What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of healing known to mankind. It originated in
China nearly five thousand years ago. The fact that it is still being practiced today
speaks much for the efficacy of this treatment and for the laws and principles on which it
is based. These are nature's laws and principles that underlie all of creation and apply to
every human being.
How does it work?
Chinese medicine recognizes that there is a vital force (called Chi energy) in the body
which controls the working of every organ and system. This energy must flow freely and in
the correct strength and quality if the body is to function correctly. In all illness, the
flow of vital energy is impaired. Acupuncture directly affects this energy at special
points located on the energy pathways (meridians). When gently inserted into these
acupuncture points, the needles produce various effects. According to the manipulation of
the needles, energy can be drawn to a deficient organ, an excess dispersed, blockages
removed, and so on, according to the individual need of the patient. As the balance and
harmony of the vital energy is restored, symptoms of illness disappear. If all of the
functions and organs of the body are working properly and harmoniously, there can not be
sickness within the body or mind.
Sometimes, points are heated with a special herb,
Artemesia Vulgaris Latiflora (called moxa), which resembles a brown colored wool. Usually, a tiny
cone of moxa is placed on the skin over an acupuncture point, ignited, and removed when
the heat is felt. Like needles, moxa revitalizes, reinforces, invigorates, and restores
balance and harmony to the vital energy.
Are the needles sterile?
Yes. Only the highest quality stainless steel disposable needles are used. These come in
pre-sterilized sealed packets and are discarded after use.
Does it hurt?
Because the needles are about the thinness of a hair, insertion is often hardly felt at
all. There may be an occasional sharpness or a dull ache, but these sensations are only
momentary and far less unpleasant than a western injection.
What happens during the initial examination?
The initial examination takes up to two hours and includes a thorough medical and
personal history, description of complaints, a review of the functioning of the systems of
the body, and a physical examination. This includes the taking of the Chinese pulses
[usually felt at the wrist] from which I can determine the state of the energy in each of
the major organs and functions. Using the diagnostic tools of classical Chinese medicine,
which include analyzing a patients predominant facial color, vocal sound, emotion, and
odor, I assess the condition of the Chi energy and determine the underlying cause of the
condition. From all of this information, a treatment plan is developed, unique to the
How many treatments are necessary and how often?
This varies from person to person and one cannot be guided by the experience of other
patients. Much depends on the severity of the disease, how long the patient has suffered
from it, as well as the lifestyle and other factors contributing to it. Typically,
treatments are given once per week for the first six to eight weeks. As the patient
improves, visits are reduced to once every ten days, two weeks, once a month, and so on.
As classical acupuncture is a preventative system of medicine, as well as curative, it is
advisable for healthy patients to come in periodically for checkups and maintenance, as
the pulses can reveal if anything is going wrong in the body long before it manifests
itself as a visible symptom. Most of us don't wait for our cars to break down before
taking them in to be checked. We should not pay less attention to our bodies!
How long does a treatment take and what actually happens?
Appointments are generally scheduled for one hour. Prior to each treatment, patients
have ample time to talk about how they've been, how they feel, and what's happening in
their lives, which is essential information for me to determine exactly the treatment that
is called for at that time. The pulses are read and moxa and/or needles are applied. The
response to the treatment will be assessed by reading the pulses. Often, after treatment,
the patient will spend a few minutes simply relaxing, lying on the treatment table, to
allow the energetic changes to settle in. Dietary and other lifestyle recommendations will
be discussed at appropriate times throughout treatment.
Can acupuncture treatment help with non-physical problems?
Yes, indeed. I must emphasize that classical acupuncture views the body, mind, and
spirit as a whole. All physical disorders will cause an imbalance in the mental outlook
and spirit of a person. This may manifest as depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, and the
like. Mental disturbances, stress, and emotional conflict will cause effect in the
physical body such as insomnia, lack of appetite, fatigue, menstrual disorders, migraines,
susceptibility to disease, aches, pains, and any labeled disease one can imagine. Any
imbalance must manifest on all levels, all part of the whole. All classical acupuncture
treatments aim to restore the harmony of body, mind, and spirit. Thus, the physical and
non-physical sides of a patient are treated together.
What about medication and other medical care?
Classical acupuncture may certainly be used in cooperation with other medical care. It
is important to me to know what medication a patient is taking as this is taken into
account in the planning and assessing of treatment. As acupuncture treatment progresses,
the need for certain drugs may well decrease and it may be appropriate to reduce or
discontinue medication, but this should be done with the cooperation and approval of the
prescribing doctor. For medical emergencies, ones personal physician or an emergency
service facility should be contacted.
Will acupuncture benefit someone who is very skeptical?
Yes. The healing process will not be affected in any way by the patient's skeptical
Is acupuncture effective on children?
There is no age limit. Often, young children respond quite well to moxa alone or with a
very minimal use of needles. There are also special pediatric acupuncture devices which
merely tap the skin surface and are quite painless.
How much does it cost?
The initial examination and treatment (two hours) costs $430. Subsequent treatments
(one hour) cost $215. We offer a sliding scale based on financial need. Most insurance plans recognize acupuncture as a covered benefit, but
each policy holder should check with his or her representative or guidebook. Unless prior
arrangements have been made, all visits are payable on the day of treatment.
Contact us if you would like to schedule an appointment of if you have any additional questions about acupuncture or acupuncture treatments.