What is Acupuncture?
A: Acupuncture is a holistic system of healing, which
originated in China about 5,000 years ago and is the oldest continuously
practiced medical system in the world. Acupuncture points are areas of
designated electrical sensitivity shown to be effective in the treatment
of specific health problems. While perhaps best known for pain relief,
traditional acupuncture is used to maintain health and treat a wide range
of illnesses. It focuses on the patient's overall well-being, rather than
treating only specific, isolated symptoms. The basic premise of all Oriental
medicine is that health is dependent on the body's life force, "Qi"
(pronounced "chee"), flowing in a smooth and balanced way through
the network of meridians (channels) connecting all major organs. Qi consists
of equal and opposite qualities, known as yin and yang. When the Qi is
disturbed, these become unbalanced, resulting in illness. Any number of
factors, such as anxiety, stress, poor nutrition, weather conditions,
hereditary, infections, toxins and trauma, can disturb the flow of Qi.
The acupuncturist restores the balance by inserting fine sterilized needles
into the channels of energy, stimulating the body's own natural healing
mechanisms. As a holistic method, the principal aim of acupuncture is
to restore equilibrium between a person's physical, emotional and spiritual
In the U.S. acupuncture has been available
since 1972 when an aide of President Nixon was successfully treated in
China. All told, Acupuncture is used by nearly one third of the world
as a primary health care system and many more as an adjunctive therapy. [Top]
What is moxabustion?
A: Moxabustion is an Oriental medicine heat therapy utilizing
moxa, or mugwort herb (Artemisia Vulgaris). It plays an important role
in many Asian traditional medical systems. During the moxabustion, the
specially processed leaves of Artemisia Vulgaris are burned at or above
the acupuncture points to warm regions with the intention of stimulating
circulation and inducing a smooth flow of Qi and Blood.
The word moxa comes from Japanese mogusa (the u is
not very strongly enunciated). The Chinese character for moxa forms one
half of the two making up the Chinese word that often gets translated
as "acupuncture" zhenjiu. [Top]
How does acupuncture work?
A: Traditional acupuncture is based on the ancient Chinese
theories of the flow of Qi (Energy)(pronounced: Chee) and Xue (Blood)
through distinct meridians or pathways that cover the body in a way that
nerves and blood vessels do. There is an old Chinese saying, “If there
is free flow - there is no pain; if there is no free flow - there is pain”.
According to the ancient theory, acupuncture removes blockages in the
meridians and allows Qi to flow to the areas where it is deficient and
away from where it’s excessive, regulating and restoring the energetic
balance of the body.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling
the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals
in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain, including endorphins, enkephalins
and other neurotransmitters. Either these chemicals will change the experience
of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones
that influence the body's own internal regulating system, bringing about
a normalizing effect on neuroendocrine function. The improved energy and
biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the
body's natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional
What is Qi and how does it travel?
A: At the core of this ancient medicine is the philosophy
that Qi (pronounced “chee”), or Life Energy flows throughout
the body. Qi helps to animate the body and protect it from illness, pain
and disease. A person’s health is influenced by the quality, quantity
and balance of Qi.
Qi circulates though specific pathways called
meridians. There are 14 main meridian pathways thoughtou the body. Each
is connected to specific organs and glands. Meridian pathways are like
rivers. Where a river flows, it transports life-giving water that nourishes
the land, plants and people. In the same way, meridian pathways transport
life giving Qi to nourish and energize every cell, organ, gland, tissue
When Qi flows freely thought the body, one
enjoys good physical, mental and emotional
well–being. An obstruction of Qi anywhere in the body is like a
dam, backing up the flow in one area and restricting it in others. This
blockage can hinder the distribution of the nourishment that the body
requires to function optimally. [Top]
What can affect Qi?
May things influence the quality, quantity and balance
of Qi. Physical and emotional trauma, stress, lack of exercise, over exertion,
seasonal changes, diet, accidents or excessive activity can lead to a
blockage of imbalance of Qi.
Normally, when this imbalance occurs the body naturally
bounces back, returning to a balanced state of health and well-being.
When the disruption to Qi is prolonged or excessive, or if the body is
in a weakened state , then illness, pain or disease can set in. [Top]
How do I choose an acupuncturist?
A: Your results with acupuncture will depend to a great
extent on the provider you choose. We recommend finding an acupuncturist
with whom you feel comfortable. If you like and trust your practitioner,
your experience will be more positive. It is also important to know about
the acupuncturist's training and experience, and what to expect from the
treatment. The clearer you are about who is treating you and exactly what
the treatment involves, the more you will be able to relax during the
acupuncture session and benefit from this ancient form of health care.
