Woman receiving acupuncture treatment

What Is Acupuncture and How Does It Work?

Acupuncture is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that originated in China over 2,000 years ago.

  • It is based on the belief that living beings have a vital energy, called “Qi”, that circulates through the twelve invisible energy lines known as meridians on the body.
  • Each meridian is associated with a different organ system.
  • An imbalance in the flow of Qi throughout a meridian is how disease begins.
  • Acupuncturists insert needles into specified points along meridian lines to influence and restore balance to the flow of Qi.

What Is The Modern Scientific Explanation?

  • Acupuncture stimulates the release of pain-relieving endorphins.
  • Acupuncture influences the release of neurotransmitters, substances that transmit nerve impulses to the brain.
Acupuncture influences the autonomic nervous system.
  • Acupuncture stimulates circulation.
  • Acupuncture influences the electrical currents of the body.
  • The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by Acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.

What Does It Feel Like?  
Does it Hurt?

  • Extremely fine, hair-thin, flexible, single-use sterilized disposable needles are placed at specific Acupuncture points on the body.
  • People experience Acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pain as the needles are inserted.
  • When the needles are inserted, you may experience a sensation of tingling, dullness/achyness, or warmth, all indications that the qi is doing its work.
  • People are surprised to find that treatments are actually quite relaxing (often taking the opportunity to nap), while others feel energized.

What Is Auricular Acupuncture?

  • Auricular Acupuncture is Acupuncture performed on the ear, and is one of the most widely used microsystems in Chinese Medicine (meaning that the ear is a microcosm of the whole body.)
  • Auricular Acupuncture has been practiced since 500 BC, along with other Acupuncture procedures.  However, it has also gained recognition for treating addiction in hospitals and harm reduction clinics, and recently, for PTSD in the battlefield.
  • NADA stands for National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, and refers to the five point ear Acupuncture protocol for recovery from addictions, particularly:  drugs, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and even hunger cravings.

What Should I Expect In My First Visit?

  • Before the initial appointment, you will be asked to complete a health history questionnaire, consent form, and privacy practices form, which you will bring to your first visit.
  • I will then do a comprehensive intake, where I will ask about your primary health concern(s), lifestyle habits, diet, emotions, menstrual cycle, sleep, temperature, appetite, stress, and sensitivity to foods.
  • During the interview, I will do a careful examination, based on face color, voice, tongue color and coating.  There are also three pulse points at the wrist of each hand that I will assess to further determine the health of the 12 meridians.
  • After the interview, I will give you a diagnosis and begin treatment.  Oftentimes, I will include aromatherapy, using essential oils that will both resonate for you, and assist you in achieving a greater state of relaxation.  In addition to Acupuncture, the following modalities may be included to enhance your treatment.
    • Reiki:  The use of a gentle hands-on, or even hands-off, technique to balance the energy in the body.  This is a Japanese healing modality that works with the body’s energy centers, or chakras.  When your energy is depleted or imbalanced, you may be more likely to experience an illness or injury.  Reiki can be used as a treatment in itself, or in combination with acupuncture.
    • Moxibustion – Heating of Acupuncture needles or point areas with dried herb sticks to activate and warm the acupuncture point.  Also known as “moxa”.
    • Cupping – The application of glass cups to create a suction on the skin.  This is to relieve stagnation of qi and blood, e.g. in sports injury.
    • Gua Sha – A massage-like technique utilizing a round edge instrument to stimulate the affected area. Usually using a therapeutic oil as lubrication, the area is stimulated in a stroking manner to relieve congestion and stagnation.
    • Tui Na – Chinese medical bodywork that uses Chinese taoist and martial arts principles.  Often used in conjunction with other therapies.
    • Electrostimulation – Provides electrical stimulation to two to four Acupuncture needles.  It can be used for pain relief and muscle pain.
    • Tuning Forks – A vibrational sound healing system that connects body, mind, and spirit with harmonic attunement.  Effective for physical and emotional disorders.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

When practiced by a trained professional, Acupuncture is extremely safe.  Because the treatment does not involve the use of drugs, patients do not have to worry about adverse side effects.

How Long Is A Session?

The initial intake can range between 30-45 minutes.  All following intakes are 30 minutes.  The Acupuncture treatment itself is 30 minutes.

How Many Visits Will I Need?

The length and frequency of a treatment may vary for each individual.  Acupuncture treatments are scheduled according to the nature of your condition.  Usually patients leave in less discomfort and are more functional than when they walked in.  Sometimes the effects are too subtle to perceive, especially in the beginning of treatment.  After 3-5 treatments, the improvements become more and more apparent.  Along the way, you should see an overall improvement in your health as your main complaint improves as well.  As you improve, fewer visits are required.  We will discuss your treatment plan, since each individual is different.