Frequently Asked Questions
Please review the frequently asked questions below. If you don’t find the answer to your question, feel free to contact our new patient coordinator via email, or set up a FREE discovery consultation.
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 aspects.
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.
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.
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 well-being.
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 and muscle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 changes.
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.
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 legs.
Yes, the following suggestions will help you get the maximum benefits from your treatment:
- Maintain good personal hygiene to reduce the possibility of bacterial infection.
- 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 your problem.
- Continue to take any prescription medicines as directed by your regular doctor.
- 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.
Take The First Step On Your Journey Back To Health
Maybe you have some questions you’d like to ask before you decide on becoming a patient. Our team is standing by, happy to answer any questions you might have in order to see whether or not Traditional and High-Tech Acupuncture is right for you.