Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is acupuncture?
2) How does it work?
3) Is it safe?
4) Many people think that acupuncture is painful...
5) Diagnosis methods...
6) What kind of diseases can acupuncture help?
7) What is herbal medicine?
8) What should I expect on my first visit?
9) How long does it take?
10) Do you accept insurances?
A: Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used systems of healing in the world. It originated in China over 3,500 years ago and only in the last three decades has it become popular in the United States. In 1993, the Food and Drug Administration estimated that Americans made up to 12 million visits per year to acupuncture practitioners and spent upwards of half a billion dollars on acupuncture treatments.
Traditional Oriental medicine teaches that there are over 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body, which are connected by 20 pathways (12 main, 8 secondary), called meridians. These meridians conduct energy, or qi, between the surface of the body and its internal organs. Each point has a different effect on the qi that passes through it. Qi is believed to help regulate balance in the body. It is influenced by the opposing forces of yin and yang, which represent positive and negative energy, as well as forces in the universe and human body. Acupuncture is believed to keep the balance between yin and yang, thus allowing for the normal flow of qi throughout the body and restoring health to the mind and body.
A: Several theories have been presented as to how acupuncture works. One theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or brain at various "gates". Since a majority of acupuncture points are either connected to (or are located near) neural structures, this suggests that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system.
Another theory suggests that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce narcotic-like substances, endorphins, which reduce pain.
Other studies have found that other pain-relieving substances, opiods, may be released into the body during acupuncture treatment.
The general theory of acupuncture is that proper physiological function and health depends on the circulation of nutrients, substances, and energy, called qi, through a network of “channels” or “meridians.” This network connects every organ and part of the body, providing balance, regulation and coordination of physiological processes. Pain and ill-health result when the flow of qi through the body is disrupted or blocked by pathogens, trauma, injuries or medications, as well as lifestyle factors such as overwork, poor diet, disturbed emotions, lack of rest or stress.
A: When practiced by a licensed, trained acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe. As a system of health care, acupuncture already has some inherent safeguards. Because the treatment is drug-free, patients do not have to worry about taking several doses of a medication or suffering a possible adverse reaction.
Properly administered, acupuncture is a safe treatment. Please notify your acupuncturist before treatment if you have a pacemaker, as acupuncture can be performed, but electrical stimulation should not be used. It is also important to notify your acupuncturist if you have a tendency to bleed or bruise easily, if you are a hemophiliac, or if you have any other serious health conditions.
A: Unlike other needles, acupuncture needles are solid and hair-thin, and they are not designed to cut the skin. They are inserted to much more shallow levels than hypodermic needles (needles used to give a shot or draw blood), generally no more than a half-inch to an inch, depending on the type of treatment being delivered.
While each person experiences acupuncture differently, most people feel only a minimal amount of discomfort as the needles pass through the most superficial layers of the skin. Some people report feeling a sensation of excitement, while others feel relaxed.
A: We use Oriental diagnostic methods utilizing the qi and the blood. Qi is yang and blood is yin. Qi is the life force that is believed to flow along a network of meridians in a person’s body and is vital to their physical and spiritual health.
If you have balanced qi and blood in the body, you do not get diseases. Unfortunately, no one is in perfect balance. With Oriental medicine, we try to balance the qi and blood of the patient in order to achieve homeostasis in the body.
A: In the late 1970s, the World Health Organization recognized the ability of acupuncture and Oriental medicine to treat nearly four dozen common ailments, including neuro-musculoskeletal conditions (such as arthritis, neuralgia, insomnia, dizziness, and neck/shoulder pain); emotional and psychological disorders (such as depression and anxiety); circulatory disorders (such as hypertension, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis and anemia); addictions to alcohol, nicotine and other drugs; respiratory disorders (such as emphysema, sinusitis, allergies and bronchitis); and gastrointestinal conditions (such as food allergies, ulcers, chronic diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, intestinal weakness, anorexia and gastritis).
In 1997, a consensus statement released by the National Institutes of Health found that acupuncture could be useful by itself or in combination with other therapies to treat addictions, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma.
Other studies have demonstrated that acupuncture may help in the rehabilitation of stroke patients and can relieve nausea in patients recovering from surgery.
As the use of acupuncture increases, more research is being to study the mechanisms and effectiveness of acupuncture on hundreds of different diseases.
A: Oriental medicine uses natural herbs like plants, roots, and leaves, as well as minerals.
There are several types of herbal medicine: Decoction (liquid type), powder, pills or tablets. Decoction involves making a tea out of raw herbs and is the most effective. The others are less labor intensive, but slower to create change in the body.
If you get both acupuncture and herbal treatments, you can expect much better results. That’s why we strongly recommend herbal medicines to our patients.
A: As with most health practitioners, the first visit to an acupuncturist usually begins with the practitioner taking a detailed history. Since traditional Oriental medicine takes a more holistic approach to patient care than Western medicine, you may be asked questions that appear unimportant (questions about your sleep habits, your ability to tolerate heat or cold, your dietary habits, etc.), but are vital to the type of care you will receive. After reviewing your history, the practitioner will begin diagnosing your ailment. Depending on your condition, you may be subjected to an examination of the tongue, as well as an examination of the pulse, a major diagnostic technique in traditional Chinese medicine.
Using all of the information obtained during the history and diagnosis, the practitioner will then determine the cause of your symptoms. Depending on the condition, needles will be inserted into specific acupuncture points on the body. The acupuncturist may use moxa or electrical stimulation to enhance acupuncture's therapeutic effect.
Depending on the seriousness and the length of your condition, your first visit may take 1-2 hours. It may take several visits to see significant improvement or to cure your condition. As with any treatment plan, make sure that your questions are answered completely, and that the treatment plans seems reasonable. If you don't understand a particular technique or type of treatment, please ask for clarification.
Please contact us anytime. We would love to hear from you!