I have compiled a list of questions that strangers and patients have asked over the course of these last seven years since I started my training! If you have a question that is not on this list, feel free to ask anytime!
email@example.com or (773) 354-7457
- Does Acupuncture Hurt?
It is not uncommon to feel a sensation with the needles. However, the needles used to draw blood or give a vaccine are 30-40x bigger than an acupuncture needle. Someone familiar with the acupuncture sensations generally will not describe it as “pain”, but sometimes it is more of a dull ache or throbbing sensation. Practitioners of Oriental Medicine consider a dull ache, warm sensation, or itching around the needle insertion sight a good sign that the treatment is effective. Most of the time, you won’t even feel any sensation at all.
- What Does Acupuncture Treat?
Acupuncture isn’t just for pain! While it is very good at treating both acute and chronic pain, acupuncture and oriental medicine has a large internal medical as well as psycho-emotional component. Oriental medicine can be supplemental to conventional treatments (i.e. – relieving nausea and fatigue after chemotherapy, modulation of hormones and stress during fertility treatments), or can manage quite successfully what other modalities don’t necessarily have a lot of answers for (i.e. – Fibromyalgia, IBS, Auto-Immune disorders). I have managed and treated a wide range of complaints, including chronic pain, eating disorder recovery, fertility, IBS, boosting athletic performance, migraines and even excessive sweating!
- How Does Acupuncture Work?
From a TCM standpoint, acupuncture works by facilitating the body’s natural stores of energy to return to their balanced, abundant, and healthy state. Illnesses arise from the body’s energy (or qi) not flowing properly. The acupuncture points have a specific function for influencing or redirecting that energy. I think of myself as a scientist and an artist, because I am trained to see the body as a functioning unit, and not necessarily different moving parts. We integrate the whole body and explain why your morning fatigue is related to your digestive complaints and foot pain!Modern science understands that subtle changes happen within the body when an acupuncture needle is placed. These include a release of endorphins and dopamine. The immune system receives a small boost, and while all this is happening the autonomic nervous system is being modulated. Acupuncture points can be explained via the peripheral nervous system (which is why on FMRI scans, eye centers in the brain light up when a needle is placed in the foot which is classically indicated for eye problems).
- How Many Times Will I Have To Get Treated Before My Symptoms Go Away?
There is a general rule of thumb that indicates the longer something has been going on, then the longer it takes to treat. However, you may notice that you feel great after only one session. If you are being treated for insomnia, then you may sleep great the night after your treatment, then return to your usual pattern after that. After your next treatment in a week, you may sleep well for two days then return back to your normal state, and so on. These treatments seem to have a cumulative effect, and when combined with compliance on part of the patient and perhaps herbal therapy, the symptoms will be alleviated much faster. The goal is to get you to feeling well enough where you only need acupuncture once a season, or when you’re feeling like a little tune-up! It may take 10 sessions to get there, but most practitioners will most likely be able to get you to at least a manageable state.
- What Herbs Do You Use?
Our herbal stores are vast, consisting of over 250 different herbs! Some are recognizable to everyone, including ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and mint. Chinese herbalists use different parts of the plants, such as the seeds, roots, bark, flowers, or leaves. All of these will have different healing functions and properties, even if they are from the same plant! Some are animal parts or even insects, so please let me know if you are vegetarian/vegan. Rigorously trained Oriental medicine practitioners can tailor formulas that are specific for you, effective, controlled and safe.
- Will The Herbs Interfere With The Medication I’m Taking?
Generally, no. The drug-herb interactions are very rare, and most herbalists will know exactly what they are. Just communicate your medications, dosages, and when you take them to your practitioner. Usually, something that could interact with one of your medications can be replaced with one or two other herbs that will have no interaction at all.
- I’m Moving/Going Out of Town and Can’t See You.. What Should I Look For In A New Acupuncturist?
Medical doctors and chiropractors can practice acupuncture in most states with minimal training. While I completely agree that anyone with knowledge of anatomy can learn how to place a needle that will be effective for knee or shoulder pain, the acupuncture experience needs to be by a trained practitioner. By all means, if your M.D or Chiropractor has needles and can treat your sore shoulder, do it! Acupuncture is wonderful for relieving pain, and you also found yourself a practitioner that will be open, interested and familiar to your acupuncture knowledge and questions.However, Oriental Medicine is not the way to treat shoulder pain or quit smoking in China, it is the medicine of China. NCCAOM certified Diplomats of Oriental Medicine have a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine that has taken up 4 or more years of work in the classroom, clinic, and sometimes abroad. We have had to pass board exams in four different areas of study including oriental medical theory, western medical science, herbology, and acupuncture. With this type of practitioner, you could get your shoulder pain treated as well as your shortness of breath and anxiety… all with one carefully selected needle.
- Should I Tell My Doctor I’m Getting Acupuncture?
Absolutely! Your acupuncturist and your doctor can be best friends forever. M.D’s are getting more exposure in their medial school classrooms to different types of therapy and their effectiveness. Acupuncturists are graduating armed with knowledge of anatomy and physiology and how to manage common western medical diagnoses. There is a great rapport that could exist between your practitioners, and it can only benefit you! Perhaps your M.D and your acupuncturist could work together to finally wean you off of your anti-depressant medication or your sleep aid. You have a lot of power in your hands to be proactive with your health, and a team of practitioners that want you to be the best you can be.
- Do You Re-Use the Needles?No. Each needle is single use, sterile, and disposed of in a biohazard container within seconds of being removed. Each practitioner is trained and certified in Clean Needle Technique, which ensures that your experience will be clean, sterile and with as much precaution for cross-infection as possible.
- There Are A Lot of Words That I Don’t Recognize On Your Business Card, What Do They Mean?
Gua Sha is using a scraping tool (like a bone or porcelain spoon) to release the muscle layer of your body, which is for acute pain or even the beginning of a cold. Cupping is using a glass cup and suction on your skin for acute/chronic pain or for a detoxifying treatment. Both of these therapies will typically leave marks that can range from a pink that goes away with in a day to a dark purple that will take a week or so to disappear. Most people enjoy these modalities, as well as the benefits they offer.Moxibustion is using the herb mugwort to treat pain or warm the body. The practitioner will use a stick or clump that is made up of closely packed mugwort that smokes like incense when lit. Usually, those that receive this treatment notice a comfortable warming sensation over their whole body. Tui Na is a medical massage that follows the channels and meridians of the body. I use Tui Na in almost every treatment to facilitate and support the effects of the acupuncture. The other modalities may or may not be used depending on what your specific needs are.
For a more in-depth look at what to expect during an acupuncture treatment, please click here.