Q & A

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Some common questions about acupuncture are answered below. Call us if you have other questions or if you are interested in improving your life through acupuncture treatment.

What is Acupuncture?

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Acupuncture is an effective form of health care that has evolved into a complete and holistic medical system. Practitioners of acupuncture and Oriental medicine have used this noninvasive medical system to diagnose and help millions of people get well and stay healthy.

An acupuncturist will place fine, sterile needles at specific acupoints on the body. This activates the body’s Qi and promotes natural healing by enhancing recuperative power, immunity and physical and emotional health. It also can improve overall function and well-being. It is a safe, painless and effective way to treat a wide variety of medical problems.

What will my acupuncturist do?

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During the initial exam a full health history will be taken. Questions will be asked regarding symptoms, health and lifestyle. Your acupuncturist also may check pulses and your tongue and may conduct a physical exam. This information is then organized to create a complete, accurate and comprehensive diagnosis of where Qi has become blocked or imbalanced. After the interview process, you may receive an acupuncture treatment. Visits with your acupuncturist may last from thirty to
ninety minutes.

Why do they want to feel my pulse?

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There are twelve pulse positions on each wrist that your acupuncturist will palpate. Each position corresponds to a specific meridian and organ. Your acupuncturist will be looking for twenty-seven individual qualities that reflect overall health. If there are any problems, they may appear in the pulse.

Why do they want to look at my tongue?

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The tongue is a map of the body. It reflects the general health of the organs and meridians. Your acupuncturist will look at the color, shape, cracks and coating on your tongue.

Why did my acupuncturist recommend herbs?

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Herbs can be a powerful adjunct to acupuncture care. They are used to strengthen, build and support the body or to clear it of excess problems like a cold, fever or acute pain. Your practitioner may suggest starting with herbs and then adding acupuncture to your treatment in the future. This is suggested to build up your internal strength so you can receive the full benefits acupuncture has to offer.

Is acupuncture safe for children?

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Yes. In some instances children actually respond more quickly than adults. If your child has an aversion to needles, your acupuncturist may massage the acupuncture points. This is called acupressure or tuina.

How many treatments will I need?

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The number of treatments will vary from person to person.A typical course of treatments is 3 to 12 visits, but the exact duration depends on your condition, overall health, and how well you respond to acupuncture.  Some people experience immediate relief; others may take 4-6 visits.  Chronic conditions usually take longer to resolve than acute ones. Plan on a minimum of a month to see significant changes.

Treatment frequency depends on a variety of factors: your constitution, the severity and duration of the problem and the quality and quantity of your Qi. An acupuncturist may suggest one or two treatments per week, or monthly visits for health maintenance and seasonal “tune ups”.

 

How much does it cost?

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Rates vary and depend upon what procedures are performed. It is best to consult with your acupuncturist about costs.

Will my insurance cover acupuncture?

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Insurance coverage varies from state to state. Contact your insurance provider to learn what kind of care is covered. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Will my plan cover acupuncture?
  • How many visits per calendar year?
  • Do I need a referral?
  • Do I have a co-pay?
  • Do I have a deductible?
  • If yes, has it been met?

How should I prepare?

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  • Write down and bring any questions you have. We are here to help you.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing for easy access to acupuncture points.
  • Do not eat large meals just before or after
    your visit.
  • Refrain from overexertion, working out, drugs or alcohol for up to six hours after the visit.
  • Avoid stressful situations. Make time to relax, and be sure to get plenty of rest.
  • Between visits, take notes of any changes that may have occurred, such as the alleviation of pain, pain moving to other areas, or changes in the frequency and type of problems.

How safe is acupuncture?

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Acupuncture is extremely safe. It is an all-natural, drug-free therapy, yielding no side effects just feelings of relaxation and well-being. There is little danger of infection from acupuncture needles because they are sterile, used once, and then discarded.

What to do After a Acupuncture treatment,

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When people ask me what they should and should not do after acupuncture, I usually tell them, “Be good to yourself.”

Vague advice, but it’s what most recommendations for taking care of yourself after acupuncture come down to. Acupuncture gets things moving, potentially causing your body to react in ways that it’s not used to. You want to honor that experience by giving yourself time to see how things shake out.

So, how do you be good to yourself?. Here are six ways to take care of yourself after an acupuncture treatment.

Rest.

You don’t have to literally lie down or take a nap (although, bonus if you can). By rest, I mean, go easy. Don’t help your friend move into a six-floor walkup apartment. Don’t babysit for your sister’s colicky baby and two-month-old puppy. Don’t stay up really late that night. Some people get a jolt of energy after acupuncture, but better to savor the boost—chances are, you need it. Resting allows the physical and emotional restoration that acupuncture sets in motion to continue.

Go light on exercise.

A lot of people ask whether they can workout after acupuncture. Exercise is fine—light, gradual movement can be a nice adjunct to an acupuncture treatment—but be gentle. If you’re a runner, try walking on the day you have acupuncture. If you normally take advanced yoga classes, give a beginner or intermediate class a whirl. If you’ve never hiked to the top of that mountain, acupuncture day probably isn’t the best day to try.

Use heat.

One of the most common questions I get from people who are going to acupuncture for pain relief is, “Should I use heat or ice?” Heat is the answer almost every time. From an acupuncture perspective, many pain conditions are caused by stagnation. Things are not moving smoothly through the channels, causing blockages that lead to pain. Acupuncture restores flow, helping to eliminate these blockages. (Watch this cool video to better understand this concept.) Looking at pain in this way, ice is counterproductive—it causes things to remain stagnant and slows down the healing process. After acupuncture, choose heat.

