FAQs about acupuncture treatment.

Here is a list of our patient’s most common queries.  If  you have any other questions feel free to contact us directly.

What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the placement of hair-thin needles into various locations in the body. These locations are known as acupuncture points.

How Does Acupuncture Work?
The ancient Chinese believed that the body was first and foremost a system of energy, what they called Chi, or Qi.They mapped out grids along the body, what they considered pathways of energy, which they called meridians.It was through these meridians that they felt the Qi flowed. The acupuncture points are along these meridians. It was thought that by putting acupuncture needles into these points, the Qi would be stimulated to flow better, and the person’s health would improve. Thousands of years of clinical work have shown that the Chinese were right!

Is there any scientific evidence on how acupuncture works?
Since acupuncture has made its way into the West, there has been no shortage of research to prove what the mechanism is that allows acupuncture to work. Some of the mechanisms that have been discovered are:

Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins and other opiods
Acupuncture stimulates the secretion of hormones and other brain chemicals such as serotonin
White blood cells migrate to the areas where the acupuncture needles are inserted
Acupuncture changes the pattern of blood flow through the body
Real Time MRI Brain scans on people having acupuncture have shown certain segments of the brain “light up,” signaling that the brain has been activated to make a positive response

Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Because the needles are hair-thin, generally you will not feel a thing, or have a sensation similar to a mosquito biting. Once the needle is inserted you may feel a dull ache, similar to a tooth ache, but in the area of your body receiving treatment. This is called “De Qi” in Chinese, or the “Qi Sensation.”

After a treatment, especially treatments for certain pain conditions, you may feel a soreness in the muscle, akin to a “post work-out soreness. This goes away in a few hours or 24 at most.

If you are sensitive, please let me know. It is always possible to do a very light Japanese style treatment in which you do not feel the needles at all. This is very valuable and perfectly appropriate in many cases.

How Will I Feel After My Treatment?

People almost always feel quite nice, as if they have had a deep profound rest, very relaxed, in in much less pain or stress. Somewhat like how you feel after a good massage.

How Many Treatments Does It Take?
Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in general, is understood to be a process. It is trying to stimulate the body’s own natural healing capabilities. Some people respond quickly, and others take more time. Common sense would dictate that the longer a person has had a condition, the longer it might take for it to reverse, though every so often, a person with a seemingly intractable problem responds very quickly.

You should plan on a course of from three to six to ten treatments to either effect a cure, relieve symptoms totally, or partially. 90% of the time we will see some very positive response before three treatments, and if not, I rarely ask you to continue.

Are There Side Effects to Acupuncture?
Acupuncture, when practiced by a licensed professional, is generally safe and free of any side effects.

What’s the Difference Between a Licensed Acupuncturist and an M.D. That Does Acupuncture?
There is a big difference. A licensed acupuncturist has at least 3,000 hours of training in acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, along with courses in Western Medicine, Anatomy, Physiology, etc, and completely understands the levels of sophistication of Chinese Medicine, and is well equipped to treat any problem using Chinese Medicine.

A physician that does acupuncture is rarely a licensed acupuncturist, but is certified to practice acupuncture. They undergo 300 hours of training, some of which is done by watching videos. They are generally trained in just the very basics of acupuncture, and sometimes not even that. Having said that, I personally know some M.D.’s with very sophisticated and advanced training in acupuncture, who are very dedicated practitioners that I trust completely. Usually they restrict their practices to pain. They are rarely trained in herbal medicine.

Does Insurance Cover Acupuncture?
Some do – it varies from company to company. Check with your carrier to see. If you have American Specialty Health , I am a member of your plan. Many insurance companies, like Kaiser have contracts with ASH.

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