in “no pain, no gain.” The interesting thing is in Canada even Chinese style practitioners use a bit thinner needles and it is between Chinese thickness and Japanese ones – my teacher said Canadians are too weak to take the pain :p but it is actually more “painful” than the Japanese style. In Japan they practice needling so that you can insert needles in a sleeping cat and not to wake them up! (But don’t worry, it doesn’t really hurt much – you feel something more compared to the Japanese style)

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