Acupuncture was the only form of medicine in China prior to the introduction of Western medicine 200 years ago. We can treat any kind of condition, but it’s not necessarily the best treatment for any condition. Chinese medicine treats the condition as part of the overall pattern. For example, someone may have a headache – but we can only treat that when we take many other factors of their health into consideration. There’s not a ‘headache’ point, per se.
Because Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on a different approach than Western Medicine, many people have questions about acupuncture and herbs. Below are some common questions and answers. If you have a question that’s not covered here, feel free to send me an email.
#1) What causes the dull ache?
Answer: A dull ache is the sensation people often feel when a practitioner has reached ‘Qi’ (see below) with the acupuncture needle.
#2) What can you treat?
- Menstrual Pain
- Menopausal Support
Men’s and Women’s Health:
- Chronic Pain
- Migraines and headaches
- Chronic Health issues
- Autoimmune disorders
- Diabetes support
#3) I feel so relaxed yet energized after treatment. Why?
Answer: Illness comes from blockages in Qi. When the flow of Qi becomes free, the blocked energy goes back into your general circulation. This is like a traffic jam. When you are stuck behind the jam, you get agitated and stressed, then when you get out of the jam, you feel free and more relaxed. The same thing happens in the body.
#4) Does it hurt?
Answer: The most you will feel is like a small pinch as the needle is tapped in. Most people don’t feel anything at all. Once the needle is tapped in, then it is manipulated to get a mild ‘Qi’ sensation. This feeling is different for everyone and depends on the time of day, the season, level of relaxation, if an illness is present or not, etc. Usually people describe it as a dull, heavy sensation or a tingling sensation that follows the acupuncture meridians. As one of my 12 year-old patients says.. ‘it feels cool!..’
#5) Qi? Chi? What is this Qi?
Answer: In Western Medical physiology, the smallest unit of life is the cell. In Chinese Medical physiology, the smallest unit of life is Qi. Qi is usually translated into English as energy or life force. All things are made up of Qi. For example, it may be helpful to think of Qi as the electromagnetic bond that holds atoms together. Even a solid wood desk is made up of innumerable atoms held together by this energetic bond. The same is true in the body. Your organs, bones, muscles, blood are all made up of atoms held together with this electromagnetic force, Qi.
All material things project this electromagnetic field which is easily seen when you hold two polar magnets close to each other or watch a needle in a compass point North. In the body, Qi follows pathways we call meridians. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based upon the observation and manipulation of Qi in the meridians. When the meridians become congested, illness results. When harmony and smooth flow is returned, health results.
Feng Shui is becoming popular in the West. It is based on obtaining harmonious Qi flow in the external environment. Chinese medicine is based on obtaining harmonious Qi flow in the internal environment.
‘Qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’) is sometimes written as ‘Chi’ in older sources. ‘Chi’ is a translation from an older system of Romanization of the Chinese system called the ‘Wade-Giles’ system. The current Romanization system used in China called the ‘Pin Yin’ system uses ‘Qi’ for the translation.
#6) How many treatments does it take to get better?
Answer: Since people are so unique, treatments can take many different courses. Even though, I can suggest some general guidelines. Acute conditions that are short in duration may only require 2-3 treatments to have a curative effect. Chronic conditions that are years in duration take longer to resolve. A rule of thumb that one of my teachers used to say was for every year a person has had a problem, you need a month of weekly treatment.
That doesn’t mean that you won’t have any benefit from a couple of treatments, it just means that it takes some more time to correct the underlying cause of the problem. For example, if someone came in to have his or her low back pain treated that they had for 10 years, pain relief could be obtained within a couple of treatments. If that patient then stopped treatment since they felt better, the pain may come back. If the patient continued treatment to correct the underlying weakness that caused the pain to manifest in the first place, the pain may never return.
Depending on how long you have been dealing with a certain condition, treatment results vary. For recent, acute conditions, one or two treatments may make a big difference in how you feel. For longer term illnesses, you may require several treatments before you notice much change in the way you feel. Usually people feel pretty relaxed after a treatment and have a good nights’ sleep.
#7) How come I’m not sick when everyone else at work is? Why did my cholesterol level drop? etc..
Answer: Chinese medicine works at rebalancing the way that the body circulates Qi. When the flow of Qi is out of balance, people will get some kind of illness, depending on the location and severity of the disruption. This is the root of all disease. When the body gets back into balance, your entire body will function at a much higher level. For example, if somebody comes in to treat their migraine headaches, then continues periodic treatment after the pain is gone, the body will function more efficiently.
This prevents the headaches from coming back and prevents other illnesses from occurring. Patients who come in for periodic ‘tune-ups’ have better health. When you have better health, you catch less colds, high cholesterol levels drop, blood pressure regulates, strength and stamina increases, etc.
#8) What should I expect on my first visit?
Answer: I recommend you have a little something to eat a couple of hours before your visit so you have enough energy for the treatment. It also helps if you are well rested.
Acupuncture points are located all over the body. Many common points are located from the knees and elbows to the ends of the hands and toes. It will be more comfortable if you wear clothing that will easily roll up to your knees or elbows. The needles in modern practice are new, hair-thin, sterile surgical stainless steel and are disposed of after the treatment.
It will be helpful if you fill out my intake form before your appointment (requires Adobe Acrobat, available here). That will give you time to answer the questions well and will allow us to take full advantage of your time here.
#9) Why choose me as your acupuncturist?
Answer: I have a Masters of Traditional Chinese Medicine degree (MTCM). That is a four year degree that combines herbal and acupuncture training to treat people from the inside-out and the outside-in. I feel this is a great way to learn Chinese medicine. Other acupuncturists may have a Masters of Acupuncture degree (M.Ac.). This is a three year program that focuses on using acupuncture to treat patients. Some M.Ac. students will go back to school to get some herbal training and have a designation of Certified Herbalist (CH) attached behind their name.
Acupuncturists (MTCM or M.Ac.) have to pass a national board examination from the NCCAOM to receive a diploma in acupuncture. Choosing a practitioner with a diploma gives you peace of mind that you have a qualified practitioner. In some areas, other health care providers can also practice acupuncture. For example, in Washington, MD’s can practice acupuncture without any training in Chinese medicine and without a diploma of acupuncture from the NCCAOM.
#10) Does insurance cover acupuncture?
Answer: Few plans in Missouri cover acupuncture service. There are acupuncture benefits available with some secondary Medicare policies and federal employee insurance plans.
#11) How is my privacy protected?
Answer: Your personal information is protected according to HIPAA and state law. Please ask if you have any concerns.