Registered acupuncturist Brenna Bouchard sees about 30 to 35 patients each week at her practice in Fort Saskatchewan.
People come by her clinic seeking relief from a number of health problems, including migraines, hormonal balance issues and depression.
The local health-care professional says many of her patients have one problem in common – too much stress in their lives.
"A lot of people, the root cause of what is going on in their body is stress,” Bouchard said.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, stress can cause physical symptoms such as a racing heart and tense muscles and eventually lead to sleep problems, headaches or other issues. Daily hassles and major life changes are common sources of stress.
Bouchard, who has been practicing in Fort Saskatchewan since December, was drawn to the profession after experiencing the benefits of acupuncture for herself.
“I personally had a sports injury and nobody seemed to be able to help me, so I actually did acupuncture as a last resort and then I found out it could help me with a whole other slew of things like digestive health and things like that,” she said.
Bouchard considers the body as a whole when developing treatment plans. She starts with the idea that everyone’s situation is unique.
“Chinese medicine is a little bit different than your traditional doctor's visit,” she said. “So there's a pretty intensive intake process where I ask a lot of questions and it's put together into a pattern. So it's very individual. Each treatment protocol is tailored to the person and not just to whatever disease they have.”
Bouchard added that acupuncture can bring a number of benefits, both short- and long-term, to people dealing with too much stress.
"For your first treatment, it would be just a general sense of relaxation. It does release a lot of feel-good hormones like dopamine and oxytocin. So that helps with your moods in general. But it also helps to kind of regulate your nervous system so that you're not always running at such a high level of stress and it helps you deal and manage with stress better going forward.”
Besides acupuncture, Bouchard’s treatment plans also include herbal formulas, supplements and guidance on nutrition and lifestyle.