Commonly Asked Questions

What is acupuncture? Acupuncture consists of the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points along pathways shown to be effective in the treatment of specific health problems. The Chinese have mapped these points for over 2,000 years, with more than 1,000 known acu-points. In the past three decades, electromagnetic research has confirmed the existence and location of these points.

How does acupuncture work?  TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is based on the ancient Chinese theories of the flow of Qi (life force which nourishes the body) through channels that cover the body in a similar fashion to blood vessels or nerve pathways. The insertion of needles into acu-points may strengthen Qi where it is weak, move it from areas where it is stuck, or drain it from channels where it is too abundant. Similarly, acupuncture can have the same effects on Blood — which nourishes and guides Qi — and Essence, a sort of prenatal Qi inherited from our parents. By adjusting the flow of Qi, Blood, Essence, and other vital substances in the body, acupuncture restores homeostasis in the body. There should be no pain or disease if Qi is flowing freely through the channels, and Yin and Yang energy is balanced.

Is acupuncture safe? All licensed acupuncturists must complete a Clean Needle Technique certification and comply with the standards set forth by OSHA. In the U.S., only individually packaged, sterile, one-time-use disposable needles are permitted by law. The chance of infection or contagion is thereby extremely rare.

Do the needles hurt? Most needles are no wider than a piece of hair and virtually painless – sometimes you won’t even notice a needle has entered the skin. On some points there may be just a very slight prick felt as the needle penetrates the skin — nothing like a getting shot or having blood drawn, and lasting only a millisecond. Normal sensations that occasionally arise include tingling, warmth, heaviness, or feeling the Qi come to the surface or travel up and down the meridians. Most people find their treatments very relaxing – it is common to fall asleep or feel blissful afterwards, and most patients look forward to their next treatment.

How many treatments will I need?  The majority of chronic complaints take 5-15 sessions to treat. Acute conditions may be relieved in less than three, while degenerative conditions or autoimmune disorders may require ongoing therapy. TCM focuses on correcting underlying imbalances. While relief of symptoms may occur quickly, correcting the imbalances generally takes longer – but the results are long-term.

How can I get faster results? Commit to coming in for treatment 1-2X per week (or even 3X for acute pain) for the first 4 weeks. And be compliant with the herbs or supplements we may prescribe, and dietary/lifestyle changes we may recommend to you. “Coming in for acupuncture is like attending class, and being compliant with our recommendations is like doing your homework.” = Fast track to an A+ in healing your condition!

Why do I feel so good after a treatment? There are many tested theories about this. Acupuncture helps release dopamine (“feel good neurotransmitter”) from the brain. When under constant stress, our sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system is operating in near-constant overdrive. Acupuncture helps flip the switch to turn down this response, and turn on the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system to get it’s overdue turn to run the show. The body heals much more quickly and effectively when the nervous system is in its PNS state.

My doctor doesn’t agree with this style of medicine. Who should I believe? Your doctor most likely is just lacking the knowledge of all that our evidence-based medicine has to offer patients — not just pain management. There are hundreds of double-blind placebo studies proving Chinese medicine’s effectiveness, and thousands more from China that have yet to be translated.

I take pills for my health conditions. What is wrong with that? Nothing inherently. Though when on many pills for many different issues, it’s sometimes hard to tell what is an actual symptom of disease, and what is a medication side effect. Many medications long-term can take a toll on the liver, kidneys and sometimes digestive organs too. We don’t suggest our patients stop meds without first consulting their doctor. If given permission, we can help patients taper off certain meds in a natural, supported way to minimize withdrawal and/or recurrence of symptoms.

I get cortisone shots for my chronic joint pain issues. What is wrong with that? It may give you great immediate relief of acute pain. But why is it you can only have so many for a particular issue? The steroids themselves lead to bone density loss and sometimes can lead to necrotic tissue formation — which in the long-term could damage the integrity of the joint you are trying to heal.