Practicing holistic medicine involves treating the person on multiple levels – physical, emotional and spiritual, an approach fundamentally dependent on practitioner forging an active partnership with the person seeking help. Developing a deep understanding of an individual’s energetic make-up, unique personal dynamics, experience, circumstances, and habits allows the practitioner to design customized treatment plans to address the person’s health concerns, suggest relevant lifestyle modifications, and devise effective strategies to promote wellness and prevent disease in the future.
Since the relationship between practitioner and patient is such a crucially significant part of the alchemy of healing, selecting a right practitioner is critical. Therefore, it is important to speak with the acupuncturist at least briefly before making a decision. Is there a connection? Do you feel understood and accepted?
Finally, what is the practitioner’s level of training? Those who graduate from AACAOM accredited acupuncture programs have completed approximately 3000 hours of combined classroom and clinical study of acupuncture. Certification in Chinese Herbal medicine requires extensive additional education. In addition, licensed practitioners in good standing are required to satisfy continuing professional education requirements to maintain their status.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture is an integral part of Oriental Medicine, the longest existing continuous medical system practiced in the world that can be traced back at least 2,500 years. The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that energy, called qi flows along specific pathways, called meridians that lie just beneath the skin throughout the body. Each of these channels corresponds to a specific physiological systems and inner organs, forming an energetic map of the body that provides unique insight into the state of your health. Disruptions or blockages in the flow of qi are believed to lead to pain, impediment of function, or illness. Acupuncture therapy is used to correct imbalances of the qi flow to evoke the body’s natural healing response through various energetic and physiological systems, restoring the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of being.
In terms of Western scientific understanding of how acupuncture works, modern research has demonstrated stimulating acupuncture points results in a broad spectrum of systemic chemical and physiological changes affecting the nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular and digestive systems, mediates the body's immune response, increases central and peripheral circulation, and reduces inflammation helping alleviate pain, improve function, and restore health and vitality.
How Are Imbalances Affecting The Body Diagnosed?
The energetic imbalances in the body are determined by the practitioner through what is known as the four basic examinations, constituting the cornerstone of Chinese Medical diagnosis.The first examination involves questioning one about their signs and symptoms while taking into account their personal and family health history. The second examination consists of visually inspecting one’s face, body and tongue, with the emphasis placed on examining the coating, color and any demarcations. The third examination is comprised of listening to one’s voice and the sound of one’s breathing as well as noting any odors emanating from their body. The fourth examination is based on obtaining clinically relevant information by palpating various parts of the body and taking pulses on both sides of the wrists. Incorporating the four examinations allows the practitioner to determine the pattern of disharmony, and formulate a comprehensive diagnosis, which in turn determines the course of treatment required to bring the person back into balance.
How Does Acupuncture Restore Balance?
The practice of acupuncture involves superficial insertion of needles into designated points on the body. There are more than three hundred of these points with each one having a specific and unique effect on the person’s energetics. A competent practitioner is trained to formulate a comprehensive diagnosis, design a treatment plan custom-tailored to address the person’s need and concerns, and combine individual points in a way best suited to effectively treat them.
In addition to acupuncture, such modalities as Chinese herbal therapy, moxibustion, cupping, or gua-sha may be employed to enhance and support the healing process. A practitioner may also use tuina massage, or prescribe meditation and exercises like Tai Chi or Qi Gong. A strong emphasis is also put on relevant modifications to diet and lifestyle.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
The practice of acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into various points on the body. When practiced by a trained professional, acupuncture is an exceptionally safe, natural, effective and side-effect free form of therapy. Acupuncture treatments are drug-free, and thus pose no risk of drug interactions or dependencies. To ensure utmost safety you should always disclose any pre-existing conditions, current medications, and pregnancy.
What Are Acupuncture Needles Like?
Modern acupuncture needles are sterile, disposable and about as fine as a strand of hair. The needles are solid, not hollow like the hypodermic needles used for injections, and have a smooth and rounded tip, so when an acupuncture needle is inserted, the round edge pushes the tissues aside without cutting it.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Everyone interprets sensations they are feeling differently and have different pain level thresholds. feels pain at different levels and. Placement of needles into various acupuncture points during a treatment often involves “da qi”, a sensation variously described as electric current, heaviness, distension, dull ache or tingling that dissipates within a few seconds after the insertion. Some points are more reactive than others and some people are very sensitive to exterior stimuli, whereas others feel no sensation at all. That being said, many patients find the experience comfortable and deeply relaxing and even fall asleep during a session.
Do I Have to Believe in Acupuncture For It To Work?
No. Acupuncture works whether or not you think it will. Acupuncture is used successfully on small children and animals that do not understand or believe in the process, yet get better anyway. A positive attitude helps with any type of therapy, but it is not necessary to believe in acupuncture for it to work.
