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Acupuncture Treatment at
The Pacific Wellness Institute, Toronto

Toronto’s premier destination for acupuncture
Toronto’s premier destination for acupuncture and
traditional Ease Asian Medicine since 1990 ~


Qualifications: Acupuncture is regulated in the province of Ontario. If you are considering acupuncture in Toronto, it is essential that you seek a Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac), in order to ensure that the practitioner has sufficient experience and educational training in acupuncture. Our acupuncturists at the Pacific Wellness Institute are Registered Acupuncturists / Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners in Ontario.

Gentle techniques: The Japanese acupuncture treatment technique used in our acupuncture center in Toronto is not only highly effective but also distinctively gentle and painless.

Conditions: Because the acupuncture procedure provided in our Toronto acupuncture clinic is virtually non-invasive, the treatment can be applied safely and effectively for a wide range of health conditions.

Research: Our acupuncturists are always trying to keep up-to-date with new research that is meaningful to improving the health of our clients. Our clinic director has been actively involved in many research projects on acupuncture and related modalities with Japanese, American, and Canadian universities and research centers.

Clean Needle and Strict Hygiene Policy: Our acupuncturists follow strict hygienic and clean needle procedures. We always use fresh clean sheets and the highest quality disposable acupuncture needles imported from Japan.

Therapy room: Acupuncture Treatment is provided in a clean, comfortable acupuncture therapy room.

Experience: Our Japanese acupuncturists have over 30-years of clinical experience

“Your health concerns will be addressed in the most effective and timely manner possible. The acupuncture treatment system I have developed is designed to relieve your symptoms and improve your overall health simultaneously, which encompasses the knowledge and skills that I have acquired through my extensive research and clinical experience in acupuncture and alternative medicine.” T.H. Tanaka, Ph.D., R.Ac, R.TCMP

Clinic Director, The Pacific Wellness Institute Toronto, Ontario

Contact us

The Pacific Wellness Institute, Acupuncture Clinic is conveniently located in downtown Toronto, at the northwest corner of Bay and Bloor Streets directly above the Bay subway station. There is parking available just east of Bay Street between Cumberland and Yorkville avenue. (about Bloor-Yorkville, Toronto)

Pacific Wellness Team

Hours of Operation

Mon – Fri — 9:00am – 7:00pm
Saturday — 9:00am – 4:30pm
Sunday — Closed


(416) 929-6958

(416) 929-6365



80 Bloor Street West, Suite 1100,
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2V1
TTC Subway:
BAY Station (Bloor – Danforth Line) exit Westbound Platform to the Bay Street. Turn right on Bloor street, then you’ll find our building (80 Bloor Street West). Take the elevator to the 11th floor. Less than 1 minute walk to our building from the BAY station. There is also direct underground access to our facility from the BAY station.

BLOOR Station (Yonge – University Line) exit South Bound platform to the Bloor street. Walk towards Bay street (West direction). Immediately after crossing the Bay street, you’ll find our building (80 Bloor Street West). Take the elevator to the 11th floor. Less than 5 min. walk to our building from the BLOOR station. There is also direct underground access to our facility from the BLOOR station.

Alternate subway stations (10-15 min. walk to us): St George and Museum stations

Parking: There is parking available just east of Bay Street between Cumberland and Yorkville avenue. There are many other parking options available nearby.

Acupuncture – Ancient Wisdom and Scientific Basis

Acupuncture – Ancient Wisdom and Scientific Basis

Tim H. Tanaka, Ph.D., R.Ac, RTCMP

Registered Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

Acupuncture – Ancient Wisdom and Scientific Basis

If you are considering having acupuncture done in Toronto, Ontario, or elsewhere, please be sure to read the important information below.

Acupuncture has developed over the past few thousand years, through a rich tradition of trial and error, into an ’empirical medicine’, one that is based on observation and/or experience.

In the United States and Canada, many different styles of acupuncture have been introduced, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture, Japanese acupuncture, meridian acupuncture, electroacupuncture, auricular acupuncture, trigger point acupuncture, Korean hand acupuncture, intramuscular stimulation, trigger point acupuncture, and dry needling.

Despite such diversity, acupuncture is often discussed in general terms. Physiological response from acupuncture differ greatly based on various factors, such as the practitioner’s skills and the style of acupuncture.

