About Acupuncture

What happens during an acupuncture session?

patient receiving acupuncture

Patient receiving acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through your skin, to various depths and at strategic points , known as “acupoints”.During your first session, we will complete your initial consultation, in which I will ask you many detailed questions related to your health and lifestyle, and you will have the chance to have any questions or concerns answered. Before the acupuncture needles are inserted, you’ll most likely lie down on a treatment table on your back, stomach, or side, depending on which acupuncture points are needed. Only single-use, pre-sterilized, packaged needles are used.   Upon insertion, you may feel a brief, sharp sensation, and once the acupuncture needles are in you might feel sensations such as tingling, pressure, flowing currents, warmth, or coolness. Despite how this sounds, these are usually very relaxing sensations, and in fact, most first time patients who are nervous are pleasantly surprised by how little they feel!  Once the needles are all inserted, you will then rest for anywhere from 15-45 minutes with soft music playing.  Many patients fall asleep, and almost everyone reports feelings of unusual calm, deep relaxation,or even euphoria, after their acupuncture treatments.

It is very common to have electrical stimulation applied to your needles, or other treatments such as Moxibusion, Gua-sha, or cupping (see Tuina link), depending on what you are coming in for.

To schedule an appointment to try acupuncture for yourself, click here: online scheduling page

How many acupuncture treatments do I need?

Acupuncture therapy for non-serious issues typically involves a series of up to 10 treatments, depending on the condition.  Long term or severely acute issues may involve a few such series of treatments, while wellness preventative care would include ongoing regularly spaced treatments.  In general, the first appointments will be scheduled in closer proximity, especially if you are suffering from an acute condition.  This allows you to recover as soon as possible, and also helps to stabilize the balancing effects of the treatment.  Once you start feeling better and symptoms are not recurring as strongly between sessions, your appointments will be spaced with more time in between.  Most patients will also be given an individually prescribed herbal formula which they can take at home, between treatments.  Patients who choose to combine their treatments with herbs tend to respond better and to need less treatment overall, as the herbs provide a powerful balancing and nourishing effect that is supporting and enhancing your acupuncture treatments.

Acute and uncomplicated cases such as the common cold need much less treatment–perhaps only one or two; while severe, chronic, and/or progressive conditions such as MS, Chronic Fatigue, or Parkinson’s will need many more, and one may even want to consider adding them in ongoingly as a regular part of their health care regime.  When this is followed, patient’s dis-eases tend to progress much more slowly, remission periods tend to last much longer, and severity of symptoms is dramatically decreased,…all while energy levels and basic strength and functioning are improved.

How does acupuncture work?

acupuncture meridians and acupuncture points

Qi meridians and acupuncture points

The traditional Chinese theory behind acupuncture as medical treatment is very different from that of Western medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, health results from a harmonious balance between the complementary extremes (yin and yang) of the life force known as Qi. Illness results from an imbalance of these forces.

Qi is believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body, each meridian being associated with an internal organ. The Qi flowing through these meridians is accessible through the more than 350 acupuncture points which are located along these meridians, and which are needled during treatment.  By inserting needles into these points in various combinations, acupuncturists are stimulating and engaging the flow of Qi along that meridian, causing a therapeutic effect.

Scientists have known for decades that everything is energy at its most basic level.  The water we drink, the food we eat, even the chair that you’re sitting on and the computer screen you’re looking at right noware all just energy.  So the Chinese realized thousands of years ago that you can manipulate and harness this energy of the body for therapeutic purposes.

You can think of the needles as being energy conductors.  Just like sticking a metal pin into an electrical socket will cause the electricity, (or “energy”) to flow through the needle and into your body, sticking a needle into one of the body’s own qi currents will engage this energy and cause it to flow in a way it wasn’t before.  And just like blocking the flow of energy, or electricity, going through a cord to a lamp will cause the light to not function, if the energy of an organ is blocked, its function will be impaired also.

What can acupuncture treat?

acupuncture needles painless

Acupuncture needles are extremely thin, rendering them virtually painless

Acupuncture is useful as a stand-alone treatment for many conditions, but it’s also typically combined with other forms of treatment such as herbs, chiropractic, conventional medicine, massage, or physical therapy.  For example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control pain and nausea after surgery.  A bi-polar patient may  be taking western drugs, while also seeing a psychotherapist, and coming to the acupuncturist to help deal with the effects of the medicine, calm her down, and sleep at night.  A man recovering from stroke may be seeing one or more rehabilitative specialists, taking blood pressure medicine to lower his high blood pressure (which caused the stroke), as well as seeing the acupuncturist to increase strength, coordination, and function of the areas of the body affected by the stroke.

In truth, in my extensive experience I have seen
only a handful of patients who have not experienced at least some improvement of their conditions with acupuncture.  Many times, an improvement may even be noticed after the first treatment. Most of my patients who come to me have “tried everything else”, so are greatly relieved to finally find something that helps them. Treatment is especially effective if the treatment plan is followed as recommended and it is combined with herbal therapy.

The World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health now recognize acupuncture to be effective for over 40 common ailments, some of which are listed below.  As more and more research results come in, I think we will begin to understand, as they do in China, that there are very few conditions that do not benefit from acupuncture.

Upper Respiratory Tract
-Acute Sinusitis
-Acute Rhinitis
-Common Cold
-Acute Tonsillitis

Respiratory System

-Acute Bronchitis
-Bronchial Asthma (most effective in children and in patients without complicating diseases)

Disorders of the Eye

-Acute Conjunctivitis
-Central Retinitis
-Myopia (in children)
-Cataracts (without complications)

Gastro-intestinal Disorders
-Spasms of Esophagus and Cardia
-Acute and chronic gastritis
-Gastric hyperacidity
-Chronic duodenal ulcer (pain relief)
-Acute duodenal ulcer (without complications)
-Acute and chronic colitis
-Acute bacillary dysentery

Disorders of the Mouth
-Toothache (post-extraction pain)
-Acute and Chronic Pharyngitis

Neurological and Musculo-skeletal Disorders
-Headache and Migraine
-Trigeminal Neuralgia
-Facial Palsy (early stage, i.e., within three to      six months)
-Pareses (following a stroke)
-Peripheral Neuropathies
-Sequelae of Poliomyelitis (early stage, i.e., within six months)
-Meniere’s Disease
-Neurogenic Bladder Dysfunction
-Nocturnal Enuresis
-Intercosral Neuralgia
-Cervicobrachial Syndrome
-Frozen Shoulder
-Tennis Elbow
-Low Back Pain