Frequently Asked Questions
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a proven system of treating the whole person using thin, tiny needles to stimulate the body to repair itself. Acupuncture originated in China over 3,000 years ago and has spread throughout the world to develop unique styles of acupuncture such as Japanese, Korean and Five Element acupuncture. It came to the United States in the 1970’s when a journalist from the New York Times, James Reston, wrote of his successful operation and experience with acupuncture in a Chinese hospital.
Does Acupuncture Work?
Yes, acupuncture as a branch of Oriental Medicine, has been utilized to help heal literally billions of people with a wide variety of symptoms, conditions, and diseases. You don’t need to “believe" in acupuncture for it to work; animals treated with acupuncture don’t “believe” in it.
How does Acupuncture Work?
According to Western medicine: Acupuncture can stimulate the release of natural opioids, (endorphins) which modulate pain receptors in your body. It can also facilitate the release of neurotransmitters and hormones which regulate pain and mood. It increases blood flow to the area where needles are inserted to support a homeostatic response.
According to Chinese medicine: Acupuncture releases blockages of Qi throughout the body with the stimulation by tiny needles of specific acupuncture points on the body that follow meridians. Qi is translated as a life force energy and meridians are pathways that relate to specific organs in the body and where the energy of Qi travels, like blood vessels carrying blood to provide nutrients throughout the body.
How long does an acupuncture treatment last?
There are two answers to this question. The session itself will last anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes depending upon the practitioner and what service you choose. After the treatment, acupuncture effects usually last 2 to 3 days depending upon the person. In the beginning this means getting acupuncture twice a week is more effective as the beneficial effects are cumulative.
As symptoms decline and overall health is improved sessions are reduced to every few weeks and maintenance is usually every 4 to 6 weeks.
Is getting Acupuncture painful?
Generally, not. Needles used in Western medicine are small tubes to either take blood or other fluids in or out of the body and so are much larger than an acupuncture needle. Approximately 20 to 50 acupuncture needles can fit in a small needle, (tube), used in western medicine.
These tiny acupuncture needles are used to stimulate an energy flow. If a needle is used on the ear (auricular acupuncture), or feet & hands there can be a slight pricking sensation that dissipates within seconds. Sometimes there is an ache or tingling sensation, and these are usually considered a good sign of energy moving.
Are acupuncture needles sterile and safe?
Acupuncture needles are sterile and only used the one time when treating you. The needles come in individual use packages and are FDA regulated devices that are disposed of according to biohazard guidelines. All acupuncturists also take a course called Clean Needle Technique which details the OSHA regulations and guidelines that are adhered to for insuring a safe environment. These guidelines are strictly followed to protect you from any infection.
What are the side effects of Acupuncture?
I love answering this question because the primary side effects are increased feelings of being calm and relaxed, better clarity of thought, (usually because your more relaxed), and depending upon the symptoms addressed improved sleep, digestion, pain relief, (many types of pain, physical and emotional) and reduced anxiety and/or depression. Now who wouldn't want those side effects?
There is also the possibility that some bruising can occur at needle sites, depending upon the person being treated and their overall health, a dull ache sensation that goes away within minutes, (this is usually a good sign), fatigue, usually resolved within 24 hours. Fatigue can be a sign of an underlying imbalance and the need for acupuncture or changes in diet and lifestyle as well.
Here is a link to a Huffington Post article that discusses side effects in more detail:
What training do acupuncturists have?
A licensed acupuncturist, (LAc) goes through a Masters degree program of 3 to 4 years with more than 3,000 hours of training. They must pass 3 to 4 national board exams to become licensed, depending upon the state regulations. Acupuncturists are also certified by the NCCAOM, (National Certification for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) which regulates requirements on a national basis and develops the board exams.
Pre-med science courses are required at most schools in addition to the training in Oriental Medicine. Acupuncturists are licensed by the individual states medical board and are required to have ongoing training throughout their career. Acupuncturists are also trained in herbs, nutrition and diet based on the concepts of Chinese medicine
How do I choose an acupuncturist?
Just as you choose your western medicine doctor, when you look for the designation MD and a person you feel confident in and comfortable with discussing your health concerns; you look for and acupuncturist with the designation LAc and an approach that gives you confidence in their approach to your health concerns.
Here is a link to the NCCAOM directory to help you find an acupuncturist in your area: http://www.nccaom.org/find-a-practitioner-directory/