It is important for consumers to note that in the province of Ontario, acupuncture is regulated (under the Regulated Health Profession Act, 1991 and the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, 2006). Therefore, acupuncture is commonly practiced by Registered Acupuncturists and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners.

However, in Ontario, other healthcare practitioners such as chiropractors, physiotherapists and massage therapists, who have completed shorter acupuncture training programs, are also allowed to perform acupuncture within their scope of practices and standards.

The article, entitled “Acupuncture – Ancient Wisdom and Scientific Basis” written by our Registered Acupuncturist, explains all about acupuncture in detail. This information answers most of the questions you may have about acupuncture in general. Even if you have tried acupuncture in other acupuncture centers in Toronto or elsewhere in the past, we encourage you to read the information on this page.

As mentioned above, there are many acupuncture styles and practitioner specializations. Each acupuncture provider may approach your condition differently. For instance, an acupuncture procedure used in a physiotherapy clinic and a traditional acupuncture center might be quite different. An acupuncture session between one registered acupuncturist center and another registered acupuncturist clinic could also be quite different.

You may respond favorably to any type of acupuncture or only respond to a specific acupuncture procedure. The best acupuncture procedure (or acupuncturist) for one person may not be the best for another. Sometimes, it is necessary to try out different acupuncturists or styles.

Whether you are residing in Toronto, Ontario, or in other countries, we hope that the information on this page will be helpful for you to find and choose the right acupuncture provider for you.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a method of inserting tiny needles into the tissues in different areas of the body. After placing the needle, the acupuncture doctor (or acupuncturist) may stimulate the point by tapping or rotating the needles. The potential benefit of acupuncture treatment is the elicitation of favorable physiological responses in the body to help heal injuries and manage various musculoskeletal pains. In addition, acupuncture has been used to treat a wide variety of chronic illnesses, prevent diseases, and improve well-being.

Watch this video to learn more about acupuncture Toronto

Brief History of Acupuncture

Acupuncture was first chronicled in the ancient Chinese medical text “Huang Di Nei Jing” (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine), originating more than 2000 years ago.
Acupuncture has spread to Japan and Korea in the 6th century. Until the introduction of allopathic medicine from the West, acupuncture doctors were the primary medical physicians in many Asian countries. In conjunction with Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture was utilized for the treatment of virtually all acute and chronic illnesses during many centuries.

One of the oldest medical texts – Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine)
One of the oldest medical texts – Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine)

Acupuncture in the West

Acupuncture was mentioned sporadically in European texts since the late sixteenth century. Sir William Osler, a Canadian physician, often referred to as the “Father of Modern Medicine”, wrote about his clinical cases in the medical textbook, Principles and Practice of Medicine (1912 Edition), including a dramatic success in curing back pain by inserting needles (hat-pins) into tender points.[1]

A flurry of interest in acupuncture developed when the news story about acupuncture broke in the New York Times in 1971.[2]  The story was written by the Times’ foreign correspondent James Reston, who accompanied President Nixon’s visit to China.  He revealed his personal account of how acupuncture remarkably reduced his post-surgical abdominal pain.

The curiosity and excitement were further ignited shortly thereafter when a successful open-heart surgery was performed using only acupuncture as the anesthesia.[3]  There has been a sharp increase in the number of analgesic acupuncture studies published in English medical journals. Outcomes from the studies have strengthened the case for the usage of acupuncture as a safe, natural alternative to control pain.

Many physiotherapy and pain management clinics have begun offering acupuncture, as a part of their rehabilitation programs for patients who suffer from motor vehicle injuries (i.e. whiplash) and other musculoskeletal pain conditions. Previous studies indicated that the mechanisms behind acupuncture analgesia involve complex interactions between the central (multiple cortical and subcortical brain areas) and peripheral nervous systems.[4,5]

In recent years, acupuncture has been used not just for pain conditions, but also for a wide variety of health issues including internal organ disorders and psycho-emotional illnesses.  In addition, acupuncture has been utilized to control addictions [6] and manage obesity. [7]

Furthermore, acupuncture has been increasingly used to complement modem medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, [8] post-operative pain management, [9] and advanced assisted reproductive technologies such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. [10]

Today, acupuncture is being provided not only in medical centers, but also offered in many other settings such as esthetic salons, anti-aging spas, wellness resorts, and even in some cruise ships, as the interest grows for the use of so-called acupuncture facial revitalization or cosmetic acupuncture, to enhance their facial appearances. [11-13]

