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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the gentle insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body. This process stimulates movement of energy/Qi within the body, allowing natural healing to take place. These points are selected based on over 3,000 years of history in China. This ancient system of total health care has survived virtually unchanged. Acupuncture helps to prevent illness by improving the overall functioning of the body's immune and organ systems. Acupuncture is helpful for:

• Treating existing illnesses and injuries

• Preventing both recurrence of illnesses and new illness

• Improving overall health

• Stress relief

Acupuncture is part of the holistic system of healing known as Traditional Chinese Medicine ("TCM").

How does Acupuncture work?

Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory

Acupuncture The Classical Chinese explanation is that energy/Qi flows in channels throughout the body and over its surfaces. These channels are rivers of energy which are referred to as meridians. The Chinese have identified 71 meridians in the human body, which is a basic energy map for all people. The meridians are often compared to a series of interconnected highways. Each of the major organs in the body is associated with its own meridian. Through the network of channels the internal organs are connected to certain areas and parts of the body including the muscles, bones, joints, and also other organs.

The Chinese believe that health is a manifestation of balance, both within the body itself and between the body and the external environment. When the body is internally balanced and in harmony with the external environment (homeostasis), Qi flows smoothly through the meridians to nourish the organs and tissues. If an obstruction occurs in one of the meridians, the Qi is disrupted and cannot flow properly. When the Qi cannot flow smoothly or is forced to flow in the opposite direction, the body's innate balance is disrupted and illness results.

Acupuncture points are the specific points on the meridians where the Qi is both concentrated, closer to the surface and accessible. Acupuncture engages the Qi by inserting needles at these specific points, the goal being to restore the proper flow of Qi. As the body regains its natural balance, health returns.

Acupuncture and Modern Science

To the human body, acupuncture needles are a physical stimulus. In Western science, a stimulus is defined as a detectable change in either the external environment or within the body itself. When the body detects change, it produces a response. Although acupuncture is not yet fully understood by Western science, with modern technology scientists can now actually begin to "see" the body's response to acupuncture. For example, using an MRI (a very sophisticated x-ray), researchers have shown that when a needle is inserted at specific acupuncture points on the body, corresponding changes occur in the brain.

In the West, acupuncture is most well-known for its ability to relieve pain so the majority of research thus far has been done in this area. Acupuncture points are now believed to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release pain-relieving chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord and brain. Acupuncture may also stimulate other chemicals to be released by the brain, including hormones that influence the self-regulating system of the body.


Oriental medicine has been around for thousands of years, and has provided us with a unique and holistic approach to help prevent and treat disease. Western science and Traditional Chinese Medicine ultimately rely on the body's natural healing ability to maintain health and protect against disease. Both have the same goal of helping a person stay healthy. Western science tends to use drugs and surgery as needed. Acupuncturists tend to use gentle needling and herbs. A combination of both systems creates an ideal environment of health and healing.


What to expect on your first visit

When you arrive you will be asked to complete a health questionnaire & to sign a consent for treatment and acknowledgement of HIPPA (Health Information Privacy Act).

During the interview I will then discuss with you the information you have written on your health questionnaire and ask you more questions.

Some questions may seem unrelated to your primary complaint but they are necessary to determine the appropriate treatment for you. It is important to identify patterns of disharmony, which are responsible for your symptoms or disorder.

Effective treatment is based on correcting these disharmonies to resolve the symptoms you are having and help assist you in recovering from the illness or disorder.

No symptom can be effectively treated outside of the context of the whole person & the environment they live in.

You are a unique individual and your treatment will be individually tailored for you.

During the treatment you will be asked to sit or lay down on a treatment table.

Sterile single use disposable needles are used. These needles are very different than the needles you have experienced in doctors offices or hospitals. Acupuncture needles are very fine, flexible needles and they are gently inserted, often no more than half an inch into an acupuncture point.

You may feel a slight discomfort when the needle is first inserted but often you do not feel anything.

You will rest quietly or with relaxing music with the needles in place for 15-45 minutes. You may have needles inserted in your back for a period of time and then when these are removed you will turn over and have needles inserted in your arms and legs for another period of time.

Your treatment may also require Moxibustion (heat therapy), Cupping (suction cups), massage, herbal or homeopathic therapy, diet & lifestyle recommendations.

Your first visit my take up to 1-1.5 hours, follow-up visits take 45-60 minutes.

