faq – acupuncture


Does acupuncture hurt?

A skilled practitioner should not cause pain. Some points are more sensitive than others, & a small “pinch” is common. The needles are thinner than a human hair, and since they are solid, they don’t cut through muscle tissue like a hypodermic needle.

What does acupuncture treat?

Most people think acupuncture can only treat pain.  Some of the most commonly treated conditions are  menstrual issues, insomnia, poor digestion, acne, psoriasis, depression and anxiety.

What can I expect during  a session?

We will discuss your health issues in detail, and then I will take your pulses, look at your tongue and palpate some acupuncture points. If you are interested in your Chinese medical diagnosis, I will explain all my findings to you.

Next, you’ll relax on a heated table and listen to music while I insert needles. If needed, I will also do some cupping, gua sha, and make some recommendations for herbs, lifestyle and exercises.

What can acupuncture do for me?

You can utilize Chinese medicine/acupuncture in one of two ways -as a Band-Aid/quick fix, or as a way to get to the root of a problem and heal more deeply.

It’s truly okay to use it whatever way you wish, but know that Chinese medicine really shines when it is used to really heal and change the landscape of your body.

How does acupuncture work?

From the TCM perspective, the insertion of needles at specific points along specific pathways helps energy flow regain its balance.  In TCM, energy moves blood (qi) through pathways known as meridians. Think of qi like the flow of water through a stream. Water flow in a stream might be blocked by a fallen tree or a mud slide; in humans, qi might be blocked by an injury, stress or  improper foods. When a stream is blocked, it floods above the blockage, and below the blockage it dries up. If you remove the source of the blockage,  the stream will resume its natural course. The same thing happens to the body when energy is blocked.

Through acupuncture, blockage is removed and the flow of qi within a meridian – the natural energy flow – is restored.
A blocked stream can be cleared by cutting a small hole in the blockage and allowing water pressure to slowly move the blockage and restore the stream to its natural function. Acupuncture has a similar effect. Just as a stream  has areas that are easier to access than others, the meridians have certain points which will have a significant impact on the flow pattern. Many acupuncture points are named for geological structures: mountains, streams, ponds, and oceans.

Mountain river. A stream of water in forest and mountain terrain

From a Western perspective, Acupuncture signals the brain to release natural pain killing chemicals like endorphins, norepinephrine and enkephalin.  Some of these substances are 10-200 times more potent than morphine. The Western medical explanation is that acupuncture works by reducing  inflammation and decreasing cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. At the same time, the needles trigger a healing response and your body produces more seratonin, oxytocin, melatonin and dopamine, chemicals which help with reducing stress and pain and increasing mood and sense of well being. Acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin, which reguates the parasympathetic nervous system, sometimes called the “rest and digest” or “calm and connect” system because it  conserves energy and slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.

How often do I need to come back?

If you’re coming in for a cold or  flu, or within a day or two of an injury, it may only take one visit. Your results will depend on your general health, how long you’ve had your condition, and your diet and lifestyle.I often compare Chinese medicine to physical therapy – it’s a retraining of the body whether you are using acupuncture, herbs, or both. Generally you will heal much faster and be able to conclude treatment if you schedule your treatments closer together.

Most people feel a significant difference after 3 treatments. Generally it will take at least 10 visits to resolve most conditions, but again, that depends on several factors. Some issues can take months to resolve if they’ve been untreated for a long time.

I will suggest a course of treatment based on the intensity and duration of your health concern, your age and constitution. If you donʼt come in often enough or for enough treatments, acupuncture may not work as well for you.

Some people and conditions tend to respond to acupuncture pretty quickly – some take time.

Do you accept insurance?acupuncture needles compared with match stick

Not currently. However, I will give you a superbill that you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.

What are your fees?

Our fees are sliding scale. You pick the price that best fits your income level.

  • First Visit $50-$90
  • Follow Up Visits $50-85
How big are the needles?
They are thinner than a human hair, and just a few millimeters long.
By Markgran (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Is it safe?
Yes. We use sterile, disposable needles.