[1] Osler W. The principles and practice of medicine.  New York: Appleton & Co., 1912
[2] Reston J. Now about my operation in Peking. New York Times, 1971
[3] Cheng, T.O.  Acupuncture anaesthesia for open heart surgery, Heart, 83:256, 2000
[4] Stux G, Hammerschlag R. Clinical Acupuncture: Scientific Basis. Berlin: Springer 2001.
[5] Pomeranz, B. Scientific Basis of Acupuncture.  Acupuncture textbook and Atlas, 1-34, Springer-Verlag, Berlin. 1987
[6] Moner, S. Acupuncture and Addiction Treatment Journal. Journal of Addictive Diseases. Volume 15, Issue 3, 79-100. 1996
[7] Cho. SH, Lee, J,S, Thabane, L & Lee, J. Acupuncture for obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis International Journal of Obesity volume33, pages183–196. 2009
[8] Ezzo, J., Streitberger, K., Schneider, A.  Cochrane Systematic Reviews Examine P6 Acupuncture-Point Stimulation for Nausea and Vomiting. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Vol. 12, No. 5 2006
[9] Sun, Y., Gan, TJ., Dubose, JW., Habib. AS. Acupuncture and related techniques for postoperative pain: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials, BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia, Volume 101, Issue 2, 1, Pages 151–160, 2008.
[10] Zheng, CH., Zhang, MM., Huang, GY and Wang, W. The Role of Acupuncture in Assisted Reproductive Technology, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 543924, 15 pages, 2012.
[11] Cauifield, T. Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash.  Viking, New York. Jan. 13, 2015.
[12] Donoyama N, Kojima A, Suoh S, et al. Cosmetic acupuncture to enhance facial skin appearance: a preliminary study. Acupuncture in Medicine. 30:152-153. 2012
[13] Yun, Y., Kim, S, Kim, M. et al. Effect of Facial Cosmetic Acupuncture on Facial Elasticity: An Open-Label, Single-Arm Pilot Study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, ID 424313, 5 pages, 2013.


How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture was developed with the understanding that there are twelve main channels, or “meridians,” running vertically across and throughout the body connecting the internal organs. It is a tenet of acupuncture that Qi (somewhat equivalent to the western idea of vitality or life force) flows along these meridian lines. According to traditional Asian medicine, more than 2,000 acupuncture points exist on the human body. Currently, the World Health Organization recognizes 361 points connected by meridian channels.[1]

The points used may be at the site of the complaint or further away. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is considered that good health requires a balance of forces in your body. Illnesses, pain, and discomfort arise when the flow is blocked or stagnated. Qi stagnation and Blood stasis (stagnation of old blood) are two of the most common diagnostic patterns in traditional Chinese medicine.  The primary therapeutic intent of traditional acupuncture is to remove these blockages and restore the proper flow within the body.

How does traditional Chinese medicine concept of “stagnated or blocked flow” translate into our modern medical understanding?

Ancient Chinese medicine doctors and acupuncturists have long ago discovered the importance of proper flow in our body for maintaining good health. From the Chinese medicine perspective, proper flow of blood (and qi) is considered the most important factor for our body to freely function without pain or illness.

Adequate blood flow is vital from modern physiological perspectives as well. Disturbances of blood flow to your major arteries and vital organs can result in serious health consequences. Our circulatory system maintains efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissues and assists in the removal of metabolic waste. Various organ dysfunction, skin conditions, hormonal disorders, and symptoms such as being easily fatigued, lacking concentration, cold hands and feet, and becoming prone to injuries, are often associated with inadequate circulation.


Acupuncture and Blood Flow

One of the well-known physiological effects of acupuncture is the enhancement of blood flow. [2. 3] It has been demonstrated via experimental studies that acupuncture induces physiological responses locally (around the needled site), as well it elicits responses away from the stimulation point, including in organs inside the body.

For local blood flow, a series of laboratory experiments suggested that stimulating the body surface by acupuncture induces excitation of sensory nerve fibers and triggers a reaction called, axon reflex (axon is another word for nerve fiber). The response involves a release of certain substances (such as calcitonin gene-related neuropeptide and substance P) that cause widening or dilation of blood vessels which leads to increased local blood flow.[4-6] Increased blood flow in the skin and muscle could lead to the acceleration of washing out of the ‘algesic’ (pain-causing) substances.

Therefore, one of the mechanisms involving the reduction of pain around the acupuncture site could be an associated post-stimulation augmentation of local blood flow.

