Acupunture

Person holding their neck and back

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine, sterile filiform (not hypodermic) needles into specific locations on the body. Chinese medicine theory states that there are pathways of energy (meridians) in our bodies where a concentration of energy (Qi) flows. Our health is dependent on this Qi flow. When the flow is disrupted, symptoms arise. Acupuncture needles are inserted into acupuncture points of the meridians in order to improve Qi flow. Once healthy Qi flow is restored, symptoms improve.

Some examples of what Acupuncture can treat:

Person holding their neck and back

         Pain and headaches

Most advanced hospitals in the United States and elsewhere use acupuncture to treat pain and headaches with high success.

E-stim acupuncture on the back

Electro acupuncture

Adding low level electric stimulation to the acupuncture needles can help when pain is severe and/or intractable. 

Person bent over in pain

            Digestive discomfort

Many digestive conditions benefit from regular acupuncture treatments, including IBS and GERD.

Person receiving facial acupuncture

Cosmetic acupuncture

Cosmetic acupuncture addresses fine lines and scarring as well as treating the whole person. Underlying health conditions are addressed to support the skin and overall health. 

Sketch of lungs in cross-section

         Acupuncture and stop        smoking 

Acupuncture can help you break addiction, including a strong smoking habit. 

A woman's pregnant belly

Fertilty

Acupuncture is recommended for individuals and couples struggling with fertility and those going through IVF. Acupuncture has been shown in studies to improve IVF outcomes.

 

Q & A about acupuncture

How soon will I feel better?

It depends on many factors. Some conditions improve significantly and very quickly while other issues can be a bit more stubborn. In cases of chronic pain, 6-8 visits are usually recommended. Within that time frame, the patient will know if and how much the treatments are helping. Some feel pain-free after these visits and others require ongoing treatment. In general, when a person is engaging in other supportive care outside of the acupuncture office, such as healthy eating and exercise, their recovery is quicker than those who may not be doing those things.

 

Are Chinese herbs safe to take with other medicines?

When prescribed by a trained Chinese herbalist and taken in the prescribed dosage, Chinese herbal medicine is a safe and effective medicine taken alone or with other prescriptions. At your appointment the practitioner will review your medications to ensure the custom herbal formula will not interfere with your current prescriptions.

 

Are the needles disposable?

Yes. A needle will never be re-used. 

 

What is the latest theory about how acupuncture works?

There are about nine Western theories as to how acupuncture works:

  1. Augmentation of Immunity Theory suggests that needling certain acupuncture points enhances immune function.

  2. Endorphin Theory suggests that needling increases endorphin release (specifically the endorphin Enkephalin) and thus, reduces pain.

  3. Neurotransmitter Theory suggests that needling reduces inflammation and promotes feelings of well-being.

  4. Circulatory Theory suggests that needling improves circulation and smooth muscle relaxation.

  5. Gate Control Theory suggests that acupuncture can prevent the pain signal from being interpreted by the brain. According to this theory, the part of the nervous system called the “gate”, which perceives pain, will close when hit with too many impulses. Needling causes the additional impulses needed to close the gate, thus cutting off the pain signal.

  6. Motor Gate Theory suggests that needling can re-open a “stuck gate” connected to the Anterior Horn cell. The gate, when closed by a disease, stops motor impulses from reaching muscles. This theory explains how a stroke patient could benefit from acupuncture.

  7. Homeostatic or Regulatory Effect Theory suggests that needling regulates the body’s homeostasis.

  8. Bioelectric Theory suggests that needling stimulates the growth and repair of tissues.

  9. Nervous System Theories suggest that needling stimulates the CNS (central nervous system), spinal and peripheral nerves, resulting in some of the above-mentioned effects.

 

What can I expect during an acupuncture session?

For your first visit:

  • The acupuncturist will go over your health history with you and answer any questions you may have about the treatment before needles are inserted.

  • Needles are placed and retained for approximately 30 minutes.

  • The needles are removed.

  • You will check out at the front desk and will have the opportunity to schedule a follow-up visit if needed.

 

For follow-up visits:

  • Wait in the waiting area until the acupuncturist comes out to greet you and lead you to the treatment area.

  • You will have an opportunity to share your progress with the acupuncturist.

  • Needles will be inserted and retained for approximately 20-30 minutes.

  • The needles are removed.

  • You will check out at the front desk and will have the opportunity to schedule a follow-up visit if needed.

 

Where can I find studies on acupuncture?

Visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.  

 

Does it hurt?

Generally, there is minimal discomfort, if any, with the insertion of the needles. Some may say it is akin to a mosquito bite or even less pain than that.

 

How can acupuncture influence my reproductive health?

Acupuncture is generally thought to increase blood flow to the uterus, improve follicular quality, and improve uterine lining. Additionally, there is the benefit of stress reduction.

 

When, during my cycle should I get acupuncture treatments?

Acupuncture treatments should be done on a regular basis throughout your menstrual cycle. While fertility drugs provide a powerful effect for a short duration, acupuncture treatments have a cumulative effect. The effects of regular acupuncture can produce significant long lasting benefits.

 

I will be undergoing IVF. When should I start acupuncture treatments?

Acupuncture has a cumulative effect and is therefore most beneficial after a series or treatments have been administered. For a woman, a regular menstrual cycle, free of PMS, is one indication of a healthy and balanced body, capable of pregnancy. In most cases, it can take a minimum 3 months of weekly treatments to achieve this. If it is not possible to commit to this recommended schedule, acupuncture immediately before and after IVF has shown to significantly improve IVF outcomes.

 

As I receive acupuncture for fertility support, how will I know it’s helping?

One of the best methods to track improvement is to keep track of your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) chart. Changes in temperature, luteal-phase pattern and follicular-phase pattern can determine, to some extent, hormonal improvements. Reduced PMS is another indication that your body is moving toward better health. Other changes to look for are better sleep, improved digestion and better energy.

 

Can acupuncture alter my hormone levels?

Acupuncture is generally thought to influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. Therefore, improvement in hormonal balance occurs over time.