Credentials to Look For:
Acupuncture is an acknowledged and respected field
of medicine, and most states, provinces and countries requires formal
training and certification. In particular, the United States has rigorous
training standards for acupuncturists. Most states require a 4-year Masters
degree in Acupuncture (MSAC) or Traditional Oriental Medicine (MSTOM)
from an accredited acupuncture school. In addition, an acupuncturist must
pass written and practical state and/or national board exams in order
to become licensed. Training includes all aspects of Western medicine
as well as Traditional Oriental Medicine. If you live in a state that
does not require licensing, choose an acupuncturist certified by the National
Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Its members
are required to have a degree in Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine (Acupuncture
and Herbal Medicine) from an accredited school, or have worked as an apprentice
acupuncturist for at least four years, and passed both written and practical
national board exams. Those who have passed the acupuncture portion of
the exam are entitled to add "Dipl Ac." (Diplomate of Acupuncture)
to their names. Practitioners of Traditional Oriental Medicine have passed
the exams required for the Dipl.Ac. and the Herbal Medicine exam. [Top]
Does the patient have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
A: No. Acupuncture has been used successfully to treat
children and animals, neither of whom have preconceived beliefs about
the effectiveness of acupuncture. As with any healing modality, be it
western medicine or a complementary system such as acupuncture, a positive
mental outlook and lifestyle can reinforce the effects of treatment, just
as a negative attitude or lifestyle can hinder healing. [Top]
Does it hurt?
A: Acupuncture employs very thin, disposable steel
needles 1/4 mm in diameter and 1 to 1.5 inches in length. The needle is
solid and made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with
cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin
feels very different from the injections or blood sampling. Most patients
feel only a minimal pricking pain as the needles are inserted; some do
not feel anything at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain
felt. Although, it is considered normal and even beneficial to feel certain
sensations at some acupuncture points during the treatment. You might
feel tingling, distention, warmth, mild aching around the needle or traveling
up or down the involved meridian.
Most patients find treatments very relaxing and it is a common practice
for patients to fall asleep during the treatment. [Top]
How many treatments and how often will I need them?
A: The number of treatments will vary from person to
person. Some people experience immediate relief; others may take months
or even years to achiever results. Chronic conditions usually take longer
to resolve then acute ones. Plan on a minimum of a month to see significant
Usually the acupuncturist will set up a
treatment plan consistent of 10 to 12 treatments. Patients with severe
Qi imbalance will be seen twice a week until their energy begins to hold
balance for longer periods at which point treatment will be once a week.
Then you can go once a month for maintenance treatment. The ultimate goal
is for your body to hold the Qi energy balance on its own and for you
to visit an acupuncturist only when temporary stresses bring an imbalance
to your Qi. [Top]
What will happen on my first visit?
A: For your initial consultation, the acupuncturist
needs to assess your general health. You will be asked about your current
symptoms and any treatment you have received so far. It is also important
to gather detailed information about your medical history and that of
your family, your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional
state. To discover how the energies are flowing in your body, the acupuncturist
is likely to check your pulse. The structure, color and coating of your
tongue also provide keys to your physical health.
Stimulation of specific areas affects the
functioning of various organs. However, those areas may not be close to
the part of the body where you are experiencing a problem. For example,
if you suffer from headaches, needles may be inserted into your foot or
hand. There are around 500 acupuncture points on the body, and an experienced
acupuncturist will use a selection of perhaps 10 or 12 of these for each
treatment. Often during the course of treatment, different points will
be selected as the patient's condition changes.
The acupuncturist may also supplement needle
treatment with moxa, a smoldering herb used to warm acupuncture points.
Other methods include lasers or electro-acupuncture. Massage, or tapping
with a rounded probe, are techniques particularly suitable for small children
or for people with a fear of needles.
We recommend wearing loose, comfortable
clothing to receive acupuncture treatment. You should also be aware that
the acupuncturist might need to access points on your torso, arms and
Is it safe?
A: Yes. Licensed acupuncturists required to pass and
be certified in the Clean Needle Technique exam that ensures safety of
the treatment. Acupuncturist in this office uses only sterilized, individually
packed, disposable needles that never saved or used in multiple treatments,
which eliminates the possibility of transmitting a communicable disease
by a contaminated needle. [Top]
Q: Are there “Do’s
and Don’ts” for a patient on a day of treatment?
A: Yes, the following suggestions will help you get
the maximum benefits from your treatment:
Maintain good personal hygiene to reduce the possibility of bacterial
Wear loose clothing and if possible, avoid wearing tight stockings.