This photo was taken 5 minutes after the insertion of an acupuncture needle. It shows a red circle around the needle. This skin color change known as the flare response is an indication of blood vessel dilation via the axon reflex.
This photo was taken 5 minutes after the insertion of an acupuncture needle. It shows a red circle around the needle. This skin color change known as the flare response is an indication of blood vessel dilation via the axon reflex.
A number of human and animal studies have also demonstrated the efficacy of acupuncture on internal organs such as the ovarian and uterine blood flow.[7-9] Elicitation of responses away from the stimulation point, including visceral organs like the uterus or the ovaries, are mainly due to the physiological reflexes called spinal (segmental) and supraspinal (systemic) reflexes.

Regardless of how acupuncture is administered (e.g., targeting a specific nerve, muscle, or traditional acupuncture point along the meridian), localized, segmental, and systemic responses occur simultaneously upon needling. It has been shown that certain acupuncture techniques induce predominantly local effects, while other techniques evoke a mainly systemic reaction.

Knowledgeable acupuncturists tactically create different physiological responses depending on the clinical situations in each patient. While the main tenet of acupuncture rests on the concept that the meridian system — the flow of energy, or qi — runs through the entire body, the new scientific knowledge acquired through research is integrated into classical acupuncture concepts for the optimum clinical outcomes, at the Pacific Wellness Institute, acupuncture clinic in Toronto.

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[1] World Health Organization Standard Acupuncture Nomenclature, 2nd ed. 1993

[2] Mori, H., Kuge, H., Tanaka, T. H. et al. Influence of different durations of electroacupuncture stimulation on skin blood flow and muscle blood volume. Acupuncture in Medicine 32:167-171, 2014

[3] Mori, H., Kuge, H., Watanabe, M., Tanaka, T. H.  Does electroacupuncture influence skin temperature, skin blood flow, and muscle blood volume among stimulation sites? Medical Acupuncture. 28 (6):325-330, 2016

[4] Sato A, Sato Y, Shimura M, et al. Calcitonin gene-related peptide produces skeletal muscle vasodilation following antidromic stimulation of unmyelinated afferents in the dorsal root in rats. Neuroscience letters, 283(2):137-40, 2000

[5] Kashiba H, Ueda Y. Acupuncture to the skin induces release of substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide from peripheral terminals of primary sensory neurons in the rat. The American journal of Chinese medicine,19(3-4):189-97, 1991

[6] Jansen G, Lundeberg T, K, Jartansson J, et al. Acupuncture and sensory neuropeptides increase cutaneous blood flow in rats. Neuroscience letters. 97(3):305-9, 1989

[7] Uchida, S et al. Ovarian Blood Flow is Reflexively Regulated by Mechanical Afferent Stimulation of a Hindlimb in Nonpregnant Anesthetized Rats. Autonomic Neuroscience 106, no. 2: 91-97, 2003

[8] Hotta, H et al. Uterine Contractility and Blood Flow are Reflexively Regulated by Cutaneous Afferent Stimulation in Anesthetized Rats. Journal of the Autonomic Nervous System 75, no. 1: 23-31, 1999

[9] Stener-Victorin, E et al. Reduction of Blood Flow Impedance in the Uterine Arteries of Infertile Women with Electro-Acupuncture. Human Reproduction 11, no. 6: 1314-1317, 1996

Acupuncture Health Benefits

Although acupuncture has been most commonly used as an aid to control pain, there are many other health benefits. Besides increasing blood flow, as previously explained, studies have shown that acupuncture modulates immune function [1] and the autonomic nervous system. [2-4]

Over the last several decades, a number of randomized clinical trials investigating the efficacy of acupuncture on a wide range of health conditions have been conducted. In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a review report entitled Acupuncture: Review and analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials.[1]

Based on the review of clinical trials, the report listed 28 health conditions that acupuncture can treat such as allergic rhinitis, depression, dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods), headache, knee pain, low back pain, neck pain, and sciatica. A systematic review and meta-analysis studies (more rigorously conducted than WHO review) provided evidence that acupuncture can improve several conditions such as low back pain, [5] migraine prevention, [6] osteoarthritis, [7] post-operative nausea. [8]

