What is Acupuncture


Frequently Asked Acupuncture Questions…

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of healing known to mankind. It originated in China nearly five thousand years ago.

How does it work?

Chinese medicine recognizes that there is a vital force (called Chi energy) in the body which controls the working of every organ and system. This energy must flow freely and in the correct strength and quality if the body is to function correctly. In all illness, the flow of vital energy is impaired. Acupuncture directly affects this energy at special points located on the energy pathways (meridians). When gently inserted into these acupuncture points, the needles produce various effects. According to the manipulation of the needles, energy can be drawn to a deficient organ, an excess dispersed, blockages removed, and so on, according to the individual need of the patient. As the balance and harmony of the vital energy is restored, symptoms of illness disappear. If all of the functions and organs of the body are working properly and harmoniously, there can not be sickness within the body or mind. Sometimes, points are heated with a special herb, Artemesia Vulgaris Latiflora (called moxa), which resembles a brown colored wool. Usually, a tiny cone of moxa is placed on the skin over an acupuncture point, ignited, and removed when the heat is felt. Like needles, moxa revitalizes, reinforces, invigorates, and restores balance and harmony to the vital energy.

Are the needles sterile?

Yes. Only the highest quality stainless steel disposable needles are used. These come in pre sterilized sealed packets and are discarded after use.

Does Acupuncture hurt?

Because the needles are about the thinness of a hair, insertion is often hardly felt at all. There may be an occasional sharpness or a dull ache, but these sensations are only momentary and far less unpleasant than a western injection.

What happens during the initial examination?

The initial examination includes a thorough medical and personal history, description of complaints, a review of the functioning of the systems of the body, and a physical examination. This includes the taking of the Chinese pulses [usually felt at the wrist] from which I can determine the state of the energy in each of the major organs and functions. Using the diagnostic tools of classical Chinese medicine, which include analyzing a patients predominant facial color, vocal sound, emotion, and odor, I assess the condition of the Chi energy and determine the underlying cause of the condition. From all of this information, a treatment plan is developed, unique to the individual patient.

How many treatments are necessary and how often?

This varies from person to person and one cannot be guided by the experience of other patients. Much depends on the severity of the disease, how long the patient has suffered from it, as well as the lifestyle and other factors contributing to it. Typically, treatments are given once per week for the first six to eight weeks. As the patient improves, visits are reduced to once every ten days, two weeks, once a month, and so on. As classical acupuncture is a preventative system of medicine, as well as curative, it is advisable for healthy patients to come in periodically for checkups and maintenance, as the pulses can reveal if anything is going wrong in the body long before it manifests itself as a visible symptom. Most of us don’t wait for our cars to break down before taking them in to be checked. We should not pay less attention to our bodies!

How long does a treatment take and what actually happens?

Traditional Chinese Medicine Appointments are generally scheduled for one hour. Prior to each treatment, patients have ample time to talk about how they’ve been, how they feel, and what’s happening in their lives, which is essential information for me to determine exactly the treatment that is called for at that time. The pulses are read and moxa and/or needles are applied. The response to the treatment will be assessed by reading the pulses. Often, after treatment, the patient will spend a few minutes simply relaxing, lying on the treatment table, to allow the energetic changes to settle in. Dietary and other lifestyle recommendations will be discussed at appropriate times throughout treatment.


Can acupuncture treatment help with non-physical problems?

Yes, indeed. I must emphasize that classical acupuncture views the body, mind, and spirit as a whole. All physical disorders will cause an imbalance in the mental outlook and spirit of a person. This may manifest as depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, and the like. Mental disturbances, stress, and emotional conflict will cause effect in the physical body such as insomnia, lack of appetite, fatigue, menstrual disorders, migraines, susceptibility to disease, aches, pains, and any labeled disease one can imagine. Any imbalance must manifest on all levels, all part of the whole. All classical acupuncture treatments aim to restore the harmony of body, mind, and spirit. Thus, the physical and non-physical sides of a patient are treated together.

What about medication and other medical care?

Classical acupuncture may certainly be used in cooperation with other medical care. It is important to me to know what medication a patient is taking as this is taken into account in the planning and assessing of treatment. As acupuncture treatment progresses, the need for certain drugs may well decrease and it may be appropriate to reduce or discontinue medication, but this should be done with the cooperation and approval of the prescribing doctor. For medical emergencies, ones personal physician or an emergency service facility should be contacted.

Will acupuncture benefit someone who is very skeptical?

Yes. The healing process will not be affected in any way by the patients skeptical attitude. Remember it works on animals too and your dog does not understand the word placebo.

Is acupuncture effective on children?

There is no age limit. Often, young children respond quite well to moxa alone or with a very minimal use of needles. There are also special pediatric acupuncture devices which merely tap the skin surface and are quite painless.

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