FAQs  :  Meridians  :  Herbal Therapies  :  Adjunctive Therapies

Acupuncture FAQs

What is acupuncture and how does it work?
For over 2,500 years, acupuncture has been the mainstay of Chinese medicine.  In recent years, this Eastern system has 
spread and flourished throughout Asia and Europe.  As western medicine increasingly embraces Eastern medical traditions, 
acupuncture has rapidly gained recognition and popularity here in the US.

Acupuncture is a part of the health system known as Chinese Medicine.  Acupuncture is a process using a variety of techniques
to affect the energetic flow through the body, and thus catalyzing a physiological response.  There is an explanation from the 
Chinese medicine perspective, which both explains and guides the transformation within the human body and supports the use
of these techniques.

It is based on a specialized mapping of the human body.  As long as the connections and intersections of this map are intact and 
whole, the human body can breathe, digest, move, and heal; in short live healthily.  Acupuncture is used to keep this map intact.  
The pathways on the map are called meridians and wherever they travel across the body, that part of the body can be affected. 
You may click on the meridian key in this segment and explore them if you like. 

Western medicine's accepted rational and structure does not correspond directly with oriental medicine, however, scientific 
research continues to explore acupuncture.  Research confirms there are direct physiological effects, including endorphin release, 
improved circulation, and changes in the endocrine, immune and gastrointestinal systems.  This translates into people feeling
better and having their symptoms addressed.

Is acupuncture safe? Does it hurt?

Acupuncture is safe.  I have used it to treat ages as young as 3 days old and as old as 97.  It can be 
used with pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.  A licensed acupuncturist 
is trained to know what points are needled and how to do this safely.

Acupuncture needles are so tiny that they can be virtually painless.  I have developed a technique, 
which surprises newcomers in the comfort they experience during a session.  I have been able to 
successfully work with clients who are needle phobic.  It is possible for a needle to sting when inserted, 
and in that case, it is quickly removed and the sensation disappears.  It is also possible to for a capillary to be breached and 
cause a drop of blood to appear when the needle is removed.  This happens infrequently and if it does occur, it is more often from 
an arm or leg twitching as people fall asleep during the session.  Consider: 14 acupuncture needles take up as much space as 
a single hypodermic needle.  The needles are discarded after a single use, preventing the risk of infection.

Do I have to believe in acupuncture?
As with any medical system, it is important to trust your practitioner, and believe in the healing process, but you needn't believe 
in acupuncture in order to benefit from it.  Acupuncture is, in fact, used effectively on animals.  

What can I expect upon my first visit?
Adults:  For adults and adolescents, there is a 1 1/2 hour time allowed for evaluation.  We discuss your primary concerns, and 
in addition I have many questions which contribute to an oriental medical diagnosis.  Part of Oriental Medicine includes feeling 
the pulse and looking at the tongue.  The pulse is felt to assess qualities other than rate. 

The tongue is looked at for information much like reflexology where information can be gained on the state of the body.  It is recommended people to not brush their tongue before this visit.  Often the question and answer part along with the pulse and 
tongue, takes the entire time.  If it does not and there is sufficient time left, we may do some acupuncture that day.  Otherwise, 
we agree to schedule the next appointment.  When the primary concerns for coming to see me include a musculoskeletal issue. 
A physical therapy assessment is part of the evaluation.  This could include assessments for Range of Motion, Fascial restrictions, postural alignment, leg lengths, and muscle strength.
Children:  For treatment with children, the first visit is with the parent only.  It will take up to one hour.  It is possible to do this 
part of the interview on the phone, however, in person is preferred.  This is an opportunity to gather information about the child 
and for questions to be answered about acupuncture.  It is a time for strategy in regards to how best to approach various issues 
involved with working with your child.  
On the first visit for the child, further assessment information will be gathered and it is a chance for the child and I to meet.  
It is possible to do acupuncture during this visit, if the child is ready.  Children may sits on the parents lap or the more precocious children prefer the “nest” which has been made on the table.  The needles are inserted and removed typically after a time of 
1 to 10 seconds. Japanese acupuncture techniques make it possible to use the meridian system  and acupuncture points without 
having to insert needles.



