FAQ’s

What can acupuncture treat?
I have never had acupuncture before because I am afraid of needles, will it hurt?
How should I prepare for my first visit?
Do you treat children?
How/why does acupuncture work?
Are the needles sterile?
How long does a session usually take?
How many sessions will I need?
What are you sensing when you take my radial pulse?
Why do you look at my tongue?
What is this elusive “Qi” you talk about?

How long do you have to go to school in order to become an acupuncturist?

What can acupuncture treat?
One way to answer this is to point out that acupuncture was the primary medicine in China for roughly five thousand years. Through empirical observation and adaptation to socio-political and climatic changes, acupuncture evolved to treat just about every health concern Chinese culture had to face.
Another way to answer this is to link to the World Health Organization’s list of disease and disorders that are recognized as having been proved through controlled, randomized trials to be be effectively treated by acupuncture.

Acupuncture Today Article (including WHO list)

I have never had acupuncture before because I am afraid of needles, will it hurt?
This is a common and logical concern, and one that we address often in our clinic. The most important thing that you need to know about acupuncture needles is that they are nowhere near the gauge or thickness of the hypodermic needles that you are used to at the doctor’s office. They are close to hairline thin and most of the time you do not feel them going in at all. Sometimes you will feel an aching or heavy sensation around the point where the needle was inserted. Some people say they can feel “energy” start moving through their body as each needle goes in. The most common sensation people experience is a deep sense of relaxation after the needles are in.

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How should I prepare for my first visit?

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Loose jeans, sweatpants or leggings are fine – skinny leg pants – not so much.
  • If you don’t have time to download and fill out the intake paperwork on the homepage of this website, please come in 15 minutes before your initial appointment time to fill it out.
  • Please make sure you have had at least a light snack within 3 hours of your appointment, it is not recommended to receive acupuncture on an empty stomach. It is also not recommended to receive treatment after a big meal.
  • Please do not wear heavy perfumes or oils on the day of your appointment as the acupuncturist or other patients may be allergic to them.
  • Although not always possible, you might want to make sure you have some time to relax after your treatment.

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Do you treat children?

Yes, we treat children but require that you sign a consent form for them. Children often take to and respond to acupuncture very well. We recommend that you bring your child or children with you to observe your treatments at least once before their first treatment so that they see that the needles are not painful. Once they see you relax, they tend to be comfortable with the idea of receiving treatment.

How/why does acupuncture work?

The million dollar question!

The short answer:

In the simplest terms, the goal of acupuncture is to restore the body’s innate ability to heal itself by facilitating homeostatic balance.

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The long answer:

Essentially, acupuncture works by determining through Chinese Medical diagnoses where the body is imbalanced and under-functioning due to a lack of proper and healthy circulation to certain areas of the body. Clearly, parts of the body cannot function optimally when they are deprived of healthy oxygenated blood, lymphatic drainage and proper nerve supply. A clear example is when you have a tight muscle. A tight muscle may go into spasm for a variety of reasons but once it is in spasm it hinders proper circulation of fluids to the muscle, therefore depriving it of much needed nutrients and detoxification. The muscle starts to ache or cause pain and in some cases impede movement. If you then release the tension of that muscle, you allow the free flow of fluids to the muscle and it is allowed to relax and function properly and you experience relief of your symptoms. This is what we are doing with the needles both on a physical and systemic level. We are taught how to influence blood flow to and from different areas of the body depending on what is needed for that area by the type of needle manipulation we use. Healthy circulation throughout the body allows it to have at its disposal all it needs to heal tissue and function as best as it is capable of functioning.

Acupuncture also works on the central nervous system by triggering the release of neurotransmitters once the needles are inserted. In studies it has been found that there is a release of Dopamine, Serotonin and endorphins when acupuncture needles are inserted into the body. These neurotransmitters act on the CNS causing a sensation of well being and relaxation. This effect, along with the increase of circulation to the head and neck can greatly relieve anxiety, stress and depression. It has been applied in the military for symptoms of PTSD and for help with symptoms of withdrawal from substance abuse.

For a detailed list of references, please click here.

To read a concise timeline of the history of Chinese Medicine click here.

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Are the needles sterile?

Yes. Acupuncture needles are sterilized, individually packaged and disposed of after each treatment.

How long does a session usually take?

Both the clinic treatments and private treatments usually last about an hour, the benefit of the clinic setting is that patients have a chance to rest on the table for a longer time than in a private treatment.

For first time patients it is a good idea to leave at least an hour and a half for your treatment as we need to do an initial intake interview before the treatment.

How many sessions will I need?

