What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a traditional form of medicine that has been practiced in China for over 3000 years. The concepts of acupuncture are based on the movements of the elements in nature and our relationship with those movements. Acupuncture and other healing techniques, such as moxibustion, cupping, and gua sha influence the body’s energy in order to assist nature and facilitate healing on a body, mind, or spirit level. This modality of healing views the patient as whole and searches for the root cause of disease, rather than just treating symptoms. One of the main goals of acupuncture is to bring a person’s mind, body, and spirit into balance, which is the way to begin healing on all levels.
How does Acupuncture work?
The theories of Chinese medicine state the body’s life force is responsible for controlling the body functions as well as its organs. This life force is referred to as Qi (pronounced chee), and it flows through twelve interconnected meridians of the body. These meridians are viewed as the rivers that feed and nourish one’s organs. Occasionally, the meridians can become out of balance, and this imbalance is what leads to disease. An acupuncturist uses certain points on the body to influence a person’s Qi. When the needles are inserted into these points, it touches the life force to influence a change within the body, mind, or spirit.
How long does a treatment last?
The length of a treatment session will vary depending upon the patient’s concerns, how long they have been receiving treatment, and their lifestyle. Generally, the initial intake appointment will last for approximately 1 ½ - 2 hours and follow up appointments will last for about an hour.
Why am I being asked questions about my bodily functions (i.e. bowels, urination, menstrual cycle, etc)?
An acupuncturist uses several methods to diagnose how to treat each patient. These methods include what we refer to as The Four Inspections: to see, to feel, to ask, and to touch. The Four Inspections teach us a great deal about each patient’s Qi or life force. In addition, they assist the acupuncturist in discovering the root of a patient’s symptoms. By thinking about how their body functions, each patient has the ability to become more aware of how well their body is operating, which types of foods nourish them, what activities feed them, and how to create beneficial lifestyle changes.
Why am I being asked about my relationships with my parents, partner, friends, etc.?
Acupuncture is more than just treating a person on a body level. Chinese medicine has the ability to touch a person on a mind or spirit level. In most cases, a symptom of the body is rooted in our mind or spirit. Our relationship with the world and with others provides the acupuncturist with diagnostic information that may be connected to a symptom within the patient’s body. Rather than strictly treating symptoms, an acupuncturist seeks out the root cause which may be buried in our interactions or relationships with the world and others.
What are the needles like?
Acupuncture Needles are about the size of a human hair and are flexible
The needles are solid and are about the size of a single hair. Unlike hypodermic needles, which are used in Western (allopathic) medicine, the needles are not hollow and are not rigid. The needles are extremely flexible. The acupuncture needles used today are sterilized and used once before being discarded. The needles vary in length because the depth of insertion varies depending upon the location of the body that is being treated. A point on the buttocks, for example, will require a longer needle than a point on the palm of the hand.
Compare the photos above, an acupuncture needle (left) and a hypodermic needle (right). A hypodermic needle is used by Western medicine for drawing blood or injections.
Does the needle hurt?
Each patient will have a different experience with the needle insertion. Some patients report not feeling any sensation, whereas other patients may experience a brief sensation of pain. This sensation may be described as numbness, achiness, or a sharp feeling. Most of the time, the initial sensation subsides after a few seconds. The pain of acupuncture needles is minimal when compared with the pain felt when a hypodermic syringe is used.
Why would I want to see an acupuncturist?
Acupuncture is a system of medicine based on wellness. People see an acupuncturist for a variety of reasons: back pain, joint pain, digestive issues, medication side effects, chronic illness, etc. Many times a patient’s actual symptoms are masked by the use of over the counter or prescription medication. Some patients have lived with significant pain or symptoms for a number of years, and they are seeking to find some relief. Acupuncture is gentle and touches a patient on a deep level. Most importantly, acupuncture can successfully treat conditions where Western (allopathic) treatments have failed. The greatest impact of acupuncture is its ability to improve a patient’s quality of life.
Chinese medicine helps to awaken the body to a deeper sense of healing. Patients begin to have a greater understanding of the connection between their mind, body, and spirit. As a patient becomes more attuned to their body, they become more empowered in making lifestyle changes that can positively impact their life. In addition, an acupuncturist can coach patients in making appropriate lifestyle changes that will feed and nourish their mind, body, and spirit.
What are the benefits of Acupuncture?
The benefits of acupuncture will vary among patients as well as frequency of treatment. Some patients have reported a variety of benefits including reduced pain, improved digestion, better quality of sleep, increased joint flexibility, reduced stress, and healthier emotional stability. Patients who are committed to improving their overall health and lifestyle generally experience greater control over their health, improved vitality, increased stamina, and healthier relationships with others.
What kind of conditions can be treated with Acupuncture
In 2003, the World Health Organization conducted an analysis of clinical trials outlining conditions in which acupuncture was an effective treatment. The study revealed that the following conditions have proven to be effectively treated with acupuncture:
- Adverse reactions to radiation treatment and/or chemotherapy
- Acute abdominal pain
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Constipation and Diarrhea
- Dysentery (intestinal inflamation)
- Gall/Kidney stones
- Depression and Anxiety
- Pain (joint, extremities, facial, back, neck, postoperative, and arthritic)
- Hypertension and Hypotension
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
- Leukopenia (decrease is white blood cells)
- Dysmenorrhoea (menstrual pain)
- Morning sickness
- Correction of fetus malposition
- Induction of labor
The study also revealed that acupuncture was therapeutic in treating the following conditions:
- Bronchial asthma
- Sore throat
- Nose bleeds
- Panic disorder
- Fibromyalgia (autoimmune disorder)
- Raynaud syndrome (autoimmune disorder)
- Sjögren syndrome (autoimmune disorder)
- Cancer related pain
- Complex regional pain syndrome (chronic pain affecting regions of the body)
- Ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disorder affecting the large intestine)
- Postoperative convalescence
- Diabetes (Type II)
- Urinary-tract infection
- Female urethral syndrome (urinary pain and constant urge to urinate)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Hypoovarianism (reduced secretion of ovarian hormones)
- Labor pain
- Lactation deficiency
- Male sexual dysfunction
- Facial spasm and TMJ dysfunction
- Herpes zoster (shingles) and Post-herpetic neuralgia (nerve pain)
- Vertigo, Tinnitus, and Ear congestion
- Alcohol dependence and Detoxification
- Tobacco dependence
- Illicit drug dependence (opium, cocaine, heroin, etc.)
For a complete list of conditions listed in the review, please visit http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/pdf/s4926e/s4926e.pdf
How frequently would I need to see my acupuncturist?
The answer to this question will vary from patient to patient. Initially, I ask that the first 4-6 treatments be weekly. Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions about the frequency of treatment.
What can I expect from treatment?
Many patients report a deep sense of relaxation after treatment as the body’s energy system is rebalanced. In addition, patients may experience a greater sense of overall well being. Relief from symptoms may occur immediately or be noticed days or weeks later in treatment. The timing of symptom relief depends on their severity.
Is Acupuncture covered by insurance?
There is a growing acceptance of acupuncture by insurance companies. Ixchel Wellness currently accepts insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield, CareFrist, Aetna, and Cigna. We are not accepting Medicaid or Medicare at this time, because neither plan covers acupuncture. Coverage under each insurance plan is different. Some plans, for instance, will only cover treatment of certain conditions. There also may be deductibles or copays for your treatment.
Ixchel Wellness offers free insurance verification prior to your intake appointment. Please contact us for more information.