Acupuncture is a treatment that has existed and being practiced for hundreds of years. Looking like a macabre torture ritual to a first timer, the science behind it is intriguing. Focus spoke to Niel McDonald, a local practitioner, to find out more.
What is your connection to the Coffs Coast?
I’m originally from the Gold Coast and spent my early years either on or in the water surfing, fishing, boating and generally enjoying the outdoors. But as the years went by, those activities became less enjoyable with the influx of new residents and the relentless development that ensued. So in 2008 after spending many years visiting friends and holidaying on the Coffs Coast, I decided to pack up and move to this beautiful part of the world.
Where did you study acupuncture?
I studied for six years at The Australian College of Natural Medicine, where I attained my Bachelor of Health Science – Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. My studies included Remedial Massage, Chinese Herbal Medicine and Dietetics and of course, Acupuncture and Moxibustion.
Where did acupuncture originate?
The theory and practice of acupuncture originated in China. It was first mentioned and recorded in documents dating a few hundred years before the Common Era. Earlier, instead of needles, sharpened stones and long sharp bones were used for Acupuncture treatments. I for one am glad I wasn’t around to experience those early methods!
How does one become an acupuncturist?
To become a Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner/Acupuncturist, you must at a minimum complete a four year Bachelor Degree Programme. Qualified practitioners are educated in Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, diagnosis and clinical assessment, as well as Western Bio-medical sciences.
What can acupuncture be used to treat?
At my clinic I treat conditions such as Musculoskeletal Pain, Sports Injuries, Hormonal Imbalance, Fertility (Infertility, Pregnancy, IVF) Immune Restoration, Stress, Anxiety and Sleep Disorders, Fatigue and Adrenal Exhaustion, Digestion Issues and much more.
How does it work?
Acupuncture involves inserting extremely fine surgical-grade stainless steel needles into specific points on the skin – or applying various other techniques such as Moxibustion to the acupuncture points – to restore balance and encourage the body to heal itself by stimulating the body’s energy flow.
Traditionally, practitioners discuss your ailments with you; they may suggest dietary changes and/or a herbal formula to assist in the healing process. You will then lay on a treatment table facing up or down, depending on the area of treatment. Your practitioner will gently insert the needles into your exposed skin. The needles are .22 mm thick. They come individually packaged to ensure sterility and are never, ever reused. You will feel a slight prick when they are inserted, but not enough to cause discomfort. After the needles have been inserted, your practitioner will leave you for around 15 -20 minutes, usually they will leave gentle music playing in the background. They will then return and remove the needles; they may move to another area and repeat the process. A treatment usually takes about one hour.
Is it painful?
The simple answer is no, acupuncture doesn’t hurt when performed by an experienced Registered Acupuncturist. In my clinic I’m often asked about a treatment called dry needling, which from all reports is painful and usually performed by physiotherapists and some massage therapists. This form of “trigger point “ needling is often taught over a two or three day course and as such, the experience of the practitioner is extremely limited and the needle sensation can be painful. So my advice is, if your therapist pulls out a packet of Acupuncture needles, ask them if they are qualified in Acupuncture and if not, their level of training!
How did you become involved in complementary medicine?
My first experience with Acupuncture was as an 18 year old. I had an accident while in the surf and hurt my neck. I spent several months and lots of money on many western medical treatments, with no success. Eventually as a last resort, I turned to Acupuncture and much to my surprise, with two treatments my neck was better than ever!
From that day on I just wanted to learn as much as I could about Acupuncture. As it turns out, it was the best decision I ever made! I’m so grateful that I chose the path that I did. Now every day in my clinic I get to share my knowledge and experience with my patients. I never get tired of the look of utter surprise when people leave my clinic, pain free or just feeling amazed after having been through similar limited success with other treatments as I did back when I was 18. Acupuncture is truly a powerful tool when applied by a skilled practitioner.
What advice would you have for someone who is considering a career in
Personally, I have found a “career” that I am both passionate about and that brings me enormous satisfaction. My advice would be to follow your passions, and they will lead you to happiness and success.
Where can our readers find out more about you?
For more information about the clinic and the latest news and studies involving Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, head over to our website:
I regularly add new and exciting articles about the latest research and the amazing health benefits of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.