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Frequently Asked Questions About Acupuncture Treatments

What can I expect from an Acupuncture treatment?

When you go to a practitioner of Oriental medicine do not expect it to be like a visit to a Western doctor. Oriental medicine practitioners depend highly on what we see, feel, smell and hear during your meeting with us, and use little or no modern medical equipment. Practitioners are more interested in the overall picture of you than the complaint that brought you there. In the course of your first interview, which may take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more, we will ask detailed questions about your health, diet and lifestyle while we try to learn more about who you are and what influences are at work in your life and upon your health. We will take your pulse on both wrists, at three places on each side. We will look at your tongue. We may press on some acupuncture points on your body to test for tenderness, or press gently on your abdomen. When we are done, we will then make a working diagnosis and begin your treatment with acupuncture, herbs, moxibustion, cupping or all of these.

Do I have to believe in Acupuncture for it to work?

The role of the mind in healing cannot be understated. However, acupuncture works whether you believe in it or not. Acupuncturists around the world (Jeanie Marie included) successfully treat animals with acupuncture every day. Horses, dogs and other animals don't "believe" in acupuncture, they're just happy that it works.

What does an Acupuncture treatment feel like? Does it hurt?

People often ask if acupuncture will hurt. Many practitioners quickly answer "No, of course not!" If Western MDs can get away with calling some of their procedures "a bit uncomfortable," we can be excused for saying that acupuncture is painless. In general, most patients expect that they will feel the needles being inserted through the skin, but often you won't feel that at all, especially if you are relaxed. On the other hand acupuncture is not without sensations. Once needles are placed you may feel a dull, distending, heavy feeling around one or more of the needles. You may feel some undefinable energy or temperature sensation moving in a limb or through your body. One of the needles may feel warm, while another feels cool. When the first needles are inserted you may feel a wave of warmth rising up in your body. There are all sorts of mild sensations that can be expected during a treatment. They are subtle. They are the effects of Qi.

Is acupuncture safe?

There are no known negative side effects of acupuncture. The needles we use are sterile and disposable.

How long will my appointment last?

Your first treatment will last from 60 to 90 minutes. Follow up treatments take about an hour.

What will I feel after the treatment?

Most people find acupuncture treatment very relaxing and many report feelings of well-being, sleepiness and even mild euphoria. On the other hand some people have long overdue emotional releases during acupuncture. Others say that treatments are energizing and practically dance out of the room. Some are inspired to poetry, others to boredom. In short, there are as many responses to acupuncture as there are patients and all these responses are completely normal, expected and part of the healing process.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

Each person is unique and will respond to treatment differently. The length of treatment depends on the type, severity and duration of the condition. In general you should notice some change in your condition, even if just a small one, within eight to ten acupuncture treatments for chronic conditions and two to four treatments for acute conditions. If you do not experience a change in that time frame, don't give up on acupuncture. After all, if you go to your family physician and he or she gives you a drug that fails to quickly and completely cure your condition, do you give up on Western medicine?

Discuss your progress with your acupuncturist. It may be that your condition is unusually tenacious, or it may be time to change some aspect of the treatment. By keeping us up to date on your progress you are taking a partnership role in your healing.

I'm not feeling well, should I cancel my appointment?

It's very kind of you to want to protect us from your cold or flu, but one of the best times to get an acupuncture treatment is when your body needs help fighting a viral or bacterial infection like colds and flu. Chinese medicine hasn't found a sure-fire cure for the common cold yet, but many symptoms such as fever, headache, sinus congestion, coughing, nausea, and other unpleasantness can be helped greatly with acupuncture, cupping and Chinese herbs.

Can Oriental medicine help keep me from getting sick?

One of the strongest areas of Chinese medicine is prevention. Among ancient acupuncturists keeping patients healthy was a higher calling than treating disease. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine is wonderful for maintaining general well-being, stress-reduction and immune function. Many patients will visit an acupuncturist at the change of seasons, or before a stressful event to rebalance their Qi.

Are there good books you can recommend to learn more?

  • Asian Health Secrets, Letha Hadady, Three Rivers Press, New York, 1996
  • Between Heaven and Earth, Harriet Beinfeld and Efrem Korngold, Ballentine Books, New York, 1991
  • The Web That Has No Weaver, Ted Kaptchuk, Contemporary Books, Chicago, 2000
  • Healing With Whole Foods, Paul Pritchford, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, 1993