Frequently Asked Questions

About Acupuncture

  • What types of health concerns can acupuncture address? 

    • Most people think of acupuncture as being primarily for relaxation and the alleviation of pain. While it IS phenomenal at treating stress and all types of pain, the World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture and oriental medicine as effective for over 43 common health concerns (see chart below). This list represents conditions that have been more extensively researched by western science, but it is not an exhaustive list of the health concerns that can be improved or treated using acupuncture and herbal medicine. If you are not sure acupuncture is right for you, please reach out with your questions or concerns. I am passionate about helping people understand the capabilities of this amazing medicine.

 

  • I am pretty healthy. Can I still benefit from acupuncture?

    • Yes! Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine developed primarily as a preventative medicine intended to keep people from forming health challenges in the first place. If your goals are to maintain your health, acupuncture treatments can help to keep your body balanced through seasonal changes, cold and flu season, and the stress of daily life. 

About your acupuncture appointment 

  • What should I do to prepare for my appointment? 

    • Make sure that you have eaten before your acupuncture treatment.

    • Refrain from brushing your tongue the morning of your appointment. While it may sound like a strange request, your tongue coating can tell us a lot about what is going on inside your body. In addition to feeling your pulses, looking at your tongue is one of the main diagnostic tools used by acupuncturists and Chinese medicine practitioners. 

    • Please do not come to your appointment under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs as it is unsafe to receive acupuncture in this condition and you will not be able to receive treatment. 

  • What should I wear? 

    • It is best to wear loose fitting clothing that can be comfortably moved so we can access acupuncture points easily (preferably up to your elbows and at/right above your knees). Some people prefer to bring comfy clothes with them to change into for their appointment. Towels and sheets are also provided for draping if necessary. 

  • What will my appointment be like? 

    • We will begin each appointment with a quick series of intake questions (initial appointments include a more extensive intake and take a little more time) so that we can discuss your treatment goals and better understand the patterns your body is currently manifesting. We may discuss your diet, sleep quality, daily habits, emotions, digestion, bowel movements, pain, and reproductive health. After the intake, you will lay down on the treatment table while I feel your pulses on each wrist and look at your tongue. These diagnostic tools provide information about your body and help to direct the treatment plan and selection of acupuncture points. During the treatment portion of your appointment, needles are retained anywhere from 15-35 minutes depending on your body’s needs. Relax. Breathe. Listen to the music. Use this time to rejuvenate and regroup. Many people find that they are so relaxed during their treatment that they fall asleep! After the needles are removed, I may employ other treatment modalities that will help lead your body to balance and wellness. Information on the other modalities acupuncturists use can be found on the homepage. 

  • How can I pay for my appointment? 

    • Payment is expected at the time of service. Cash or check is preferred, but debit, credit, and HSA card payments may be made with the addition of a $2 surcharge. 

  • Do you take insurance? 

    • At this time, I do not bill insurance but I am able to take HSA cards or provide a super bill for use with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). 

 

Common Concerns

  • Does acupuncture have risks or side effects? 

    • When acupuncture is done by a properly trained professional, the risks and side effects are minimal. Occasionally minor bruising or tenderness can occur at the site where the needle was placed. Acupuncture needles come in sterile packaging and are only used once so the risk for infection is very low. The main “side effect” reported by my patients is improved sleep, less pain, and an Elevated sense of health and well being! 

  • I am afraid of needles! Can you still help me? 

    • This is a very common concern for an acupuncturist to hear. When most people think of needles, they imagine hypodermic needles- the ones used for shots or drawing blood. These needles are large and hollow in the center to allow for the passage of fluids. Acupuncture needles however are made from solid, flexible stainless steel and are roughly the width of human hair. Patients who are afraid of needles usually find that they are completely comfortable during acupuncture treatments, but if you are feeling hesitant there are other methods of treatment we can use to help you achieve your health goals including acupressure, Tui Na (massage), and cupping.

  • Does acupuncture hurt? 

    • While some people feel a pinch or ache when an acupuncture needle is inserted, most patients are surprised to find that they do not feel the insertion of the needles at all! Once the needle is in, I may gently stimulate the needle to bring your body’s awareness to the selected acupuncture points. Commonly reported needle sensations during treatments include a slight ache, a sensation of heaviness, itching, pulsating, tingling, small muscle twitches, or a feeling of energy movement. If at any time during your treatment you find that a needle is causing you discomfort, please let me know so that I can adjust it accordingly. 

  • I am pregnant. Is acupuncture safe for me and my baby?

    • Yes! Acupuncturists are trained extensively on how to adapt treatments and point selection to keep you and your baby safe. After the first trimester, acupuncture points on the abdomen and sacral area will not be used. Many pregnant patients find that continuing acupuncture treatments throughout their pregnancy helps them combat the morning sickness, fatigue, sleep disturbances, emotional changes, swelling, and body aches that can be associated with pregnancy. After your baby is here, acupuncture can help you to recover from delivery, balance hormonal shifts, and facilitate successful breastfeeding.

 

About Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) 

  • What are Chinese herbal formulas made of? 

    • Chinese herbs are derived from plant, mineral, and animal sources. Historically speaking, herbal formulas used to include things like rhino horn or cinnabar which would never be used today. Now most Chinese herbs come from plants, with different parts of the plant being used for different medicinal purposes. For example, the twigs of the cinnamon plant may be included in a formula to help treat a cold and the associated body aches, while the cinnamon bark may be used to treat abdominal pain and diarrhea. While some Chinese herbs do still come from animal and mineral sources (for example, oyster shell or honey), the use of herbs mentioned in classic texts has been modernized to ensure that no endangered or at risk species, heavy metals, or other controversial substances are still in use today.

  • Are herbal formulas expensive? 

    • Costs vary depending on the formula selected, but generally speaking a few weeks of herbs will cost between $15 and $20. 

  • How long will I need to take my Chinese herbs? 

    • The amount of time a patient will remain on herbal therapy can vary greatly depending on what is being treated. Some patients may only need to take herbs for a few days or weeks (common colds, digestive concerns, constipation, etc.), while others with more chronic conditions require continued herbal support to help manage their symptoms long term (chronic pain, neurological disorders, stroke recovery, etc.). 

  • My friend and I were treated for the same condition but were given different herbal formulas. Why is that? 

    • Chinese herbal medicine looks at the patient as a whole, rather than focusing on a certain diagnosis. Each formula is selected specifically for your body type, your constitution, and how your body is responding to your health conditions. This customization is one of the reasons that herbal medicine can be so effective! Let’s use an example to help me explain. A 30 year old, healthy and robust man catches a cold. His symptoms are stuffy nose, intense body aches, sneezing, fever, and constipation. A few days later, his girlfriend also comes down with a cold. She is underweight and gets sick frequently. Her symptoms are a runny nose, fever, chills, slight body aches, fatigue, and sneezing. While a western doctor may treat both of these people with the same antibiotic, a Chinese medicine practitioner will take into account the differences in symptoms as well as the differences in the strength and prior health of the patients and therefore prescribe different formulas for each.  

  • Will the herbs interfere with my medications? 

    • With most herbal formulas, there is minimal risk of an herb-drug interaction, especially when they are taken separately. My educational background includes basic pharmacology and learning how the herbs I may prescribe interact with and can affect supplements, vitamins, and western medications. It is important to disclose all of the medications you are taking so that I can be sure to take this into account when choosing which formula will work best for you.

WHO-chart.gif