Frequently asked questions about acupuncture
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of healing in the world. The fact that acupuncture continues to be practiced today is strong proof of the power of this medicine.
Acupuncture is the use of painless, ultra-fine disposable needles, which are inserted at specific points of the body to very precisely redirect the flow of qi. There are over three hundred sixty acupoints on the body. Each has its own specific function. Ultimately, acupuncture decreases the body’s stress and inflammatory response, allowing the body to operate in a more healthy state.
A typical session can last from fifteen to forty minutes, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the desired outcome. After a treatment, most patients feel relaxed and rejuvenated with partial or total relief of symptoms treated.
How does Acupuncture Work?
Western View: Acupuncture increases circulation, decreases inflammation, and releases endorphins and opioids which are natural pain-relievers, and supports immune system cells as well as neurotransmitters and neurohormones in the brain. Research has shown that adenosene, opioeds, and other blood-stream chemicals become elevated after acupuncture, that acupuncture points correspond with junctions of intermuscular fascia and have a lower electrical resistance than the surrounding areas. There is evidence that stimulating acupuncture points enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at a greater rate than under normal conditions. This may increase the flow of healing or pain-killing natural chemicals to injured areas.
People who have never experienced acupuncture before are often a little unsure of it. Sticking needles into people to promote health can seem a bit counter intuitive at first. But acupuncture is a very effective way of controlling and dealing with many different health problems.
Eastern View: There are more than 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body that connect with 12 main “meridians”. Pain and disease are the result of these becoming blocked. By placing needles at strategic points on the channel, healthy energy can be restored.
Acupuncture is based on the idea of Qi (pronounced "chee"), also referred to as life energy. This energy is essentially the difference between a person and a corpse - one is full of activity, while the other is not. The energy in the body is divided into numerous different aspects and activities, all the different jobs our body does - from digesting food, to keeping us warm, to thinking and running. In health, all the different aspects of our body work together as harmonious members of a smooth functioning whole, like all the different instruments in a symphony - each has its part and contributes exactly what is needed at just the right time to produce harmonious results.
But we are subject to numerous stressors, less than ideal dietary conditions, poor lifestyle choices, inherited deficiencies, and other such factors. These things tax our system, putting pressure on it from numerous different directions, overworking various aspects of our body’s resources. Over time, some aspects of our body's energy can become significantly overworked and are then unable to do their jobs as efficiently as they might. This in turn can force another aspect of the body to overwork. This imbalance in the body slowly works its way forward and manifests as symptoms and disease.
Acupuncture can provide quick and thorough solutions to numerous health problems. While acupuncture is widely recognized for its ability to treat pain, it is by no means limited to symptom alleviation. Acupuncture can control a wide variety of health problems, including all types of digestive disorders, female reproductive issues (including infertility), pre- and post-natal care, insomnia, asthma, allergies, immune enhancement, athletic performance, musculo-skeletal issues, hypertension, emotional health, and many, many other conditions.
Acupuncture is a relatively light intervention with virtually no side effects, unlike many prescription medications, and it's a phenomenally effective way for people to control their health naturally with results that endure. Many people come to acupuncture after having limited help with other more typical forms of medical treatment and find that there is an entire world of very productive health care options waiting for them with acupuncture. Acupuncture has something to offer everyone, from those wishing to enhance their athletic performance to those managing a terminal disease, and everyone in between. It allows you body to make best use of its resources so that you can do your best in any given situation. Don't wait until you're sick, discover how to maximize your health and build for your future now.
How should I prepare for treatment?
If possible, please try to wear comfortable clothing for your appointment. Depending on your treatment needs, you may often remain fully clothed during your treatment. However, gowns and linens are always available if your treatment makes partial disrobing appropriate. Please eat sensibly a few hours before your appointment. It is best to be neither hungry nor extremely full during your treatment.
What are the needles like?
Acupuncture needles are as fine as a hair. They are stainless steel, solid, sterile, disposable, and can be inserted almost painlessly. They are nothing like the hypodermic needles you’ve experienced getting a shot or vaccination at the doctor’s office. Acupuncture needles are solid and very thin with a fine, even point that easily passes through the skin. Hypodermic needles for shots are hollow and quite thick (to allow a medication to pass through the needle into your body), with a wider, angled point that causes a lot of pain as it breaks the skin. Acupuncture needles do not inject anything into your body. Much of the lasting pain and discomfort associated with hypodermic needles is due to the medications injected into your body.
Acupuncture needles are flexible. Although it is preferable to keep movement to a minimum, it is not necessary to remain uncomfortably still during an acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture needles are inserted into the soft tissues of the body—not into veins or nerves. Points do not usually bleed during or after treatment, although a very small drop of blood may occasionally be seen after removal of an acupuncture needle.
