Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

What is acupuncture? What is Chinese Medicine?

Through the insertion of fine needles in various parts of the body, acupuncture taps into your innate healing response to help reduce pain, decrease inflammation, boost your immune system, reset your digestive system, and bring balance back to your body. While this system has been around for thousands of years, today, the World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as an effective modality to treat over 30 diseases.

You may be surprised to learn that acupuncture is actually just one (albeit the most famous) tool used by Chinese medicine practitioners. It was the first to be brought to the United States from China during the Nixon administration and since, has had the most spotlight. Chinese medicine practitioners use Traditional Chinese Medicine theory to view the body and its energetic properties as a whole, carefully balanced, system. When disease arises, disharmony is identified, and the best tool, or combination of, is selected for the treatment. The other most commonly used tools a Chinese medicine practitioner may utilize include herbal medicine, cupping, moxibustion, Gua Sha, Tui Na, Tai Qi, and nutrition. All of these tools work together to harmonize imbalances and restore optimum health

What can acupuncture and Chinese medicine help with?

  • Chronic and acute pain (low back pain, sciatica, neck pain, arthritis (RA & OA), headaches, migraines, neuropathy)
  • Digestive system disfunction (constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, Crohn’s, IBS, leaky gut syndrome)
  • Gynecological disorders (painful periods, irregular periods, endometriosis, infertility)
  • Obstetrics (morning sickness, sciatica, heartburn, indigestion, fatigue)
  • Hormonal imbalance (PCOS, hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, diabetes, menopause, testosterone decline, infertility)
  • Autoimmune disorders (multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Lupus, Celiac’s, diabetes, Sjögren’s)
  • Mental health (anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, postpartum depression, PTSD)
  • Dermatological health (psoriasis, eczema, acne, fine lines & wrinkles)
  • Adjunctive care to chemotherapy (neuropathy, nausea, fatigue, pain)
  • Insomnia
  • Allergies

Who benefits from acupuncture and Chinese medicine? Do I have to have to have something wrong to try it?

Everyone can benefit from acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The foundation of this system is total body wellness in order to prevent or delay the onset of disease and optimize your health. A regular regimen of acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help to keep your body functioning at its best as well as help get you back on your feet when it’s not.

What could I expect from my appointment?

The first appointment will be approximately 90 minutes long. In this session a detailed history will be taken to address current health concerns/wellness goals in addition to your past health history (the good, the bad, and the “TMI”).  There will be a brief physical exam. All of this information is utilized to determine the root of your health concern(s) or to identify what is preventing you from achieving your health goals, through Chinese medicine theory. Through this process, measurable outcomes and goals will be identified and tracked throughout your course of treatment. Treatments will then consist of acupuncture, cupping, herbal medicine, and/or diet and lifestyle changes. An acupuncture or cupping treatment will be 30 – 40 minutes in duration (this is included in the 90-minute initial appointment time). It takes approximately 5 minutes to insert the needles and then you will relax with the needles in for 30 – 35 minutes (most patients call this an “acu nap”). Follow up appointments will be 45 – 60 minutes in duration depending on the complexity of your health concern and goals.

When will I see results?

Patients usually see results around 6-8 treatments, on average, but this can vary based on the complexity of what we are treating. Something you can think about is how long it took for this ailment to develop. This can be a good indication of a more quick or lengthy treatment timeline. With that being said, almost every patient feels more calm, relaxed, and peaceful at the end of every appointment.

Is it safe? Are there any side effects? Will it interact with any other medications I’m taking?

Yes, acupuncture is safe. The skin is cleaned before insertion of each needle into the body. The needles are inserted away from any organs, major arteries, veins, or nerves (acupuncturists have extensive anatomy training for this very reason). The needles themselves, with no medications, or herbal concoctions on them, are sterile, stainless steel and single use. There is no risk of interaction with any prescribed medications or other supplements you may be taking with the acupuncture needles. Side effects, although not common, may be slight bleeding after needle removal, bruising, dizziness, or nausea. If you are taking a blood thinner this may increase your risk of bleeding or bruising.

Yes, Chinese herbal medicine is also safe. As a part of our Chinese medicine education we learn not only Chinese herbal medicine but also western pharmacology and drug-herb interactions. Before prescribing any herbal medicines, your current diet is evaluated as well as all prescribed medications or supplements you are taking to ensure there are no potential interactions.

Is it painful?The insertion of an acupuncture needle will feel like a quick pinch, depending on the area of the body it may be more sensitive or, you may not feel it at all. After the initial insertion you may feel nothing, you may feel warmth, pressure, or aching around the needle. Both are perfectly normal. While this may be a new sensation, it should not be painful. Most patients are so relaxed they fall asleep while needles are being inserted.

What should I bring to my first appointment?

Please bring any recent blood work, labs, or imaging that pertains to your health concern or goals. Be sure to eat something light within 1 hour of the appointment, drink plenty of water the day of, and wear loose comfortable clothing.

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