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Herbal Therapies

I have read that herbs are not safe or the quality and concentration of what is in them, is inconsistent.  What can you say about this?

At this time the FDA has placed several restrictions and requirements on the use of herbs in an effort to make them safe for the public to use.  Companies manufacturing the herbs are required to use testing methods and handling techniques.  Those supplying herbs are required to document the lot item number from these companies.  Research has been done on possible western drug and herbal interactions.


What if I do not want to take herbs? 

When I work with a client, I have a list of recommendations from any number of the therapeutic techniques.  It is essential for a 
person to actively choose which techniques they want to work with and discuss their choices with me.  Should any one of my recommendations feel unsuitable, I would want and expect a person to voice their opinion allowing us to develop a treatment plan together.


What type of herbs do you use in your practice?
I was trained with the use of Chinese herbs and Western herbs.  When recommending Chinese herbs, the form can be in powders, patented formulas in tablet form, tinctures, or teas, or plasters.  Western herbs are typically recommended in the forms of tinctures, teas, and poultices.  Flower essences may also be possibly helpful. 


What are the differences between Chinese herbs and Western herbs?

Chinese herbs have a written tradition extending back for a few thousand years.  The herbs can be dried and used as is or processed by toasting, or with another substance like vinegar to alter their chemical properties.  Choosing an herbal formula is based within the system of Chinese medicine with examples tried throughout history.  Chinese herbs are found as the whole substance like a root chopped up or ground into a powder, or this same root could be made into a tea and freeze dried into a powder. 
Western herbs use some of the same herbs as Chinese medicine and some in their own category.   

With western herbal medicine, there is often an aspect of how it has been historically used with the symptom described in western medical terms.  There are also aspects of energetic properties, which may or may not correspond to the Chinese interpretation of how an herb is used.  In addition, western herbs are informed by the use of Native American and indigenous uses and as such the concept of plant spirit medicine comes into making a choice.

Flower essences have a completely different process technique.  There are no chemical constituents of the plants they have come from.  Their recommendations come from a tradition of deeply affecting a spiritual/emotional aspect of an issue.  A commonly used flower essence found in health food stores is “Rescue Remedy”.


Adjunctive Therapies

Gwa Sha (dermal friction): This technique involves scraping the surface of the skin with a tool using a lubricant to decrease friction.  The technique is painless, in fact people report it is a pleasant sensation.  It may, however,  produce a deep redness of the skin that may last three to four days.  The rational for this technique is to allow circulation in an area that shows symptoms of stagnation.
Electro-acupuncture: This technique uses electric stimulation attached to the inserted needles.  The stimulator provides a pulsating sensation in the area being addressed. 
Moxibustion: Indirect moxa - This heat therapy is administered by burning the herb Artemisia Vulgaris,  otherwise known as moxa, generally in pole form, 1-1 1/2 “ above an acupuncture point or area of the body.
Direct moxa - This is a Japanese style of moxa which places thread size moxa onto the skin.  The skill of the practitioner prevents overheating of the skin.
Cupping: Suction is created in a glass cup which is placed on the skin at specific areas to improve circulation and remove energetic blockages.  It can have a similar effect visually on the skin as Gwa Sha.
Intradermal or Magnetic-Therapy: This therapy involves placing small needles or specialized magnets and/or pellets of various metals on the body at specific points to reduce pain, increase mobility, and/or extend the effects of an office treatment.  These are left in place with tape during the time between appointments. 
Tuina: Manual therapy which uses a variety of massage, tapping or stretching.
Qi gong: Enhancing the movement of qi  either through specific bodily movements (similar to tai qi), or qi facilitation by the practitioner.
Herbalology: Use of plants and plant extracts in the form of powders, teas, tinctures, or poultices.
Nutritional counseling: Foods in Chineese medicine, hold varying qualities and a balance of these qualities may be recommended. In addition, there may be recommendations of nonprescription substances which meet the Food and Drug Administration labeling requirements as dietary supplements to promote health.
Breathing and meditation techniques: May be used during the treatment to facilitate a therapeutic effect, or may be given as a home practice.
In areas of lifestyle, behavior, support, education, and stress.