[1] World Health Organization: Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy, 2002
[2] Mori, H., Kuge, H., Tanaka, T. H. et al. Effects of acupuncture treatment on natural killer cell activity, pulse rate, and pain reduction for older adults: an uncontrolled, observational study. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 11 (2), 101-105, 2013
[3] Mori, H., Tanaka, TH., Kuge, H.,et al. Is there any difference in human pupillary reaction when different acupuncture points are stimulated? Acupuncture in Medicine, 28:21-24, 2010
[4] Tanaka, T.H., Leisman, G., Nishijo, K.  The Physiological Responses Induced by Superficial Acupuncture: A Comparative Study on Acupuncture Stimulation During Exhalation Phase and Continuous Stimulation.  International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 90, No. 1-2, 45-58, 1997
[5] Chou R, Deyo R, Friedly J, et al. Nonpharmacologic Therapies for Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review for an American College of Physicians Clinical Practice Guideline. Annals of Internal Medicine. 166 (7): 493–505
[6] Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, et al. Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 6 (6): CD001218, 2016.
[7] Manyanga T, Froese M, Zarychanski R, et al. Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 14 (1): 312, 2014
[8] Lee A, Chan SK, Fan LT. Stimulation of the wrist acupuncture point PC6 for preventing postoperative nausea and vomiting. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (11): CD003281, 2015.

Acupuncture is commonly used for painful conditions
Acupuncture is commonly used for painful conditions and has also been routinely applied as treatment for a wide variety of health conditions.

Health Conditions Commonly Treated by Our Acupuncturists

Our acupuncturists at the Pacific Wellness Institute in Toronto have in-depth experience treating a wide variety of health conditions and illnesses. Some of the health problems that acupuncture can help are:

Many pains, aches, and muscle / joint stiffness issues such as headache, tennis elbow, car accident injury (whiplash), low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and stiffness, sciatica, arthritis, bursitis, sports injuries, TMJ (jaw pain), fibromyalgia, etc.

Emotional disorders and stress related conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, stress management, etc.

Digestive problems such as gastritis, GERD, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, bloating, etc.

Bladder urinary problems such as recurrent urinary tract infections, overactive bladder, etc.

Female health and fertility concerns such as irregular menstruation, amenorrhea (absence of menstrual period), dysmenorrhea (painful periods), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), hormonal imbalance, menopausal symptoms, pregnancy-related symptoms (morning sickness, breech presentation, etc.), and infertility (thin uterine lining, poor egg quality, unexplained infertility, IVF assist acupuncture, recurrent miscarriages, etc.)

Other health issues such as allergy-related symptoms, sinusitis, acne vulgaris, atopic dermatitis (eczema), chronic fatigue, post-concussion symptoms, etc.

Please see our Health Concerns and Solutions page for the full list or feel free to contact us.

We also offer Focused Acupuncture Therapy for Several Health Conditions:


What is Moxibustion?

Moxibustion, an acupuncture practice modality, is a form of thermal therapy that involves burning the moxa herb over acupuncture points. The term moxibustion comes from the Japanese “mogusa” meaning the herb moxa (Artemisia Princeps, commonly called Japanese mugwort) and the Latin “bustion” meaning burning. Moxibustion therapy has been used in tandem with traditional acupuncture to treat and prevent various illnesses in eastern Asia since ancient times.[1]

Moxibustion is applied to acupuncture points either by direct moxibustion or indirect moxibustion methods. In recent years, especially in the West, the most commonly used form is indirect moxibustion which involves the administration of thermal stimulation without direct contact between the burning moxa and the skin’s surface.

There are different types of indirect moxibustion available. One example is a cylinder type, which contains dried moxa leaves inside a small cylindrical tube. It produces a fixed thermal intensity. Another common type is a handheld moxa-stick, which we use at the Pacific Wellness Institute, acupuncture clinic in Toronto.  With the handheld indirect moxibustion, intensity and dosage of thermal stimulation can be adjusted freely on an individual basis according to each patient’s skin sensitivity.

Moxibustion has been an integral part of the original concepts of acupuncture.  Many people in Toronto have experienced acupuncture treatment. However, not many people have been treated with moxibustion, partly due to many short acupuncture training programs offered in the province of Ontario are focused mainly on the needling part, and do not cover moxibustion in depth.

Effect of Moxibustion

Previous studies have suggested that moxibustion stimulation enhances blood flow [2], increases skin temperature [3], and modulates gastrointestinal motility [4].