You may feel a slight discomfort when the needle is first inserted but often you do not feel anything.

You will rest quietly or with relaxing music with the needles in place for 15-45 minutes. You may have needles inserted in your back for a period of time and then when these are removed you will turn over and have needles inserted in your arms and legs for another period of time.

Your treatment may also require Moxibustion (heat therapy), Cupping (suction cups), massage, herbal or homeopathic therapy, diet & lifestyle recommendations.

Generally during an acupuncture treatment a person becomes very relaxed and may even fall asleep.

You may feel much better immediately after your treatment or you may feel gradual improvement over hours after your treatment. If you have a chronic problem you may not feel too much different and improvement may be gradual over a number of weeks or even months. Individual response to treatment varies.

Taking herbal &/or homeopathic therapy will facilitate the success of treatment as will making the appropriate diet & lifestyle changes over time.

It is common to feel relaxed & uplifted after a treatment

How to prepare for your treatment

On your Initial visit bring a list of your medications, supplements & vitamins.

If you have any test results related to your complaints please bring a copy of these.

Have a light meal or snack an hour or two before coming. Acupuncture should not be done if you are fasting or have not eaten that day, this may cause fainting.

Avoid caffeine for at least a couple of hours before treatment so you will be able to relax.

Avoid alcohol on the day of treatment, before and after.

Avoid recreational drugs

Physical exertion and sexual activity should be avoided for a couple of hours before and after treatment.

What should I wear for the treatment?

Just wear loose fitting clothes that can be easily rolled up above your elbows and knees.

Do I have to believe in it for it to work?

No. Acupuncture works whether or not you think it will. Acupuncture is even used successfully on animals and children. They do not understand or believe in the process yet they get better anyway. A positive attitude helps with any type of therapy but it is not necessary to believe in acupuncture (or to feel it working) for it to work. Since positive expectations and belief in a particular therapy help to increase therapeutic results, I encourage you to raise any concerns or doubts you may have about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I'd like to help you to better understand acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine so that you may have the most positive healing experience possible. You are invited to contact me today, and I will personally respond to any questions or comments promptly.

What is Pulse Palpation ?

At your regular medical exam the doctor or nurse might take your pulse � count the beats. Chinese Pulse taking is different. We not only look for a pulse rate but also the quality of the pulse. There are different positions and depths the pulse is felt and according to the findings a picture of balance and imbalance reflects the state of health.

What is Tongue Diagnosis ?

By observing the tongue body and coating an acupuncturist can asses the general health of the organs. Shape, color, texture and markings are identified and will confirm the Pulse Diagnosis and your symptoms.

Does acupuncture always help?

No, but it usually does. If you do not feel any benefit after 3-5 treatments, then acupuncture may not work for you.

How many Treatments will I need ?

Treatments are based on the individual person and problem. Long chronic condition may need many treatments (1 month intensive treatments for every year the problems was present), acute conditions may resolve with 2 - 3 treatments.

In general we recommend 5 - 6 treatments a week apart to see how you respond. After that we reassess and most likely lengthen the interval between visits.

After you reached the results of optimal health it is recommended you consider monthly well visits to maintain balance ie: health

How often should I be treated?

Typically I treat patients once a week. If the condition is acute and painful, I may want to do treatments 2-3 times per week for the first couple of weeks. The benefits of acupuncture treatments tend to hold longer as you receive treatments, so what typically happens is that my patients start to need to see me less and less, so after a while they only come only periodically for maintenance.

How quickly can I expect to feel better?

In general, I tell my patients they should start to feel the benefits from acupuncture in 2-3 treatments. If the problem is acute, sometimes improvement is felt after 1 treatment, and may only need 3-5 treatments to resolve. If the problem is chronic and long term, it may take a many treatments to help resolve.

How safe is Acupuncture ?

Acupuncture is extremely safe, since it is minimally invasive. It is a natural drug free therapy without side effects that leaves you with a relaxed feeling and overall sense of well-being.

All acupuncture needles come pre-packaged and sterilized, are used once on you only and are then discarded.

Relatively few complications have been reported to the FDA in light of millions of people treated each year. In the hands of a properly trained and licensed acupuncturist mishaps rarely happen. Most reports on the FDA list are from practitioners (non acupuncture) with limited training.

