Q&A with Acupuncturist Vanessa Groshong

Our second Q&A segment is with Acupuncturist Vanessa Groshong. Even though Acupuncture has been around for ages, it seems to be one of the modalities not many people are aware of or have a good grasp on in western society. Here, Vanessa tackles some of the most common questions surrounding Eastern medicine and Acupuncture. 

-Does it hurt? I don't like needles

Acupuncture is not supposed to hurt. The needles can feel like a mosquito bite at times or nothing at all when being inserted. The desired effect is a dull ache. We call this de chi or "the arrival of energy". It is usually described as a "weird" feeling - similar to pushing on a bruise. 
Most people do not like needles! I work around this easily as the relaxation effect overcomes the common needle-phobia.

-What sort of schooling/certificate does a therapist need? 

A registered acupuncturist requires at least 600 hours of training along with passing a national exam to attain their license in Alberta. This is different than other professionals who advertise IMS therapy. These medical professionals are usually physiotherapists, chiropractors, and naturopaths. These professionals typically take weekend courses of approximately 25-60 hours and are limited to dry needling (IMS).

 -I have heard that the ears are treated in acupuncture, why is that?

The ear is called a microsystem. This means the entire body can be treated using acupuncture points on the lobes. I often use points to help relax the nervous system for anxiety and sleep as well as major pain points for knees, shoulders, and backs.

-What are the benefits of acupuncture?

The benefits of acupuncture are vast. The top 10 reasons to try acupuncture are:

1.       It reduces pain and inflammation

2.       It quickly helps athletes recover from sport-related injuries

3.       It increases range of motion

4.       It reduces stress levels

5.       It helps you sleep

6.       It helps regulate cycles and eliminate PMS symptoms

7.       It’s great for fertility issues and pregnancy related symptoms

8.       It improves digestive disorders (bloating, pain, constipation/diarrhea, colitis)

9.       It helps with mood disorders (anger, depression, anxiety)

10.   It harmonizes the mind, body, and soul. 

-How would acupuncture help with sports performance?

Acupuncture can help heal sports related injury or limitation quickly without having to take time off from training. Its ability to reduce inflammation and pain while increasing range of motion helps advance athletic performance. 

-Explain the process of dry needling, motor points, and recovery.

Dry needling, or IMS, is the process of inserting a needle into tissue. It is not targeting acupuncture points. The reason it is used is because the practitioner is attempting to release trigger points. Trigger points are hyper-irritable spots in the muscle that create a characteristic referred pain or tenderness. Trigger points can be found in tendon, ligament, fascia and joint capsule. The disadvantage to only using dry needling is over-needling an area and causing increased pain and soreness. It can even be less effective than intended.

The usage of motor-points is different. Motor points are found in the central aspect of the muscle where the motor nerve enters the muscle. It affects the electrical activity of the muscle. Think of it as the on/off switch to your muscle operating properly. It has been shown extensively that needling motor points alone can decrease pain by resolving the motor point tenderness and trigger point tenderness at the same time. This is the difference in using 1-2 needles for a motor point versus multiple needles for trigger points. 

-How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture works on the movement of Qi in meridians. Think of your meridians (energy pathways) as highways with many different routes and your Qi (energy) as a car travelling. If all is well, traffic moves unhindered. If there is an accident and traffic is blocked, you must re-route. The same can happen with your energy flowing through your body. Stress, injury, trauma, grief, improper diet, or hormone imbalance can interrupt the flow of Qi in its meridians. Acupuncture helps to unblock the traffic jam as well as heal why the traffic jam occurred in the first place. From a Western-Medical perspective, inserting a needle into acupuncture points activates endorphins in the central nervous system and creates pain blocks at the spinal chord. 

-What other types of healing are similar to acupuncture?

Other energy related types of healing can have similar results as acupuncture. Some are reflexology, sound-vibration healing, reiki, and massage. 

-How do crystals work? 

Crystal therapy is not under the umbrella of Chinese medicine. It is more in vibrational medicine. Crystals have been used as far back as ancient Egyptian times for many different ailments or spiritual advancement. In short, each crystal has a geometric pattern that can match geometric patterns in our bodies. By having a specific crystal near or on your skin will allow for it to heal that aspect of your body. For example, rose quartz has the same geometric pattern as our heart. To hold rose quartz can allow us to reform broken geometric patterns in our hearts back to their perfect structure. 

-I smell a lot of herbs when acupuncture is being done. How does burning herbs help?

The herb I frequently burn is called mugwort vulgaris. It's a herb that has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. I use it for many conditions including digestive disorders, chronic fatigue or burnout, inflammation, arthritis, insomnia, stress, as well as acute and chronic pain.

-How does cupping work? Why would you want to do it? 

Cupping is like a reverse massage. Instead of pushing down on tissue, the vacuum of the cups pull the tissue upwards. This helps release tense muscles and pull up toxins that can be stagnant in the tissue. I like to use it for tight backs and shoulders and even legs for tight IT bands.


Thanks very much Vanessa for providing us with some great insight to Eastern medicine and Acupuncture. If you're curious to know more about Vanessa, visit her page here