Acupuncture treatment can be so effective, and has so few side effects that most patients agree the benefits they receive from treatment far outweigh any concerns they originally had about the use of needles.
Does it hurt?
Although it involves needles, acupuncture does not hurt. Katie has mastered the technique with minimal discomfort to the patient. Most patients are surprised by how comfortable they are when the needles go in. In fact, many patients do not even feel the needles being inserted; most patients relax and some even fall asleep. The most common feeling during needling is of light pressure and distention around the point. Needles remain in place for fifteen to forty minutes.
Usually relaxation and an elevation of spirit accompany treatment. It is as normal to want to continue resting as it is to be immediately energized. Acupuncture is usually a very positive experience that most people look forward to and enjoy. Even if you are particularly wary or afraid of needles, you’ll likely enjoy acupuncture treatment.
Is acupuncture safe?
Very. When performed by a competently trained, licensed professional, both Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine are extremely safe. In fact, when practiced correctly, they have no side effects. If a patient reports any discomfort, the practitioner modifies the treatment until there is healing without side-effects. This is because this medicine seeks to restore balance to the entire person, not just the body part or system. Side-effects indicate there is an imbalance that needs to be corrected.
Your safety and well-being is our primary concern. We use the highest quality disposable equipment available. Our needles are individually packaged, sterile and disposable. So there is virtually no chance of infection or contagion. We encourage our patients to continue all current treatments, therapies and medications as safely advised by their physicians. As with any type of treatment, you should always inform us of all medications you are taking as well as any underlying health conditions you may have or have previously experienced. You should also inform us if you are or could possibly be pregnant.
Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?
Yes. In fact it’s fantastic, and I believe very important, during pregnancy. Acupuncture is used to alleviate many typical pregnancy-related complaints, including anything from nausea to sciatica. During each stage of pregnancy, there are certain points that should be used and others that should be avoided. Following these guidelines ensures safety of both the mother and the fetus.
Can I exercise or go back to work after my treatment?
Yes, you may return to your normal activities shortly after your treatment.
What should I expect from my first acupuncture treatment?
A comprehensive intake of your health history will be taken to learn more about how your symptoms interrelate. Every detail sheds light on the root cause of your condition. Other diagnostic tools include observing the tongue, taking the pulse and palpating the abdomen. After the needles are inserted, I will leave you to relax for about 30 to 45 minutes. For more information, see here.
What results can I expect from my treatment?
Everybody experiences the effects of acupuncture a little differently. Depending on the type of problem being treated, many people may notice the benefits almost immediately, while others need a few treatments before they feel a difference. Some people become very relaxed while others may feel euphoric or energized. People who don't feel any different when they leave the clinic may start to notice changes in their symptoms hours to days later.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments required to resolve a condition depends upon the nature of the condition, your lifestyle tendency and constitution. Most patients usually notice some type of shift in their condition within the first treatment and even greater changes after the fourth or fifth. Acupuncture treatments have a cumulative effect.
How often will I need to be treated?
We will recommend a schedule of treatments that will provide the fastest response. The frequency varies from case to case. Usually we start with once a week, sometimes twice a week, and as you feel better, we increase the time between visits.
How long will the results last?
This varies with the individual. Usually, the first visit’s results are short-lived and subsequent treatments provide longer lasting improvement and greater degrees of change. If treatment is consistent, response will accelerate as the treatments progress.
Will insurance pay?
We do accept insurance! We will call to verify coverage and check benefits for you. You are responsible for your deductible, co-payment, and any non-covered or excluded amounts under your policy. If your insurance company does not cover acupuncture, I will gladly give you a receipt for all of your treatments so you can submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.
What about Herbs?
Herbs are an essential component of Chinese Medicine. They treat the underlying condition and rarely cause unwanted side-effects. Many western drugs are derived from herbs, by isolating and concentrating a specific chemical component. This is what leads to unwanted side-effects- stripping away important components of the herb that help it achieve its desired effect while keeping it in balance. In herbal medicine, we usually combine 6 – 12 herbs together in a formula; they all work synergistically together and are tailored to your specific constitution and condition. Western drugs often control symptoms, but do not alter the disease process or “heal” and often cause further problems. For instance, antibiotics eliminate bacteria but do not improve a person's resistance to infection; diuretics rid excess fluids but do not improve Kidney function. Herbal formulas help resolve symptoms while simultaneously treating the underlying cause. I am convinced that if it were legal to patent herbal medicines, meaning drug companies could make drug-like profits from them, that they would be in more widespread use.
Looking for Denver area acupuncture and Chinese Medicine? Contact us today.