Moxibustion is a vital treatment for many patients who are suffering from hie syndrome (cold sensitivity – one of the traditional Asian medicine concepts of health constitution) [5]. Hie is a very common syndrome among Canadian people who are living in a cold climate.

Many patients who are under stress, have low energy, poor digestion, and difficulty conceiving, and many other chronic illnesses have a tendency to have symptoms of cold hands and feet even in the summertime. Sufficient blood flow to their soft tissues and internal organs is often compromised in these individuals. The heat stimulation applied on selected acupuncture points helps to increase blood circulation to the organs. It also induces a deep relaxation response that aids stress management.

Moxibustion is different from other types of heat therapy such as the heat lamp, heating pad or hot stone massage. Indirect moxibustion provides mild soothing heat to specific acupuncture points (heating an area less than an inch in diameter), whereas the heat lamp and heating pad warm up a much wider area or region of your body. Unlike a sauna or hot tub, moxibustion does not cause you to sweat or elevate your core body temperature.

Therefore, moxibustion on selected acupoints can be applied safely and effectively for not only individuals with hie syndrome, but also other individuals with a wide range of health conditions and most women during pregnancy.

Moxibustion, an acupuncture practice modality
[1] Needham J, Lu G. Celestial lancets: a history and rationale of acupuncture and moxa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1980.
[2] Huang T1, Wang RH, Huang X, et al. Comparison of the effects of traditional box-moxibustion and eletrothermal Bian-stone moxibustion on volume of blood flow in the skin. J Tradit Chin Med. Mar;31(1):44-5, 2011
[3] Mori, H., Tanaka, T. H., Kuge, H., Sasaki, K. Is there a difference between the effects of one-point and three-point indirect moxibustion stimulation on skin temperature changes of the posterior trunk surface? Acupuncture in Medicine, 30:27-31, 2012
[4] Miyazaki, J., Kuge, H., Mori, H., Izumi, E., Tanaka, T. H. et al.  A moxa stimulation on the leg affected the function of stomach via autonomic nerve system and polymodal receptors. Health. 8 (8):749-755, 2016
[5] Mori, H. Kuge, H., Sakaguchi, S., Tanaka, TH et al. Determination of symptoms associated with hiesho among young females using hie rating surveys. Journal of Integrative Medicine. 16(1), 2018

What is “Acupuncture Moxibustion”?

Shinkyu (or zhenjiu in Chinese), meaning AcupunctureMoxibustion (one word).

Acupuncture literally means needle-puncture. Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy on acupoints.  In countries such as Japan and China, the practice of acupuncture is referred to as shinkyu (or zhenjiu in Chinese), meaning AcupunctureMoxibustion (one word).  It is traditionally believed that acupuncture used in conjunction with moxibustion profoundly enhances each modality’s effects.

Scientific experiments show that acupuncture and moxibustion work somewhat differently.

While acupuncture induces a physiological response mainly through the action on your nervous system, moxibustion is considered to act more directly on your circulatory or immune system. A physiological response, known as a neuroeffector response, occurs through different mechanisms, including central sensitization, peripheral sensitization, and the axon reflex; and that those response mechanisms are evoked by both mechanical or thermal stimulations.[1]

Stimulating an acupuncture point using both acupuncture and moxibustion could stimulate different receptors simultaneously, thus it could enhance each modality’s effects. In our acupuncture clinic in Toronto, we almost always, combine both acupuncture and moxibustion in order to achieve the best possible clinical outcomes for our patients.

[1] Sato A, Sato Y, Schmidt R. Somatosensory modulation of heart rate and blood pressure. In: Blaustein MP, Grunicke H, Pette D, et al. eds. Reviews of Physiology Biochemistry and Pharmacology. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 118-27, 1997.

Our acupuncturists are licensed by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (the governing body established by the government of Ontario, under the Regulated Health Profession Act, 1991 and the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, 2006).  The law in Ontario requires that every practitioner must be a registered member of the College (CTCMPAO).


Acupuncture FAQ

Is acupuncture only good for pain?
Many people, including some medical professionals, assume that acupuncture is a method of temporary pain-relief only. This misconception may have resulted from acupuncture being popularized in North America since the 1970s as a form of analgesia. It is true that acupuncture is commonly utilized as a form of pain control, especially when performed by physicians, chiropractors, or physiotherapists.

The main concept of acupuncture, as practiced in China or Japan, however, is to harmonize internal body systems and address the underlying cause of illness. Therefore, temporary relief of pain is only one aspect of acupuncture.

