Frequently Asked Questions

Generally, people barely know it when needles are inserted. Sometimes, people feel a light pinch or nothing at all. After the insertion of the acupuncture needle, people may feel a sensation of heaviness, distention or tingling along a meridian – this is the therapeutic effect of acupuncture, also called “de qi”. This sensation is completely normal and varies from person to person.
On certain points, or for those who are needle-phobic, we use cold lasers. Their wavelength specifically stimulates acupuncture meridians and their application is completely painless.
The acupuncture needles are pre-packaged, sterilized, single-use and are discarded immediately after removal from the patient. Acupuncture needles are also very thin compared to hypodermic needles used to give injections. In fact, forty acupuncture needles can fit into the top of one standard 18 gauge hypodermic needle.
Acupuncture is very safe, when performed by a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac). The average liability coverage for an acupuncturist is about $600 per year, while primary care physicians pay an average of $12,000 per year. That’s a 20:1 difference. While this may not translate into exactly a 20 to 1 difference in safety, a visit to an acupuncturist is at least as safe as a visit to your doctor, if not safer.
Comprehensive training in biomedicine, anatomy and traditional differential diagnosis and proper therapeutic methods require that a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) completes three to four academic years of education at the master’s degree level in an Oriental Medicine Program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).

In addition to graduation from an ACAOM accredited program, a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) must demonstrate professional competency by passing NCCAOM certification examinations in Foundations of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture with Point Location, Chinese Herbology, and Biomedicine.

Generally, the NCCAOM Diplomate training and competency verification is in sharp contrast to the acupuncture and Oriental medicine training of other healthcare professionals such as chiropractors or registered nurses or even medical doctors who typically receive 100-300 hours of abbreviated training. In addition, other healthcare professionals who study acupuncture are not trained or assessed to practice Chinese herbal medicine.

Licensed acupuncturists and Oriental medicine practitioners are also trained in standard medical history gathering, safety, and ethics, and recognition of when to refer patients to other healthcare professionals or consult with other medical practitioners

Acupuncture has been used successfully on horses and dogs, and they do not know about placebo effect. Acupuncture and herbs work whether you believe in them or not. Good results are seen in the majority of cases. When all other treatment methods have failed, this indicates a systematic imbalance – exactly what acupuncture and herbs excel at handling.
During your first office visit, we spend a lot of time getting a complete picture of your health and lifestyle. We examine the condition of your tongue, and check your pulse on both wrists. We’ll also ask questions about your emotional state, and specific symptoms you may have.

This is done because unlike Western medicine, we heal the whole person instead of focusing on the symptoms of your condition. The first visit lasts approximately 90 minutes and includes an acupuncture session.

Your subsequent acupuncture visits are usually an hour long. At every acupuncture visit we discuss your progress, and at regular intervals we examine your tongue, pulse and digital meridian chart.

From clinical experience, we have seen the best results with frequent (2x week) sessions during the first 4 weeks (Relief Care), followed by weekly sessions for 4 weeks (Corrective Care). Most patients are able to “graduate” to a maintenance schedule after the intensive Relief & Corrective Care phases. The exact duration of sessions depends on the condition, your basic level of health, and how well you respond to acupuncture.
Your body has meridians or pathways that carry blood and energy to all the different parts of your body. These pathways can be compared to a garden hose: as long as the water flows, the grass will grow. If you get a kink in the garden hose, the water will stop or slow down. Therefore, similar to the functioning of the body, symptoms will occur from that point on. Acupuncture helps to restore the free flow of blood and energy so symptoms not only go away, but stay away.
In Chinese medical theory, acupuncture works by balancing the body’s Qi. Qi can be described as a form of bioenergy that runs along 12 major meridians. If Qi gets blocked, it shows up as an imbalance or illness. Basically, if you have a health condition, some part of your body’s system is out of whack. Chinese medical theory allows us to diagnose the imbalance… and balance it.

In Western medical theory, acupuncture appears to work by stimulating parts of the brain. It also stimulates the body to release natural biomolecules such as neurotransmitters, vasodilators, and hormones. So far, research is still trying to find an answer. It has been shown that the insertion of a needle at an acupuncture point reaches the brain in about 0.8ms, which is 100 times faster than nerve transmission. Currently, there is more research being done to establish the mechanism by which fascia and connective tissue creates a piezoelectric effect which could explain the fast transmission of signals. The exact mechanisms which brings this about are unknown, but the effects are measurable.

Some insurers cover acupuncture. You can usually find out by calling the number on your insurance card. We provide a “superbill” that provides all the information you need to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. It is a standardized form which insurers expect.