This is determined on a case by case basis. For acute conditions you will usually need to come in for a short duration of treatments. For chronic, long-term issues it can take longer for the issue to improve greatly or resolve. During your first treatment we will discuss a recommended treatment plan with you.

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What are you sensing when you take my radial pulse and why do you take it for a longer time than a western doctor, are you having a hard time finding my pulse?

The short answer:

No, your pulse is there, we are feeling the integrity of the circulation of Qi and blood through the channels and organ systems of the body, this takes more time than the pulse taking of a western MD.

The long answer:
The radial pulse diagnosis that we use in Chinese medicine is a very complex system that has been developed for over two-thousand years. At different times in history pulses were also taken and compared with pulses at different locations of the body. The carotid artery(neck), descending aortic pulse (abdomen), the femoral artery (inner thigh),posterior tibial artery (inner ankle) and a branch of the temporal artery that can be felt at the temple were some of the more commonly used pulses for diagnosis.

Over time the changes in culture and rules regarding modesty narrowed the use of the pulse to the wrist. Practitioners of Chinese medicine had to become adept at feeling the status of the flow of Qi and blood in the body only at the radial pulse.

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Why do you look at my tongue?
When we look at your tongue we are looking at the size, width, coating, coating color and moisture on the tongue. We also look at the veins underneath your tongue. This tells us about your body’s ability to digest food, its hormonal balance, the circulation of blood (under the tongue), and whether you have too much heat, cold or dampness in your body.
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What is this elusive “Qi” you talk about?

Qi is generally described as “life force” Or “Vitality” but is often mistranslated as “energy”. It has a much broader application in the Chinese language. As most characters in the Chinese languages do not have one single definition as they change their meaning relative to other characters. There are multiple definitions of Qi in the Chinese language dictionary. In fact one of my teachers who is fluent in Mandarin spent ten plus minutes translating different definitions of Qi! So you see how difficult it may be to translate it into one word. Below I give an idea of how Qi is better translated in terms of its relationship to Chinese Medicine. It is also used in many different definitions of objects that have nothing directly to do with the human body.

A couple of basic examples of the myriad definitions of Qi:

Air, gas, vapor
Breath, spirit, morale
Influence
To provoke
Angry or indignant
Smells or odors

For a more scientific explanation you can read an article by Yin Luo, who holds a PHD in physics and wrote an excellent in depth article explaining Qi and how it can be explained from a western scientific viewpoint: What Is Qi? Can We See Qi?

To get an even better idea I will give you the understanding of how Qi is used in relationship to the human body. Qi manifests on different levels of our anatomy and is defined by its structure and function.

The following are some descriptions of how Qi is understood and used in Chinese Medicine.

Wei Qi(defensive Qi)

The lightest form of Qi; its function is to provide the first line of defense in the body. In structure it is our skin, lungs, and nose. The integrity of our Wei Qi determines how well we fight off external pathogens such as colds and allergies. Sometimes when a person has a chronic internal pathogen that the body is unable to fight off, Wei Qi may try to solve this by moving internally where it is not meant to function and cause an autoimmune reaction because it inadvertently attacks the body as well.

On another level, the integrity of our Wei Qi can be dependent on how well we handle the external challenges of daily life, a person yelling at you or a sudden noise can be another form of external attack.

Ying Qi

This is our secondary level of defense, in structure it is represents our blood, red blood cells, lymphatic system, hormones and most of our organs. In function it represents our second line of defense such as mucus, saliva, sweat, tears, stomach acids, and intestinal integrity.

Ying Qi is involved with our emotions and psyche and is responsible for storing them. In fact our spirit and mind (Shen) is said to reside in our heart and our blood. The implication here is that our mental-emotional state directly influences our health.

Jing Qi (ancestral Qi)

This is the life force we inherit from our ancestors. In structure it would be our DNA, bone marrow, brain and the body’s sexual secretions. In function it is the precursor to blood, similar to how marrow is responsible for the production of red blood cells in western physiology. It provides us with the drive and ambition to survive, it provides our youth, and is likened to a battery pack that has a finite shelf-life. How efficiently these batteries work is determined not only by the strength of the Jing Qi passed on by our ancestors but also how well we take care of ourselves. Stress, trauma, pain, and poor diet can all contribute to the premature loss of Jing.

How long do you have to go to school to become an acupuncturist?

Most acupuncturists in the US must have an associates-level degree before entering a Master’s degree program in acupuncture school. Depending on whether Chinese herbology is included in their training, acupuncturists will complete their program in 3-4 years. Along with Chinese medical theory and practice, acupuncturists are trained in western pathology, biochemistry, neuro-pathology, anatomy & physiology, patho-physiology, nutrition and the basics of clinical counseling. They are also required to hold current CPR and First-Aid Certificates.

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