Acupuncture is a safe and effective method to deal with a variety of health conditions other than those causing pain. The WHO listed a variety of health conditions that can be treated by acupuncture, including organic illness. This is because acupuncture helps to regulate our physiological functioning. Acupuncture primarily affects our autonomic nervous system, which controls virtually our entire visceral (internal organ) function.

Is there any scientific proof that indicates acupuncture works?
Acupuncture has evolved over the past few thousand years, through experiential knowledge being handed down from generation to generation, into an ’empirical medicine’ based on observation and /or experience. There is numerous anecdotal evidence that indicates acupuncture works.

In modern healthcare practice, however, the doctor’s personal preference or belief has played a diminishing role in selecting the medical procedure for their patients. Instead, much more emphasis has been placed on evidence from rigorous research. This is called evidence-based medicine (EBM).

This trend has also influenced the practice of acupuncture and over the last decade, acupuncture has been put through serious testing according to western scientific research standards. Since 1974, over 2000 randomized, controlled trials on acupuncture have been conducted. The clinical efficacy of acupuncture for many health conditions has been endorsed by authoritative health organizations such as the National Institute of Health [1] and the World Health Organization [2] based on the review of past clinical trials.

While there are a number of clinical trials that showed the effectiveness of acupuncture on many health conditions, the vast majority of systematic reviews and meta-analysis studies (which provide the highest level of evidence), have been inconclusive. In the field of acupuncture, high-quality scientific studies are starting to emerge. More research is certainly needed.

[1] National Institute of Health: NIH Consensus Statement on Acupuncture, 1997
[2] World Health Organization:  Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials, 2003

I have tried acupuncture somewhere else before and did not feel any improvement.
It is true that not everyone responds well to acupuncture, however, it is important to remember that failure to respond to the treatment from one acupuncturist does not necessarily mean that your condition cannot be helped by acupuncture. As indicated, currently in Ontario, acupuncture is provided by various individuals with a wide variety of educational backgrounds. In some cases, it might be a good idea to consider trying a different type of acupuncture procedure or obtain a second opinion from another acupuncturist in Toronto or elsewhere.
Does all acupuncture work the same way?
No, acupuncture does not work the same way even when the exact same point is used.  Acupuncture is not as simple as inserting needles in acupuncture points matching conditions listed in a textbook.

In fact, studies have demonstrated that an acupuncture needle inserted in the exact same acupoint produces a different reaction depending on a variety of other factors such as depth of the insertion and technique used to manipulate the needle.  Experienced acupuncturists carefully consider not only acupuncture points to be used for each patient but many other vital factors that influence treatment outcomes.

Do you use disposable needles?
Yes, we have been using only disposable needles since the opening of our practice in fall 1990 in downtown Toronto. Each needle is discarded into a medical hazard container after every single use.

Are there different grades or qualities of needles?
Yes, there are different grades of disposable needles. We use only the highest quality needles on the market at our Toronto acupuncture clinic at the Pacific Wellness Institute. They are manufactured in Japan. Superior quality pre-sterilized needles are guaranteed to be 100% non-contaminated. Additionally, the ultra-fine needle tips provide smoother insertion, ensuring much less discomfort during treatment.
Is acupuncture painful?
Even patients who have had previous experience with acupuncture before coming to Pacific Wellness Toronto are often pleasantly surprised that our acupuncture treatments are more comfortable and painless compared to previous experiences.

The main reasons why our acupuncture treatments are so painless (or less pain) are the quality and size of the disposable needles and our Japanese insertion and gentle stimulation methods using a specially designed guiding tube.

In the 17th century, Waichi Sugiyama, regarded as “father of Japanese acupuncture”, in search of a simple, painless and speedy insertion method, developed the insertion tube, a small cylindrical tube through which the needle is inserted. This insertion method is widely used today by over 90% of the acupuncturists in Japan. Rest assured, we will adjust the treatment method accordingly, for those individuals afraid of needles or with extreme sensitivity to pain.

only disposable needles
Is painless, gentle acupuncture less effective?
Some acupuncturists believe that in order to produce a significant effect one must insert needles deeper and administer a much stronger stimulation; however, we do not believe this is necessarily true. Many Japanese practitioners clinically observe significant improvement in their patients’ conditions using an extremely gentle, superficial needling technique. Furthermore, our scientific study [1, 2] indicated that a very gentle superficial needling stimulation produces an immensely favorable response in the human physiological system. Our goal is to deliver the most effective treatment while providing a pleasant treatment experience.

