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Frequently Asked Questions
Is acupuncture good for ...?
Acupuncture is a part of the complete medical system that comprises Chinese medicine. In China, traditional medicine is practiced in both rural areas and in major metropolitan hospitals along with allopathic (conventional) medicine. When practical, patients are given a choice of traditional or allopathic medicine, or a combination of the two. Doctors in China will treat most conditions in most patients with traditional medicine.
Chinese medicine has its own set of signs and diagnostic criteria that practitioners use to make pattern discriminations (bian zheng in Chinese) and determine effective treatments. Any individual may present with one or more patterns that need to be addressed to restore that individual's overall function and balance. Practitioners of Chinese Medicine don't treat diseases, per se, identified by allopathic medicine - they work with the individual and their presenting patterns and symptoms.
Acupuncture does excel at relieving symptoms caused blocked, excess or deficient "qi" in the body. As a result, acupuncture, combined with herbal formulas and other techniques, is effective in re-aligning the body's resources to reduce or eliminate symptoms associated with a wide variety of acute and chronic conditions. For more information, see Acupuncture & the World Health Organization.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture involves inserting sterilized, single-use, disposable needles into specific points on the body. Acupuncture needles are solid, fine filaments that are designed to help us move "qi" (energy) through the body. Qi is the energy that the body uses to function. This energy moves within pathways in the body called channels or meridians. When qi becomes blocked in a particular channel or area, pain and dysfunction result. Sometimes these blockages create a lack of energy in some other part of the body or reduce the body's ability to function efficiently. Acupuncture helps re-balance the body's qi to achieve optimal, pain-free function.
Ongoing research is being conducted to attempt to show how acupuncture works within a conventional physiologic model. To date, this research is incomplete, but theorizes that the effects may occur through the autonomic nervous system.
What is qi?
Qi (pronounced "chee") is a Chinese concept that translates as life force and energy. It is present in living and non-living things. In the human body, we refer to different types of qi according to where the energy is functioning. We have "Spleen Qi" that helps us, among other functions, to digest, transform and assimilate food that we eat. "Wei Qi' circulates at the exterior of the body to help protect us from external factors that may make us sick. In the body, qi helps move, warm and transform food and air into usable energy for all of our physiologic functions
The Chinese character is the image of steam rising from a pot of rice that is cooking.
Does acupuncture hurt?
You should expect a small amount of sensation as the needle is inserted into the skin. The needles are stimulated until you feel the arrival of qi (energy) at the point. Typically, you want to feel some additional sensation: mild aching, warmth, fluttering, flowing movement. These sensations let us know that qi is working to rebalance itself within the body. You are always in charge of your treatment My philosophy is that more is not always better. Speak up immediately if you experience excessive pain, unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations. We will work within your comfort zone.