Frequently Asked Questions

How old is Chinese medicine?

Chinese medicine goes back over 3,000 years.

How does it work?

Chinese medicine uses acupuncture, medicinal herb substances and manual therapy to nourish and regulate the balance and flow of our own vital energies. Myriad processes within the human body are constantly seeking optimum levels of operation. Chinese Medicine teaches that all these processes, i.e., digesting, breathing, thinking, feeling, walking etc., are subject to, and supported by a synchronized, interdependent flow of energy. This flow of energy is our very own life force named "Qi" (chi). It underlies the continuous flow of all the processes of our life. If the flow becomes blocked due to some internal or external cause, chances are we'll end up feeling discomfort or pain. If the flow of energy is blocked for any prolonged period we may become chronically ill. For example, we've all had the experience of feeling rigid, tight or sore in the neck and shoulders after extended stress. As a result we may feel excruciating pain in those areas. Techniques such as Acupuncture, Tuina or Medicinal Herb formulae are employed to re-establish the flow of energy through the blocked areas. Pain is subsequently relieved.

It is the same for any of our internal processes as well. Blockage can create respiratory discomfort, digestive problems, gynecological difficulties, insomnia, constipation, emotional stress etc. Chinese medicine addresses any combination of complaints. It is safe and there are no ill side-effects. Normal activities may be resumed after treatments.

What are the needles like?

Acupuncture needles are solid, not hollow like needles used by doctors. They are small and hair-thin and can literally be bent with your pinky.

Only sterile, disposable needles are used so there is no risk of infection. We use a needle once, then dispose of it.

Does the US FDA regulate 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.

How are acupuncturists trained in the USA?

Licensed Acupuncturists obtain a 3 to 4 year master's degree with between 2500-4000 hours of training exclusively in the field and undergo an extensive clinical internship. They can additionally become Board Certified and are awarded the Diplomate in Acupuncture and/or Oriental Medicine (includes Chinese Pharmacology) after passing rigorous examination by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Continuing education is then required to maintain Board Certified status.

By comparison, most medical doctors, osteopaths and chiropractors who use acupuncture as an adjunct to their primary modality begin practice with only 200 hours of training. Additionally they are not required to take the rigorous national standard competency exam. Furthermore, their preparation in Oriental Medicine principles and diagnostic procedures is accordingly minimal. As a result, they typically limit themselves to using acupuncture in their effort to alleviate pain.

Licensed Acupuncturists on the other hand, successfully treat pain along with a broad range of health issues including chronic disease, internal difficulties, trauma, orthopedic injuries, illness prevention and health maintenance based on true competency in the principles of Oriental Medicine.

The disparity in practitioner training levels may pose significant question for those seeking to benefit from Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. It is important, therefore to inquire as to the type of training a practitioner has obtained before using their services.

Does it hurt?

Definite sensations are felt while receiving Acupuncture and different sensations may be experienced within a single session. These sensations are perhaps more startling than actually painful, and nothing at all like receiving an injection from your favorite nurse. It has been described as a pinch felt on the surface of the body, followed by a mild distending feeling around or just beneath the needle. The distending feeling dissipates shortly thereafter. Needles may be adjusted if there is any discomfort after insertion. Once all needles are in place, they are retained for approximately 20-30 minutes, after which they are removed and discarded. People often describe a sense of very deep relaxation while the needles remain inserted. The experience is unique for each person and may occur differently from session to session and from person to person, especially as one's condition changes.

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

No. Acupuncture works whether one believes it will or not. It is not necessary to feel anything "happening" for it to "happen". Acupuncture has been used successfully for centuries on animals and small children who have no ability to understand the process, and yet remarkable results are obtained despite their not knowing the least of how it occurs. Positive expectations will always propel us to overcome obstacles, and as positive results accumulate, skepticism becomes belief that is based on experience, not just expectation. I invite you to bring all your expectations and questions to my attention. I am most happy to share with you what I have learned about this great medicine.

How quickly can I expect to feel better?

In general you should start to feel the benefits of treatment within 2-3 sessions. If the problem is acute you may feel results after a single session and it may take only a few treatments to completely resolve. If the problem however is chronic or long term, it may take multiple treatments to bring about a lasting curative resolution.

How often should I be treated?

Typically treatment sessions are scheduled once per week. If the condition is acute and/or painful, it is common to receive treatment 2-3 times per week at the outset. The benefits of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are cumulative and so, as complaints resolve and health improves, clients tend to have sessions far less frequently; usually just to maintain their new found vim and vigor.

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.

What should I wear for the treatment?

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

Does insurance cover acupuncture?

While I do not accept insurance as payment for services, many providers offer out-of-network coverage for acupuncture and alternative health care. I can provide you with an appropriately documented statement to use for reimbursement from your insurance provider.