US FDA Regulation of Acupuncture Needles

In 1996, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed the experimental status tag on acupuncture needles. The FDA reclassified acupuncture needles, regulating them as it does medical devices such as surgical scalpels and hypodermic syringes. Acupuncture needles must now be manufactured according to single-use standards of sterility.

What are the needles like?

Only sterile, disposable needles are used so there is no risk of infection. We use a needle once, then dispose of it. Acupuncture needles are small and hair-thin. They are solid, not hollow like needles used by doctors. The end of an acupuncture needle is smooth and rounded. Acupuncture needles are not designed to cut the skin. Instead, when an acupuncture needle is inserted, the round edge pushes the tissue aside without cutting it. Acupuncture needles are so thin it's as if they can glide through the spaces between the individual cells of the body.

Does it hurt?

People experience needling differently. There are different styles of needling. I needle in Japanese style, which says to gentle insert the needle under the skin, and the Qi will rise to the needle. Acupuncture needles I insert are rarely described as painful, and can be quickly adjusted if the patients do feel discomfort. If any sensation is experienced during insertion, it is often compared to a mosquito bite and disappears very quickly. Once the needles are inserted, they may be manipulated to obtain a mild "Qi" sensation. This is how an acupuncturist engages the energy in your body in order to help balance it. Often people describe their sensations as warming, heavy, numb or tingling. I take great care to make my clients very comfortable so that they can relax while the needles are in place. The more you can relax during an acupuncture treatment, the better the results. Many people even fall asleep during treatment. Following treatment it is common to feel a tremendous sense of relaxation and calm.

Is Acupuncture appropriate for Children ?

Yes, children respond wonderful and fast to acupuncture treatments as well as herbal and homeopathic therapies. Often acupuncture points are stimulated with finger pressure or magnets on children. Ear pressure pellets can be used painless on children to stimulate organs and meridians/channels as well.

How are herbs used ?

Herbal medicine is by itself a powerful method of healing. Western drugs are usually used to control symptoms but do not alter the disease process. For example: antibiotics kill bacteria but do not improve a person's resistance to infection; diuretics drain excess fluid from the body but do not improve the kidney function. Chinese herbs can also rid the body of disease but they also nourish and balance the body in very specific ways, thereby improving organ function and building up a person's constitution and immune system.

Chinese herbs are traditionally given as a very strong tea. The acupuncturist will give the patient several bags of herbs. Each bag contains a formula of about 12 or so raw herbs that has been prepared specifically for the patient and his or her condition. The patient then prepares the herbs at home by boiling them in water for about a half an hour. The benefit of this method is that the formula can be customized to the patient's particular condition. The acupuncturist may prescribe herbal pills, powders or tinctures instead because these are more convenient. However, the raw herbs are usually stronger and always more adaptable.

How do herbs differ from western medicine?

Chinese herbal formulas tend to be much gentler than western medicines, and work to not only help relieve symptoms, but to help return the body to balance and equilibrium, so that herbs will not be needed further. That is why we often modify the herbs as treatment continues, since the body starts to shift towards being healthier, and therefore the herbs are modified to meet the changing needs of the body.

What are the educational & training standards for Acupuncture Physicians?

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine which encompasses acupuncture, herbal and homeopathic medicine, receive 3 to 4 years of extensive and comprehensive graduate training at nationally certified schools. This training is in addition to 4 years of formal college focused in a science or formal allied medical schooling. Eight years of education in total. All acupuncturists must pass a national exam and meet strict guidelines to practice in every state. And must perform 60 hours of continuing education to maintain licensure. It is a considerable professional achievement to earn the designation "Diplomat in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology (NCCAOM)." NCCAOM Certification indicates to employers, patients, and peers that one has met national standards for the safe and competent practice of acupuncture as defined by the profession. National board certification in acupuncture has been the mark of excellence in acupuncture since the inception of the Commission.

National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental medicine (NCCAOM)

The mission of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental medicine (NCCAOM) is to establish, assess, and promote recognized standards of competence and safety in acupuncture and Oriental medicine for the protection and benefit of the public. Since its inception, the NCCAOM has certified more than 13,000 Diplomats in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology and Asian Bodywork Therapy.

Can I take Chinese herbs when I am on medication?

It depends on the medications you are taking. This would have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Does insurance cover acupuncture?

Some insurance does. You need to check with your insurance plan. I do not accept insurance, but will give you a receipt you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.