Information About Acupuncture
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the gentle insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body. This
process stimulates movement of energy within the body, allowing natural healing to take place.
These points are selected based on years of training acupuncturists receive based on
over 3,000 years of experience in China.
Acupuncture helps to prevent illness by improving the overall functioning of the body's immune
and organ systems. Acupuncture is helpful for:
- Treating existing illnesses and injuries.
- Preventing both recurrence of illnesses and new illness.
- Improving overall health.
Acupuncture originated in China over 3,000 years ago. It is part of the holistic system of
healing known as Traditional Chinese Medicine ("TCM").
How does Acupuncture work?
Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory
The Classical Chinese explanation is that energy (Qi) flows in channels (meridians) throughout
the body and over its surfaces. These channels are rivers of energy which are referred to as
the network of meridians the internal organs are connected to certain areas and parts of the
body including the muscles, bones, joints, and also other organs.
The Chinese believe that health is a manifestation of balance, both within the body itself and
between the body and the external environment. When the body is internally balanced and in
harmony with the external environment, Qi flows smoothly through the meridians to nourish the
organs and tissues. If an obstruction occurs in one of the meridians, the Qi is disrupted and
cannot flow properly. When the Qi cannot flow smoothly or is forced to flow in the opposite
direction, the body's innate balance is disrupted and illness results.
Acupuncture points are the specific points on the meridians where the Qi is both concentrated
and accessible. Acupuncture engages the Qi by inserting needles at these specific points,
the goal being to restore the proper flow of Qi. As the body regains its natural balance,
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.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates acupuncture needles as it does other
medical devices such as surgical scalpels and hypodermic syringes. Acupuncture needles must
be manufactured according to single-use standards of sterility.
Does it hurt?
People experience the needling sensation differently. Acupuncture needles are rarely described as painful, and can be quickly
adjusted if the patient feel's any discomfort. If any unpleasant sensation is experienced during insertion,
it is often compared to a mosquito bite and disappears very quickly. Once the needles are
inserted, they may be manipulated to obtain a mild "Qi" sensation. This is how an acupuncturist engages the energy and biochemical responses in your body in order to balance it. Often people describe their
sensations as warming, heavy, numb or tingling. I take great care to make my patients very
comfortable so that they can relax while the needles are in place. The more you can relax
during an acupuncture treatment, the better the results. Many people even fall asleep
Following treatment it is common to feel a tremendous sense of relaxation and calm.
Do I have to believe in it for it to work?
No. Acupuncture works whether or not you think it will. Acupuncture is even used successfully on
animals and children. They do not understand or believe in the process yet they get better
anyway. Of course a positive attitude helps with any type of therapy but it is not necessary to believe
in acupuncture (or to feel it working) for it to work.
Since positive expectations and belief in a particular therapy help to increase therapeutic
results, I encourage you to raise any concerns or doubts you may have about acupuncture
and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I'd like to help you to better understand acupuncture and
Traditional Chinese Medicine so that you may have the most positive healing experience possible.
You are invited to contact me today, and I will personally respond to any questions or comments promptly.
How quickly can I expect to feel better?
In general, I tell my patients they should start to feel the benefits from acupuncture in 2-3
treatments. If the problem is acute, sometimes improvement is felt after 1 treatment, and may
only need 4-6 treatments to resolve. If the problem is chronic and long term, it may take many treatments to help resolve.
How often should I be treated?
Typically I treat patients once a week. If the condition is acute and painful, I may want to
do treatments 2-3 times per week for the first couple of weeks. The benefits of acupuncture
treatments tend to hold longer as you receive treatments, so what typically happens is that
my patients start to need to see me less and less, so after a while they come periodically for maintenance.
Does acupuncture always help?
No, but it usually does. If you do not feel any benefit after 4-6 treatments, then acupuncture
may not work for you.
Does insurance cover acupuncture?
Some insurance does. You need to check with your insurance plan. I do not file insurance claims, but will give you a receipt you can submit to your
insurance company for reimbursement.
Acupuncture and Modern Science
To the human body, acupuncture needles are a physical stimulus. In Western science, a stimulus
is defined as a detectable change in either the external environment or within the body itself.
When the body detects change, it produces a response. Although acupuncture is not yet fully
understood by Western science, with modern technology scientists can now actually begin to
"see" the body's response to acupuncture. For example, using an MRI (a very sophisticated x-ray),
researchers have shown that when a needle is inserted at specific acupuncture points on the
body, corresponding changes occur in the brain.
In the West, acupuncture is most well-known for its ability to relieve pain so the majority of
research thus far has been done in this area. Acupuncture points are now believed to stimulate
the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release pain-relieving chemicals into
the muscles, spinal cord and brain. Acupuncture may also stimulate other chemicals to be
released by the brain, including hormones that influence the self-regulating system of the body.
Oriental medicine has been around for thousands of years, and has provided us with a
unique and holistic approach to help prevent and treat disease. Western science and Traditional
Chinese Medicine ultimately rely on the body's natural healing ability to maintain health and
protect against disease. Both have the same goal of helping a person stay healthy. Western
science tends to use drugs and surgery as needed. Acupuncturists tend to use gentle needling
and herbs. A combination of both systems creates an ideal environment of health and healing.