[1] Tanaka, T.H., Leisman, G., Nishijo, K.  The Physiological Responses Induced by Superficial Acupuncture: A Comparative Study on Acupuncture Stimulation During Exhalation Phase and Continuous Stimulation.  International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 90, No. 1-2, 45-58, 1997
[2] Tanaka, T.H.  The Possibilities for Optimizing Acupuncture Treatment Results through Synchronization with Somatic State: Examination of Autonomic Response to Superficial Needling During Exhalation.  American Journal of Acupuncture, Vol. 24, No. 4, 233-239, 1996

You often put a needle in my wrist while I’m sitting and ask me to breathe deeply. What is this for?
The importance of paying attention to a patient’s respiration during acupuncture was emphasized as far back as 2000 years ago in Huangdi Neijing. (Yellow Emperors Classic of Medicine – considered as the oldest medical textbook).

The traditional, respiration-timed principal has been confirmed with the studies conducted in Japanese and Canadian research facilities. [1-4] The key to inducing a proper response is by synchronizing the needle stimulation with your respiration and carefully observing your breathing response while in the seated position. The studies showed that this needling technique produces a significant, positive effect on various systems including the musculoskeletal, nervous, circulatory, and digestive systems and induces a prolonged treatment response.  We usually apply this technique at the end of each treatment.

[1] Mori, H., Tanaka, TH., Kuge, H.,et al. Is there any difference in human pupillary reaction when different acupuncture points are stimulated? Acupuncture in Medicine, 28:21-24, 2010
[2] Tanaka, T.H., Leisman, G., Nishijo, K.  The Physiological Responses Induced by Superficial Acupuncture: A Comparative Study on Acupuncture Stimulation During Exhalation Phase and Continuous Stimulation.  International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 90, No. 1-2, 45-58, 1997
[3] Tanaka, T.H.  The Possibilities for Optimizing Acupuncture Treatment Results through Synchronization with Somatic State: Examination of Autonomic Response to Superficial Needling During Exhalation.  American Journal of Acupuncture, Vol. 24, No. 4, 233-239, 1996
[4] Nishijo, K. Scientific Approach for Acupuncture.  Journal of The Japan Society of Acupuncture.  Vol. 45. No. 3, 177-191., 1996.

Are there any side effects of acupuncture?
As with any medical treatment, there is a chance of developing unfavorable reactions after acupuncture or moxibustion treatment.  Adverse effects from acupuncture related procedures reported in the literature include infection, nerve damage, burn and puncture injuries to vital organs [1]

These serious complications, however, are exceptionally unusual, especially under the care of qualified acupuncturists. In very rare instances, fainting may occur especially among individuals who fear needles, have very low blood pressure, and attended the session with a lack of sleep and/or on an empty stomach.  Tiny bruises around needling sites are not very common but occasionally occur. These bruises usually diminish completely within a week.

While ‘acupuncture’ is often discussed in generalized terms, it is worth noting that certain acupuncture styles, procedures or techniques have been linked to certain complications more so than others (just like certain medications tend to cause more side effects than others). Nonetheless, compared with medical and pharmaceutical interventions, acupuncture is generally considered a safe treatment with minimal chance of serious complications. [2, 3]

[1] Wu, J., Hu, Y., Zhu, Y. et al.  Systematic Review of Adverse Effects: A Further Step towards Modernization of Acupuncture in China.  Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Article ID 432467,  2015.
[2] MacPherson, H. The York acupuncture safety study: Prospective survey of 34 000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists. BMJ 2001;323:486, 2001.
[3] Lao, L., Hamilton, OR., Berman, BM. Is acupuncture safe? A systematic review of case reports. Altern Ther Health Med. 9(1):72-83., 2003.


Compare 18-gauge hypodermic needle vs Japanese needle (SEIRIN 02)

Related Acupuncture Articles

How Acupuncture Works: Findings from Recent Research

A new study entitled “Is There Any Difference in Human Pupillary Reaction When Different Acupuncture Points Are Stimulated?” examined the effect of different acupuncture points by measuring the size of research participants’ pupils (the black central part of the eye) using infrared pupillography

Textbook of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion

Co-Authored by T.H. Tanaka, Ph.D.
Director of The Pacific Wellness Institute.


Acupuncture and Moxibustion

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