Frequently Asked Questions
Acupuncture originated in China more than 2,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures in the world.
Acupuncture became better known in the United States in 1971, when New York Times reporter James Reston wrote about how doctors in China used needles to ease his pain after surgery. American practices of acupuncture incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries.
If you decide to use acupuncture, choose the practitioner with care. Also check with your insurer to see if the services will be covered.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a Chinese healing therapy that has been practiced over five centuries throughout Asia. In acupuncture very thin needles are inserted into specific points on the body’s surface in order to influence physiological functions of the body. Insertion and stimulation of the needles help restore and maintain the body’s natural healing ability.
Acupuncture is based on the ancient Chinese theory that there is a universal life energy called Qi or Chi in every living creature. This energy is said to circulate throughout the body along specific pathways called meridians. Qi flows freely through the meridians in a healthy body. When the flow of Qi is disrupted, it causes imbalance in the body and illness may occur.
Acupuncture points are believed to be located at specific locations where the meridians come to the surface of the skin and easily accessible by needles.
What are TCM, KM, and APM styles of acupuncture?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the most widely taught style of acupuncture in North America. It is an analytical, systematic form of acupuncture that was developed from many classical Chinese styles in the People’s Republic of China in the 1950’s.
Kiiko Matsumoto Style Acupuncture (KM) was developed over the past two decades by world-renowned Japanese acupuncturist, Kiiko Matsumoto. KM style encompasses Kiiko’s clinical experience with some of Japan’s most respected acupuncturists. This style utilizes a systematic method of palpation (therapeutic touch) that is designed to provide instant feedback regarding the patients’ condition of health.
Acupuncture Physical Medicine (APM) is a modern approach to acupuncture that was developed by the Tri-State College of Acupuncture’s founder, Mark Seem, Ph.D. APM is rooted in Classical Chinese, French, and Japanese Meridian styles of acupuncture and incorporates “dry trigger point” needling inspired by the late Janet Travell, M.D. This style’s assessment of a patient focuses on palpation of “holding patterns” or myofascial constrictions in the body.
How does acupuncture work?
How it works is not entirely clear. Research suggests that the needling process, and other techniques used in acupuncture, may produce a variety of effects in the body and the brain. One theory is that stimulated nerve fibers transmit signals to the spinal cord and brain activating the body’s central nervous system. The spinal cord and brain then release hormones responsible for making us feel less pain while improving overall health. In fact, a study using images of the brain confirmed that acupuncture increases our pain threshold, which may explain why it produces long-term pain relief. Acupuncture may also increase blood circulation and body temperature, affect white blood cell activity (responsible for our immune function), reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and regulate blood sugar levels.
Is acupuncture safe?
The risks of acupuncture are low if you have a competent, certified acupuncture practitioner using sterile needles. Common side effects include soreness and minor bleeding or bruising where the needles were inserted. Single-use, disposable needles are now the practice standard, so the risk of infection is minimal. Not everyone is a good candidate for acupuncture. You may be at risk of complications if you:
- Have a bleeding disorder. Your chances of bleeding or bruising from the needles increase if you have a bleeding disorder or if you’re taking blood thinners.
- Have a pacemaker. Acupuncture that involves applying mild electrical pulses to the needles can interfere with a pacemaker’s operation.
- Are pregnant. Some types of acupuncture are thought to stimulate labor, which could result in a premature delivery.
What is Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture?
“Mei Zen” means a beautiful person in Chinese. It is a cosmetic acupuncture protocol based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and designed to reduce signs of aging and rejuvenate skin. It is a non-surgical procedure and a safe holistic alternative to Plastic Surgery, Laser Surfacing and other surgery-based cosmetic procedures. The protocol takes 10 treatments, twice a week for 5 weeks for optimal results.
What conditions are commonly treated with acupuncture?
(This is by no means a complete list of what Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat.)
Musculoskeletal and Neurological Disorders
- Back Pain
- Stiff Neck
- Bell’s Palsy
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Headaches and Migraines
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscle Spasms
Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat Disorders
- Sore Throat
- Hay Fever
- Nerve Deafness
- Ringing in the Ears
- Poor Eyesight
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Spastic colon
- Food Allergies
- Abdominal Bloating
Gynecological / Genitourinary Disorders
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Irregular, Heavy or Painful Menstruation
- Chronic Bladder Infection
- Complications in Pregnancy
- Morning Sickness
- Infertility in Men and Women
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Smoking Cessation
Emotional and Psychological Disorders
- Cold and Flu
Acupuncture Also Treats
- Chemotherapy/Radiation Side Effects
- Dermatological Disorders
- Immune Disorders
- Weight Control
What should I expect?
During your first office visit, the practitioner may go over your intake form and ask you at length about your health condition, lifestyle, and behavior. The practitioner will want to obtain a complete picture of your treatment needs and behaviors that may contribute to your condition. Inform the acupuncturist about all treatments or medications you are taking and all medical conditions you have. The practitioner will take pulse, observe your tongue, and/or palpate acupuncture points and meridians or problem area to assess your condition.
How long is a session?
A typical session lasts from 45 minutes to 1 hour. The initial session may be longer.
How many visits will I need?
Acupuncture works cumulatively and not everyone’s response to treatment is the same. The amount of visits depends on the condition and the person. Some people have very fast results and others may have a slower time responding. Generally acute conditions take a shorter course of treatment: 3-5 consecutive weekly treatments. Chronic conditions usually require more consecutive treatments over a longer period of time. Once the condition subsides, a follow up treatment every two weeks to once a month is recommended.
TO: 1-2 treatments weekly for 3-5 consecutive weeks.