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Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

Frequently Asked Questions

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the therapies of Traditional Chinese Medicine, with a written history in China of 2000 years but dating back before recorded history. It is currently used by a quarter of the world’s population, mostly in Asia, and its popularity is growing rapidly in the west as scientific trials prove its efficacy. Acupuncture consists of the insertion of extremely fine needles into specific points to regulate the systems of the body and alleviate pain.

Acupuncture is used along with herbal medicine and dietary therapy to help the patient heal naturally and completely.

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How does acupuncture work?

The Chinese have developed, over thousands of years, a working theory of acupuncture. They discovered pathways along the body that related to the organs and systems of the body, through which “qi” traveled. They found that when there was illness, the qi was blocked, excessive, deficient, or unbalanced. Acupuncture was one way of restoring and balancing the flow of qi. By inserting needles in certain points along the channels and manipulating the qi flowing through those channels, organ function could be regulated. It can relax the muscles and inflammation is reduced. Pain can also be alleviated.

Over the thousands of years that have passed, the doctors recorded their observations every generation learning from and improving upon those that came before. Today acupuncture is benefiting from modern research techniques.

The exact mechanism is still unknown. If you are interested in recent theories and research please refer to the Resources page.

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Is acupuncture safe?

Yes. The acupuncture needle is an extremely fine, disposable (one-use), sterile, FDA approved medical device. A licensed acupuncturist has undergone years of training in its safe implementation.

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Is acupuncture painful?

When administered by a skilled professional it should not hurt. The hair-thin needles are not to be compared with the thick hypodermic syringes used for shots. The insertion feels like a tug on a body hair. After the needle is inserted their may be a feeling of tingling, a sensation of something moving, a warm feeling, etc. Many find it an enjoyable experience.

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How many treatments will I need?

Depending on the nature, severity and duration of the complaint,the course of treatment will vary. Most problems can be fixed quickly, while more chronic conditions may be relieved only with time and effort. The speed of progress with long-standing chronic issues is much determined by the patients willingness to live and eat well in conjunction with the treatment.

He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician

— Chinese Proverb

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What is Chinese herbal medicine?

Chinese herbs are an important aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The history of Chinese herbal medicine dates back even before the development of acupuncture. Chinese herbs are prescribed in formulas that are specifically designed for the patients needs. The herbalist will make a diagnosis and prescribe a traditional formula that corresponds to the patient’s pattern and disease diagnosis.

If the patient is taking an herbal decoction or “tea”, then a formula can be custom designed, unique to the patient’s specific condition at that time. As the patient’s health changes so will the formula need to change to best fit the patient’s needs. Patients may also prefer to take pills, tinctures, etc.

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What is the difference between decoctions, pills, tinctures, etc.?

decoction

For internal use the decoction is the strongest and fastest acting of them all. An herbal decoction is made by boiling “raw herbs” (dried Chinese herbal medicine) in a pot usually for between 20 minutes and 1 hour. Because this is not a pre-made formula it can be custom designed to more exactly treat you the individual, as no two patients are ever the same. You can cook the herbs themselves, or have the herbs pre-cooked and sealed into dose-sized vacuum-packed bags.

pills

Although not as strong as the decoction, pills are very widely used because of the convenience they provide. Also, if you need to take herbs for an extended period of time, the pills are certainly the way to go. They are usually made by making a decoction and then drying it so that all that remains is a concentration of the active ingredients. They are also not as expensive.

tinctures

Tinctures are another form of ready-made herbal formulas. The medium provides a faster absorption, but I am skeptical of the amount of active ingredients able to dissolve into the solution.

powders

There are some very high-quality powders made in Japan according to traditional methods. The Japanese practice a form of Chinese medicine called Kampo. These Kampo powders come in traditional doses, which are smaller, and are thus more subtle in action. These are most suited, as are pills, to long term use for chronic conditions, or for treating one’s constitution. They are also convenient for quick use in the early stages of a cold.

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Are all Chinese herbs plant derived?

Although it is called Chinese herbal medicine, the Chinese materia medica does contain some animal and mineral medicinals. However, the vast majority of herbal formulas do not contain medicinals derived from animals, and vegan patients can easily be accommodated by the use of herbs to substitute for the animal product.

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How much does a session cost? Do you charge more for the first visit?

The initial consultation is $160, and follow up visits are $100.

Do you take insurance?

We are a cash-only practice. However, if you are covered for acupuncture we can give you a “health insurance claim form” as a receipt that you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.