Avoid alcohol and coffee.

This is for two reasons: 1) It’s important to stay hydrated after acupuncture because it can cause toxins to be released into your system. Staying appropriately hydrated helps flush out these toxins. Since alcohol and coffee both cause dehydrating effects on the body, they should be avoided after acupuncture.

2) Alcohol and coffee mess with your bodily awareness. One of the main goals of acupuncture is to bring greater clarity and awareness to how we really feel. Since alcohol impairs the senses and coffee falsely heightens them, both can potentially counteract or mask the effects of acupuncture. You don’t have to eliminate these things from you life, but steer clear for a day or two after acupuncture.

Turn off the TV.

Acupuncture helps bring you into a place of balance, where your sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight response) is no longer in overdrive. Your mind is calmer and clearer, enjoying a respite from the overstimulating world in which we live. As soon as you click on that TV, it all comes flooding back—incessant advertising, screaming pundits, news flashes, noise and more noise. Keep the TV off and you’ll extend your state of acu-bliss.

Eat good food.

Acupuncture helps bring the toxins out. Don’t knowingly put them back in by eating poor-quality food. Avoid processed foods and sugar. Think about food as sustenance, and eating as an opportunity to continue healing your body after acupuncture. When we conceive of food in this way, fast food and other junk become less appealing. After acupuncture, imagine the foods that would make you feel nourished and healthy, then go eat them.

 

 

8 things to do before a Acupuncture Treatment

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Acupuncture isn’t really into hard-and-fast rules. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. This is the beauty of acupuncture—it meets us wherever we’re at.

However, there are some general rules of thumb when it comes to preparing for an acupuncture appointment. All are tweakable based on your constitution and preferences, but in my experience, these guidelines tend to improve the treatment experience and outcome for most people.

Are you ready to get the most out of your next acupuncture treatment? Remember these eight things.

Schedule wisely.

Avoid scheduling acupuncture before or after something really strenuous. You don’t need to be sedentary on either side of an appointment, but nor should you be going nuts at the gym or suffering through an extremely stressful meeting. Also avoid sandwiching—squeezing in acupuncture immediately between two other events—as this has a tendency to make you either late for or stressed out during your treatment.

Eat.

This is an important one, and it’s something I get asked about a lot. Everyone metabolizes food at different rates, so adjust as you see fit, but a good guideline is to eat about two hours before an acupuncture appointment. You don’t want to show up really full, or after having eaten something heavy, fried or spicy, but do not go for acupuncture on an empty stomach. It can leave you feeling lightheaded or physically depleted. If you’re debating whether it’s too close to your appointment to eat, eat. Better to be a little full than distracted by hunger during your appointment.

Coffee is not your friend.

That is not to say that coffee is never your friend, but coffee is not your friend immediately before acupuncture. If you have a morning appointment and can’t go without your morning cup, do what you have to do. But if you’re going for acupuncture later in the day, avoid coffee for at least two hours before.

Coffee is a stimulant. It has been shown to release norepinephrine and epinephrine, which kick your body into fight-or-flight mode. Acupuncture works to shift you away from that sympathetic (fight-or-flight) state and toward a parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) one, so coffee inhibits the process. It also makes it difficult for the acupuncturist to get accurate readings on your pulse and tongue, since coffee increases your heart rate and stains your tongue.

Neither is alcohol.

One of acupuncture’s greatest gifts is its ability to help us see more clearly. Not literally, as in improved vision (although it has been known to do that too), but it helps us see situations and our symptoms with more clarity. Alcohol does the opposite. It numbs us, takes the edge off, which during acupuncture is not a good thing. One goal of acupuncture is to bring more awareness to how we feel. Impairing the senses with alcohol is not helpful.

Remember where you’ve been.

Before acupuncture, spend some time thinking about—or even making a list, if that helps—any significant medical events in your life. For example, family disease history, car accidents, broken bones, other serious injuries, long-term illnesses, surgeries, etc. Also make note of any medications you are taking currently as well as any that you took long-term in the past (e.g., birth control pills).

We tend to forget these things, or assume they’re irrelevant, but from an acupuncture perspective they help contribute to your overall picture of health. Your acupuncturist will want to hear about them. When in doubt about whether to include something, it’s always better to mention it.

Wear loose clothing.

This is so the acupuncturist can easily access the places where he or she wants to place needles. It’s especially important if you’re going for a community acupuncture appointment, because treatments are performed in a group setting with clothes on. However, even for private acupuncture appointments, loose clothing usually makes things easier for you and the practitioner.

Don’t rush.

Even when we schedule wisely, there is still a tendency to leave at the last minute for appointments. This makes most appointments more stressful than they need to be, but especially with acupuncture, arriving at your appointment amped-up is counter productive. It’s similar to how coffee works against the process of calming the nervous system. When you rush into an appointment, your pulse is higher than normal, your mind is spinning, and you’re tense with worry about the prospect of being late.

Many of us already deal with these qualities during our regular stress-filled days—and they’re often the reasons for coming to acupuncture in the first place—so why make them worse by rushing? Regardless of when your appointment is, put it in your calendar as 15 minutes earlier. The worst than can happen is you sit for 15 minutes in a quiet waiting room. Finally, time and space to hear yourself think.

Turn off your cellphone.

Last but not least, please turn off your phone. Not on vibrate. Off. Do it before your appointment actually starts, to avoid forgetting and/or getting distracted by a call or message immediately before you’re about to begin. This is your time and no one else’s. Make it count.

Some of these things are easy to forget. Create a pre-acupuncture checklist, something you can glance at on the days you have acupuncture, once first thing in the morning and again just before your appointment.