What happens during an acupuncture session?
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. I will do a pulse and tongue diagnosis that helps me determine the underlying cause to all your symptoms.
Only single-use, pre-sterilized, packaged needles are used. Upon insertion, you may feel a brief, pinching 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. 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 15-40 minutes with soft music playing. Many patients fall asleep, and almost everyone reports feelings of unusual calm, deep relaxation, or even euphoria, during and after their acupuncture treatments.
Doing pulse and tongue diagnosis during acupuncture treatment
How does acupuncture work?
The traditional Chinese theory behind acupuncture as medical treatment is very different from that of Western medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, health is a result of 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 now are all just densely compacted 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.
How many acupuncture treatments do I need?
There is really no way to perfectly predict this, since everyone responds at differing rates, and so many factors such as lifestyle and stress, as well as duration and severity of the condition; affect response rates.
However, in general acupuncture therapy for mild symptoms typically involves a series of up to 10 treatments, depending on the condition. Severely acute issues involve more assertive treatment over a longer period of time, while wellness preventative care would include ongoing regularly spaced treatments at whatever frequency the patient notices keeps them feeling great; perhaps monthly, or every 2 or 3 months.
A general rule of thumb is that the longer a condition has been going on, and the more severe, the more treatment will be needed. However, if a person responds faster than predicted, we change the treatment plan to back off on treatment frequency sooner than expected. The initial appointments are always scheduled in closer proximity if possible, especially if the patient is suffering from an acute condition. This allows them to recover as soon as possible, and also helps to stabilize the balancing effects of the treatment. Once they start feeling better and symptoms are not recurring as strongly between sessions, their appointments are spaced with more time in between.
Because of the types of conditions I treat – which typically require the inclusion of herbs to get the hoped for result – my patients are almost always prescribed an individually customized herbal formula which they can take at home, between treatments. Patients who 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.
What can acupuncture treat?
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. Many of my patients who come in 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 as well as recommended lifestyle changes.