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What is Acupuncture?   

Acupuncture is an effective form of health care that has evolved into a holistic medical system. Practitioners of acupunture and Asian medicine have used this system to diagnose and help millions of people get well and stay healthy.

An acupuncturist will place very fine and sterile needles at specific points on the body to activate the body's Qi and promote natural healing. It is a safe, painless, and effective way to improve overall health and treat a wide variety of medical problems.

What is Qi and how does it travel?

Qi (pronounced "chee") is the vital energy that flows throughout the body. Qi helps to invigorate the body and protect it from illness, pain and disease. A person's health is affected by the quality, quantity, and balances of Qi.  

What can affect Qi?
Physical and emotional trauma, stress, lack  of exercise, overexertion, seasonal changes, diet, accidents or excessive activity can lead to a blockage or imbalance of Qi.

What will your acupuncturist do?

During the initial exam, your health history will be taken. You will be asked questions regarding symptoms, health, and lifestyle. Your acupuncturist may also check your pulses and tongue and conduct a physical exam. These information will then be organized to generate a complete diagnosis of where Qi has become blocked or imbalanced.

What is the purpose of feeling your pulses?

There are 6 pulse positions on each wrist totaling 12 pulse positions that your acupuncturist will palpate. Each pulse position corresponds to a specific meridian and organ. Your acupuncturist will be looking for 27 individual qualities that reflect your overall health. If there are problems, they may reflect in your pulse.

What is the purpose of looking at your tongue?                                                                                                                                                         Different area of the tongue reflects the general health of the different organs and merdians. Your acupuncturist will look at the shape, color, cracks, and coating on your tongue which tells the condition of your body.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments will vary for each individual. Some people experience immediate relief whereas others may take weeks or months to achieve results. Chronic conditions usually take longer to achieve results than acute ones. Treatment frequency depends on a variety of factors including constitution, the severity and duration of the problem, and the quality and quantity of your Qi.

What will you expect during treatment?

You may feel a vague numbness, tingling, heaviness or dull ache in the area where acupuncture needle has been inserted. A sensation of energy spreading and moving around the needle may also be felt. All these sensations are good signs that the treatment is working. After treatment, you may feel energized or experience a sense of relaxation and well-being.

How should you prepare for acupuncture treatment?
Ask any questions that you may have - we are here to help! Wear loose and comfortable clothings for easy access to acupuncture points. Avoid eating big meals right before or after your visit. Refrain from over-exertion, exercise, drugs or alcohol for up to 6 hours after visit. Avoid stressful situations. Take time to relax and get plenty of rest. Between visits, take notes of any changes that may have occured.

Do the needles hurt?
The needles are tiny and just a bit thicker than a human hair. The sensation caused by an acupuncture needle varies. Some people feel a little pain as the needles are being inserted, but most people feel no pain at all.

How deep do they go?
The depth of the insertion varies depending on the needling technique used, the location of the acupuncture points, the size of the patient, etc. Typically, needles are inserted at depths ranging from 1/8" to 1 1/2".

How safe is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is extremely safe. It is a natural and drug-free therapy which yields no side effects other than potential benefits. As stated by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in its first formal endorsement of acupuncture in November 1997, one of hte advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions. Also, the risk of infection from acupuncture is extremely low since needles are sterile, used once, and then discarded.

Is acupuncture safe for children?

Yes. In some case, children respond more quickly than adults. For children who have an aversion to needles, acupressure or tuina may be used instead. Acupressure and tuina are massage techniques that stimulate the acupuncture points on the meridians to facilitate the flow of Qi or energy.

What types of schooling do acupuncturists get?

In California, acupuncturists receive 3-4 years of extensive and comprehensive graduate training at nationally certified schools. All acupuncturists must pass a state or national exam and meet strict guidelines to be allowed to practice in every state.

What is cupping?

Cupping is a form of therapy by which an acupuncturist will place small glass or plastic "cups" over specific areas on your body. By using heat or suction, a vaccum is created under the cups to increase warmth and stimulate the flow of Qi and blood within the superficial muscle layers.

What is Gwa Sha?
A specialized tool is used to gently scrape or rub the skin over a problem area to release muscle tension, tightness, and constriction.

What is Tui Na?

Tui Na (translates as "push grab") is a massage technique that moves Qi in various parts of the body. It is used to relieve muscle pain, tension, and inflammation and to heal injuries.

What is Moxibustion?

Moxibustion is a treatment that uses an herb called mugwort which may be burned on the handle of the needle, above the skin, on salt or on a slice of ginger. This is used to "warm" acupuncture points or certain areas in order to quicken the healing process.

Why do your acupuncturist recommend herbs?

Herbs can be a powerful adjunct to acupuncture care. They can be used to expedite the healing process and strengthen the body and are prescribed in various forms: raw herbs boiling into tea, liquid extracts, pills or powders.

Will your insurance cover acupuncture?

Insurance coverage varies from state to state. Contact your insurance provider to learn what kind of care is covered.

Is the cost of acupuncture treatment an eligible expense for Cafeteria Flexible Spending Account Plan?

Generally, yes if the cost of an acupuncture treatment is to treat a medical condition. Please consult with your tax advisor for the deductibility of your cost of acupuncture treatment. 

How much does it cost?

Rates vary and depend on what procedures are performed. For further information, please feel free to call our office. 

General Background Information

When was acupuncture first introduced to America and how much influence did it hold?

Acupuncture and Asian medicine is one of the newest primary health care professions in California. Since it was introduced in the 1970s, more than 15 million Americans have tried acupuncture and Asian medicine.

What was the first coverage of acupuncture in the news media?

In the early 1970s, newspaper journalists covering President Richard Nixon's visit to China wrote about a healing art which was virtually unknown in the United States at that time.

How did this affect the perspective of acupuncture in America?

The journalists reported that Chinese acupuncturists were able to block the pain of surgery by inserting needles into patients at specfic points without the use of chemical anesthetics. It was also mentioned that acupuncture had relieved a wide variety of illnesses. This recognition brought acupuncture into great demand by many Americans, some of whom were seeking remedies for serious medical problems.

Which state first recognized acupuncture and began licensing acupuncturists?  

In 1976, the State of California began licensing acupuncturists. It was the first state in the nation to recognize qualified practitioners as primary health care professionals in 1979.