Avoid treatment when excessively fatigued, hungry, full, emotionally
upset, or shortly after sex.
Avoid eating a big meal within one hour of your appointment (digestion
alters the pattern of your pulse)
Avoid alcohol, tobacco, food or drinks that color your tongue (such
as coffee) immediately prior to treatment or just following a treatment
Plan your activities so that after the treatment you can get some
rest, or at least not have to be working at top performance. This
is especially important for the first few visits.
Remember to keep good mental or written notes of what your response
is to the treatment. This is important for your doctor to know so
that the follow-up treatments can be designed to best help you and
Continue to take any prescription medicines as directed by your
Please bring with you any information about your case you may have
from your other doctors, including things like lab tests, blood work,
reports of x-rays or MRI's, etc. To save time you may fill out our
office forms before coming into the office.
Relax; there is no need to be frightened. Ask your practitioner
any questions you have along the way so that you can get the most
benefit possible from the treatment.
During the treatment, do not change your position or move suddenly.
If you are uncomfortable, tell your practitioner.
Very few people experience dizziness, nausea, cold sweat, shortness
of breath, or faintness during treatment. This can occur if you are
nervous. Inform your practitioner immediately so he or she can readjust
or withdraw the needles. Also, let your practitioner know if you feel
an increasing amount of pain or burning sensation during the treatment.
If you find your treatment unbearable at any point, be sure to
speak up so that your practitioner can make proper adjustments or
stop the treatment.
It also helps to be in a calm state. Try to arrive 10 or 15 minutes
before your appointment to give yourself a chance to relax. Comfortable,
loose clothing should be worn, and you should not wear any metallic
jewelry, watches, or earrings. Makeup and nail polish should be minimized
or eliminated. Please also avoid the use of perfumes, colognes or strongly
scented cosmetics. [Top]
What can I expect after the treatment?
A: You may note a spot of blood at one or more of the
needle sites and/or a small bruise could develop. These should not be
harmful, but please talk to your practitioner if you are concerned. Patients
often experience the most dramatic results after the first treatment.
Some patients experience an immediate total or partial relief of their
pain or other symptoms. This relief may last or some pain may return after
a day or so. In a few cases, there may be no immediate relief, but patients
notice the diminishment of pain over the next couple of days. Generally,
you should expect to feel better, but in some small percentage of cases,
the treatment provokes a “healing crisis”; in such cases, the pain actually
increases as a result of the treatment. This is actually a positive sign
and usually indicates that relief will follow subsequent treatments. [Top]
Should I tell my doctor?
A: Absolutely! Acupuncture is a legally accepted branch
of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the US, just like chiropractic
manipulations. Only combining the Western and Eastern medical care we
can reach optimum health and well-being. If you are receiving treatment
from your doctor, then it makes sense to tell him/her about your intention
to have acupuncture. Feel free to give your medical doctor any and all
information about your acupuncture provider and encourage them to contact
us. At the same time, you should always inform your acupuncturist of any
other treatment you are receiving, such as medications, as this may affect
your response to the acupuncture treatment. [Top]
Should I continue with my prescribed medication while receiving acupuncture
A: Yes, at least until you have thoroughly discussed
your options with your doctor or the practitioner who prescribed the medication.
Many people seek the help of an acupuncturist because of dissatisfaction
with drug treatment - whether it does not seem to be working or there
are unacceptable side effects. However, DO NOT stop taking any medication
without professional guidance. [Top]
How effective is acupuncture?
A: Acupuncture is highly effective not only as a preventative
medicine, but as a drug-free treatment of signs and symptoms. Studies
indicate that acupuncture influences the central and peripheral nervous
system and evidence shows it releases endorphins from the brain, which
makes acupuncture particularly effective in pain control. Among a host
of factors, acupuncture affects sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels
in the blood; the functioning of the gastrointestinal system; and the
activity of the endocrine system. Acupuncture works with the body, strengthening
and balancing energy. It improves circulation and allows the body to heal
itself more quickly and more completely. [Top]
What if I don’t have any health problems? Can acupuncture enhance my health
or prevent future problems?
A: Yes. Acupuncture has traditionally been used as a
preventive medicine. Recent research has now verified that acupuncture
stimulates immune function, which increases resistance to bacterial and
viral infections. Acupuncture can dramatically increase overall vitality
and energy. It treats underlying causes, resulting in a deeper kind of
healing. It brings about profound changes in peoples¹ lives on the emotional
level as well. Many people find that occasional acupuncture tune-ups are
the best medicine to feel "in sync" and insure continuing health. [Top]