What is acupuncture? How does it work?

Acupuncture is part of a system of healing that originated about 5,000 years ago in China. It is based on knowledge of a system of meridians and energy flow that traverse the body - from the head to the fingers and through the torso to the toes - and from the surface of the body to deep into the interior. These meridians carry Qi ("energy") and Blood. At different locations on each meridian, this energy comes to the surface, like water bubbling up in a well. These are the acupuncture points. By assessing the state of the body’s Qi: through pulse diagnosis, tongue diagnosis, questioning,  or palpating the body, a skilled acupuncturist can determine where the imbalances are. By inserting acupuncture needles at points related to these imbalances, this flow can be regulated.

What conditions can acupuncture help?

Allergies, Asthma, Sinusitis, Headaches,
TMJ, Back Pain, Sciatica, Musculoskeletal Problems,
Insomnia, Anxiety, Dizziness, Depression,
High Blood Pressure, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, 
Indigestion, Constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gastritis, Hemorrhoids,
High Blood Pressure,
Post-Operative Recovery, Palliative Care

Women’s Health: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Menstrual Irregularities, Menstrual Pain, Menopause, Infertility, Pregnancy, Morning Sickness, Childbirth, Lactation Difficulties, Postpartum, Ovarian and Uterine Problems

Men’s Health: Prostate, Infertility, Impotence.

Preventative Health: Prevention, Stress Management, Wellness,

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture is said to be pain free, however it is not without sensation. The needles are very thin: thinner than a human hair, and are sharp. Often there is no sensation on insertion, or a brief sensation. Once the needles are in, you may feel heaviness, numbness or tingling at the point. We don’t think of this as pain … this is the Qi arriving at the point. However, if at any time a needle feels sharp or burning or uncomfortable, please inform your acupuncturist so that the needle can be repositioned.

Most clients find acupuncture treatments very relaxing and revitalizing!

What can I expect during an acupuncture visit? 

Your practitioner will ask you many questions - both about what brings you in for treatment as well as your past history. Sometimes it will seem that you are being asked many seemingly unrelated questions. There are several important reasons for this: For one, in Chinese medicine, being exposed to a virus, living in a damp basement, experiencing a shock or loss , overworking - are all equal causes of illness and imbalance. And, unlike in western medicine, where a patient might go to a primary care physician with headaches, digestive complaints, knee pain and insomnia and get sent to three or four different specialists, an acupuncturist will investigate more deeply - wanting to know about the location of the headaches, what makes them better or worse, the location of the knee pain, more about diet, emotional stress, etc. and will come up with a particular energetic diagnosis that encompasses all presenting complaints and more.

An acupuncturist may also look at your tongue, feel your pulse, and/or palpate your abdomen (noting temperature, areas of tightness, etc.). Based on all of this, and more, a treatment plan will be developed and an acupuncture treatment will be given.

What should I do before my acupuncture visit?

On the day of treatment, 

  • avoid wearing makeup and perfumes, colognes or other scented products so the acupuncturist can assess your complexion and natural body odor.
  • Wear loose clothing if possible.
  • Avoid consuming foods that will color your tongue 
  • Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee, soda, chocolate) and alcohol for about 4 hours before your treatment so an accurate pulse reading can be taken
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal, and don’t come hungry. A light meal or snack is fine.
  • If you take lots of medications or supplements, bring a list.

How soon will I notice an improvement? How many treatments do I need?

Occasionally, immediate relief is felt. The treatment continues after the needles are removed so that changes can emerge over the days following a treatment.
Most often a series of treatments are necessary to resolve issues. And the more chronic the complaint, the longer the course of treatment will likely be necessary.
Often, patients report improvements in other areas of their lives even as treatment for the main presenting complaint continues.
Usually treatment once weekly for 4-6 weeks can be a good indicator of whether acupuncture will be effective. More chronic complaints might need up to 12 treatments to see significant change. |
Often clients continue with maintenance - every other week, or once a month, or even seasonally.

What are the most common potential risks associated with acupuncture?

  • Serious risks are rare. There can be minor bleeding or bruising at insertion points.
  • Occasionally clients can feel dizzy or light headed, and this usually passes quickly.
  • Sometimes symptoms can temporarily worsen before they improve.

What should I do and expect following an acupuncture treatment?

  • Clients often feel more relaxed and alert following a treatment. 
  • There can be transitory lightheadedness, which will pass with rest or gentle movement.
  • Please refrain from vigorous physical activity right after a treatment. The acupuncture treatment moves Qi subtly. Vigorous exercise is much less subtle! Please give the treatment time to work.
  • Refraining from alcohol for the remainder of the day is also recommended for the same reason.