What do I need to know or do before an Acupuncture session?

Eat a snack about an hour before your appointment time so that you are neither hungry nor overly full during the treatment. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing so that I may access points on your arms, legs, abdomen and back.

An initial session usually takes around an hour and a half, as we will discuss many aspects of your health. Subsequent sessions will only take an hour, due to a shorter intake process.

Please come to your first office visit prepared to talk about your health status, lifestyle, and chief complaints, as I will want to obtain a complete picture of your treatment needs. We will discuss all treatments or medications you are currently taking and all medical conditions you have. Each session will include a verbal intake of general health questions about your level of energy, sleep, temperature and sweat, digestion, elimination, menstrual cycle (or pregnancy or menopausal symptoms), pain and headaches, allergies, and your emotional health. Diagnostic factors include visual observation of your tongue, physical palpation of your pulse at the wrist, palpation of your body along meridians and muscles, and insertion of needles.

Clean needle technique is always used when inserting the needles, and includes hand sanitizer and swabbing each point with isopropyl alcohol. On average, I use 10 to 20 needles and leave them in for 15 to 25 minutes. These numbers vary based on each patient's chief complaint and health presentation.

What is Acupuncture?

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. The term "Acupuncture" describes a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques. American practices of Acupuncture incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The Acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.

What does Acupuncture feel like?

Acupuncture needles are much thinner than hypodermic needles and are barely thicker than a human hair. They are individually wrapped, composed of sterilized stainless steel, and disposed of in biohazard containers. The sensations from needle insertion vary from person to person, and may be described as "a dull ache", "tingling", "heavy feeling", "pressure", or "warm sensation". Occasionally, a patient will feel a slight prick as the needle enters the skin, but any discomfort will go away immediately. The needles may be left in for only a few moments or up to 45 minutes. After a treatment, many people feel energized, while others feel relaxed. In some cases, patients may experience an increase is symptoms during the first 24 hours as the body initially responds to the treatment. If this is the case, symptom alleviation should be seen the next day.

Is Acupuncture safe?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. The FDA requires that sterile, nontoxic needles be used and that they be labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only. Sterile needle technique is always used. The National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) has rigorous standards which includes attendance of an accredited Acupuncture college (3000-4000 hours of study) and passing a License Exam which includes standards of hygiene, clean needle technique, and anatomical knowledge.

How does Acupuncture work?

In the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system of medicine, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle; yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. Among the major assumptions in TCM is that health is achieved by maintaining the body in a "balanced state" and that disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (vital energy, pronounced "chee") along pathways known as meridians. It is believed that there are 12 main meridians and 8 secondary meridians that circulate along the body. Positioned along these meridians are more than 2,000 Acupuncture points. Each of these points has its own functions within the body to aid in maintaining and restoring health.

Preclinical studies have documented Acupuncture's effects, but they have not been able to fully explain how Acupuncture works within the framework of the Western system of medicine commonly practiced in the United States. It is proposed that Acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that Acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person's blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.

How many sessions will be needed?

As every person is unique, each treatment plan will be different. The severity and duration of a chief complaint will influence how many treatments are needed in order for the issue to resolve. Symptom relief is often immediate, but additional sessions may be required for lasting relief. Some patients see their symptoms resolve in fewer sessions, some require a longer and more detailed treatment plan. Acute conditions may resolve in two to three sessions, whereas a chronic, long-term ailment may take five to fifteen sessions. After a chief complaint is resolved, many patients enjoy monthly or quarterly "tune-ups" to keep their health in line.

What does the National Institute of Health say about Acupuncture use in the United States?

The report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 stated that Acupuncture is being "widely" practiced by thousands of physicians, acupuncturists, and other practitioners for relief or prevention of pain and for various other health conditions. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use by Americans, an estimated 3.1 million U.S. adults and 150,000 children had used Acupuncture in the previous year. Between the 2002 and 2007 NHIS, Acupuncture use among adults increased by approximately 1 million people.

What does the World Health Organization say about Acupuncture?

