How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture works by inserting needles into specific points of the body.  These points lie along the  meridians, or channels that run throughout and over the body.  Meridians are responsible for the movement of the body’s energy, or qi.   Whenever there is a disturbance of the energy in the body, pain, disease or discomfort may occur. Acupuncture works by regulating the energy flow and function with the use of needles to stimulate and balance the qi along the meridians.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is safe when practiced by a skilled and licensed acupuncturist.  Acupuncture needles are packaged into sterile packages that are “one time” use only.  They are disposed of immediately after use.  The practitioner uses Clean Needle Technique which is required by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture to ensure safety and to prevent infection and cross contamination.

Does acupuncture hurt?

You may experience a sensation with acupuncture that has been described as numb, tingling, heavy, itchy, referring or just “weird”.  This sensation is the feeling of the needle tapping into the qi to work with the body to bring back balance.  This feeling is actually encouraged.  It is this sensation that initiates the healing process.  If you experience any pain or a feeling of intolerable discomfort, tell your practitioner.

What can I expect with an acupuncture visit?

When you come in for an initial treatment, you will have a consultation with your practitioner.  This includes looking at your tongue and feeling your pulse. This consultation determines the very unique and individualized diagnosis and treatment plan specifically for you.  The consultation is generally one hour.  Depending on what type of treatment is utilized, the treatment typically lasts about ½ hour.  If acupuncture is used, the needles are inserted and left in the points for about twenty minutes.  Many people find this time very relaxing and refreshing.  After twenty minutes, the needles are taken out.

What are the other modalities in Chinese medicine and why are they used?

Aside from just needles, Chinese medicine consists of other healing modalities.

  • Herbal formulas are used and prescribed either alone or with acupuncture to supplement treatment.  Many herbs are safe and can be used along with western medications. It is important to inform your practitioner of any medications you are taking or are allergic to.
  • Cupping is a method that uses cups  that are mainly placed on the back, but can be placed on other parts of the body.  A flame is put under the cup to create a vacuum so that it can be applied to the skin.  This suction is used for various reasons, but pain management and muscle relaxation is most common.  Different techniques with cupping may be used.
  • Moxibustion or Moxa is an herb or a combination of herbs that is used as as an exterior treatment.  The smoke created from the burning of a moxa roll or a moxa bunch.
  • Electro-therapy is the use of electrical stimulation.  Leads are placed on needles and stimulation is applied.  This sends a constant pulse to the point so that stronger stimulation is achieved.
  • Gua Sha is a form of cutaneous pressure applied in strokes with a smooth edged tool.  Used for many things, this is a very gentle but useful modality.
How many treatments will I need?

Everyone responds differently to treatments.  A typical treatment course is about 6-10 treatments, but everyone is different.  With each visit, an assessment of progress will be done and at that time it will be evaluated if more treatments are necessary.

What are some of the conditions that Chinese medicine can treat?

Gynecological / Genitourinary Disorders:

  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
  • Irregular, Heavy or Painful Menstruation
  • Endometriosis
  • Menopause
  • Fibroids
  • Chronic Bladder Infection
  • Complications in Pregnancy
  • Morning Sickness
  • Kidney Stones
  • Impotence
  • Infertility in Men and Women
  • Sexual Dysfunction

Emotional and Psychological Disorders

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Stress

Musculoskeletal and Neurological Disorders

  • Arthritis
  • Neuralgia
  • Sciatica
  • Back Pain
  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Stiff Neck
  • BellsPalsy
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Stroke
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Sprains
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Shingles

Gastrointestinal Disorders

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Spastic colon
  • Colitis
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Food Allergies
  • Ulcers
  • Gastritis
  • Abdominal Bloating
  • Hemorrhoids
Is seeing a chiropractor for acupuncture the same as seeing an acupuncturist?

Both acupuncturists and chiropractors generally go to school for fours years after completing their undergraduate program to study what they are specializing in – acupuncture or chiropractic.  The majority of the schooling is solely focused on either acupuncture or chiropractic.  Both healing systems are fantastic ways of treating issues all naturally, but the two healing systems may approach treatments, specifically acupuncture, differently.  Chiropractors generally practice acupuncture as a supplement to their treatments, so needles are used for pain management mainly using local pain points.  Acupuncturists on the other hand, tend to look at the entire body and use needles to not only treat pain locally, but also address any other issues the body is experiencing.  Acupuncture is practiced as a whole body medicine.

Acupuncture school involves extensive hours and practice of the theory of Chinese medicine and how certain things may affect the body internally and externally.  Acupuncturists tend to have a deeper knowledge of the internal medicine that acupuncture can be practiced as, as opposed to just a local pain management medicine.

Are herbs safe to take?

Herbs are generally safe to take.  Allergies, all medications being taken, and overall constitution are considered before any herbal formulas are prescribed.  Each herbal formula is specifically formulated for each individual person so sharing herbal formulas with family or friends is not advised.

Each visit a follow up with be done to assess any changes in symptoms to make sure that the formulas are still properly prescribed for that person.   Because herbal formulas are unique to each person, greater changes and success may happen week to week.  It is important to follow up and evaluate week to week what each person is experiencing. A formula prescribed one week may change the following week.

How do herbs work?

Herbs work due to their specific healing properties.  According to symptoms people may be experiencing, herbal formulas are prescribed to specifically address symptoms to each person.  For example, ginger has a warm energy and is pungent in flavor.  Consuming ginger for an upset stomach gently settles the stomach and can warm us in the winter.  Too much ginger can be spicy and make us sweat.  Each herb has its own flavor and energetic property.

How can Chinese medicine can help with fertility challenges?

Chinese medicine is a very effective medicine at treating women’s health.  Fertility starts here.  The combination of acupuncture and herbs are used to quickly, effectively, and naturally bring the body into a state of wellness. Whether used alone or in conjunction with assisted reproductive therapy, Chinese medicine can bring your body to a greater state of balance. By doing so, the body is more capable of getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and supporting you and baby – both during and after pregnancy.  When our bodies work at their optimal performance, they can do almost anything!

What if I was diagnosed with “Undetermined/Unexplained Infertility”?

This is where Chinese medicine steps in. Chinese medicine works on treating symptoms specific to you. If a diagnosis was not made, acupuncture and herbs are used to treat your presenting symptoms. For example, many women have PMS. Symptoms might include, cramping, painful periods, clotting, heavy flow and breast tenderness. With acupuncture and herbs, these symptoms are then treated and regulated. Many times these symptoms improve, and it is these women who then get pregnant quickly thereafter. The flow of energy was not flowing correctly, therefore creating symptoms. Symptom indicate something is off. Once corrected, pregnancy becomes easier to achieve.

Other than fertility challenges, what other women’s health issues does Chinese medicine treat?

Examples of disorders treated with Chinese medicine that should be addressed before trying to conceive or causing problems with successfully conceiving are:

  • Annovulation – absence of ovulation
  • Mittlesmirtz – pain with ovulation
  • Amennorhea – absence of period
  • Dysmenorrohea – painful periods
  • Irregular cycles – long, short, or infrequent cycles
  • Clotting with periods
  • PMS symptoms = mood changes, digestive changes, fatigue, cramps, breast tenderness, headaches and migraines
  • Spotting or abnormal bleeding
  • Frequent or chronic yeast infections, discharge
  • Frequent or chronic UTI’s
  • Fibroids
  • Endometriosis or Adenomyosis
  • PCOS – Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Vulvovaginitis
  • Infertility
  • Uterine or anal prolapse
  • Chronic miscarriage
  • Hemorrhoids
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