As positive expectations and belief in a particular therapy help to increase therapeutic results, I encourage you to raise any questions, concerns or doubts you may have about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and I will be happy to discuss them with you, so that you may have the most positive healing experience possible.
Is There Anything That I Must Do Before Treatment?
I recommend you spend some time thinking about what you would like to achieve from your acupuncture treatment. Do you have any questions or concerns you would like to discuss? What are your expectations? The more openly we can communicate, the better I can help you.
Be realistic. If you have several conditions or symptoms you would like to address, rank them in order of importance to you. On your first visit, I will probably focus primarily on your chief complaint and related symptoms. Secondary issues will also be noted and addressed as treatment progresses.
I ask you fill out the new patient forms ahead of time, to avoid having to use appointment time to complete them. Set aside enough time so that you are not rushing to and from your visit. Physical strain or stress immediately before or after acupuncture session can weaken your body and diminish the efficacy of the treatment, so please take it into consideration when scheduling your visit.
Eat a light meal about two hours before a treatment, since hunger increases the risk of nausea or dizziness during the treatment. Acupuncture also cannot be performed on persons who are excessively fatigued, upset, or intoxicated.
Wear loose fitting clothes that can be easily rolled up above your elbows and knees. A drape can also be provided for your convenience.
What Should I Expect At The First Visit?
We start by exploring your concerns which can focus primarily on physical symptoms, or may involve other aspects of your life, such as feeling anxious, depressed, lost or overwhelmed. Regardless of the presentation, it is crucial that there is a common understanding of the treatment goal and changes you would like to achieve.
The next step involves reviewing the intake questionnaire you completed prior to your arrival, which includes a broad range of questions including not only your medical history but diet, emotions, lifestyle and key physical characteristics. Again, I want a thorough understanding of your overall physical and emotional state so I can better help you to set on your path to wellness.
We then do an initial assessment, during which I examine your pulses and tongue. I may also palpate the body to find areas of tenderness and energy blockages or just lightly touch an area and listen to the body’s energy, all of which help me determine the cause of the imbalance and decide on the appropriate course of treatment.
What Can I Expect After Treatment?
Individual responses to acupuncture vary. Some people may feel immediate relief and some may feel only a slight decrease of their symptoms. Many people notice better sleep and mood, a sense of feeling more grounded, and improved ability to handle stress. In a few cases, there may be no immediate change only to notice the symptoms diminish over the next few days. It is common to feel a sense of relaxation and calm following the treatment.
How Quickly Can I Expect to Feel Better?
Some patients experience dramatic results with just one or two treatments, while others see results build over several treatments. Most people experience better energy levels and a feeling of improved vitality and well-being after the first treatment. In general, some relief should be apparent in two to three treatments. If the problem is acute, sometimes improvement is felt after just one treatment, and may only need a few treatments to resolve. If the condition is chronic and long-term, it may require six to eight treatments to improve and many more to resolve.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
Generally speaking, the course of treatment depends on the nature and individual response, as well as the severity and duration of the condition. While many problems can be fixed quickly, some conditions may be relieved only with time and effort. An acute condition may only need two to three sessions, whereas chronic conditions may take many treatments to resolve, and some degenerative conditions may require ongoing treatments over time for maintenance. The person’s constitutional health and compliance play a major role in the healing process. The practitioner may suggest diet and lifestyle changes as well as exercise and relaxation techniques. As powerful as this medicine is, much of the healing is dependent upon the patient’s commitment to the healing process.
How Often Should I Be Treated?
Typically, I treat patients once a week. If the condition is acute and painful, I may want to see you two or even three times per week for the first couple weeks. The benefits of acupuncture tend to last longer as the treatments progress, so after a while I may want to see you once in two weeks or a month and then only periodically for maintenance.
Does Acupuncture Always Help?
No, but usually it does. About 90% of patients have a positive response to acupuncture. If you do not feel any benefits after your initial course of treatment, then acupuncture may not work for you.
What If I'm Healthy, Can I Still Benefit From Treatment?
Absolutely! Acupuncture is a scientifically proven form of preventive medicine, with benefits that include strengthening the immune function, stress reduction, and sleep improvement to name just a few. Most patients discover that they enjoy the benefits of acupuncture, even if they are healthy. Once the original health complaint has been resolved, monthly or seasonal treatments are typically recommended to help maintain optimal health.
Does Insurance Cover Acupuncture?
Coverage depends on your particular plan. More and more policies include acupuncture because of its cost-efficiency and effectiveness, and because consumers have shown willingness to pay for the benefit of having acupuncture coverage as part of their plan, but many do not. While I do not accept any insurance plans at present, if your health insurance policy covers acupuncture treatments, I will be happy to provide you with an itemized and coded receipt that can be submitted to your insurance company for reimbursement.
17 Hanover Road, Suite #230
Florham Park, NJ 07932