The past two decades have seen extensive studies on Acupuncture, and great efforts have been made to conduct controlled clinical trials that include the use of "sham" Acupuncture or "placebo" Acupuncture controls. Although still limited in number because of the difficulties of carrying out such trials, convincing reports, based on sound research methodology, have been published. In addition, experimental investigations on the mechanism of Acupuncture have been carried out. This research, while aimed chiefly at answering how Acupuncture works, may also provide evidence in support of its effectiveness.

What can be treated with Acupuncture?

The diseases or disorders for which Acupuncture therapy has been tested in controlled clinical trials reported in the recent literature can be classified into four categories as shown below.

Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which Acupuncture has been proved through controlled trials-to be an effective treatment:

  1. Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
  2. Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  3. Biliary colic
  4. Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  5. Dysentery, acute bacillary
  6. Dysmenorrhoea, primary
  7. Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
  8. Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  9. Headache
  10. Hypertension, essential
  11. Hypotension, primary
  12. Knee pain
  13. Labor, induction of
  14. Leukopenia
  1. Low back pain
  2. Malposition of fetus, correction of
  3. Morning sickness
  4. Nausea and vomiting
  5. Neck pain
  6. Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
  7. Periarthritis of shoulder
  8. Postoperative pain
  9. Renal colic
  10. Rheumatoid arthritis
  11. Sciatica
  12. Sprain
  13. Stroke
  14. Tennis elbow

Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which the therapeutic effect of Acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed:

  1. Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
  2. Acne vulgaris
  3. Addiction (including alcohol dependence and detoxification; opium, cocaine and heroin dependence; and tobacco dependence)
  4. Bell's palsy
  5. Bronchial asthma
  6. Cancer pain
  7. Cardiac neurosis
  8. Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
  9. Cholelithiasis
  10. Competition stress syndrome
  11. Craniocerebral injury, closed
  12. Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
  13. Earache
  14. Epidemic hemorrhagic fever
  15. Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)
  16. Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
  17. Female infertility
  18. Facial spasm
  19. Female urethral syndrome
  20. Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
  21. Gastrokinetic disturbance
  22. Gouty arthritis
  23. Hepatitis B virus carrier status
  24. Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
  25. Hyperlipemia
  26. Hypo-ovarianism
  27. Insomnia
  28. Labor pain
  29. Lactation, deficiency
  1. Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
  2. Meniere's disease
  3. Neuralgia, post-herpetic
  4. Neurodermatitis
  5. Obesity
  6. Osteoarthritis
  7. Pain due to endoscopic examination
  8. Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
  9. Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome)
  10. Postextubation in children
  11. Postoperative convalescence
  12. Premenstrual syndrome
  13. Prostatitis, chronic
  14. Pruritus
  15. Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
  16. Raynaud syndrome, primary
  17. Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection (UTI)
  18. Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  19. Retention of urine, traumatic
  20. Schizophrenia
  21. Sialism, drug-induced
  22. Sjogren's syndrome
  23. Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
  24. Spine pain, acute
  25. Stiff neck
  26. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
  27. Tietze syndrome
  28. Tourette syndrome
  29. Ulcerative colitis, chronic
  30. Urolithiasis
  31. Vascular dementia
  32. Whooping cough (pertussis)

Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which there are only individual controlled trials reporting some therapeutic effects, but for which Acupuncture is worth trying because treatment by conventional and other therapies is difficult:

  1. Chloasma
  2. Choroidopathy, central serous
  3. Color blindness
  4. Deafness
  5. Hypophrenia
  6. Irritable colon syndrome
  7. Neuropathic bladder in spinal cord injury
  8. Pulmonary heart disease, chronic
  9. Small airway obstruction

Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which Acupuncture may be tried provided the practitioner has special modern medical knowledge and adequate monitoring equipment:

  1. Breathlessness in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  2. Coma
  3. Convulsions in infants
  4. Coronary heart disease (angina pectoris)
  5. Diarrhea in infants and young children
  6. Encephalitis, viral, in children, late stage
  7. Paralysis, progressive bulbar and pseudobulbar