By now you probably know the basics of Acupuncture, that it involves the insertion of hair-thin, sterile, disposable needles into specific points on the body to bring about internal change. But if you're like most people, you still have questions, probably even some misconceptions. Here are answers to some of the most common questions I hear about Acupuncture.
DOES IT WORK?
This is the first thing most people ask me and I am happy to answer with a resounding, "Yes!"
First of all, there is an incredible body of anecdotal evidence supporting this. Acupuncture is old, really old. In fact, many scholars believe that, at 5000 years old, Chinese Medicine is the oldest continually practiced system of medicine in the world! It was used by emperors and empresses to help them live into their 90's and stay fertile into their 80's at a time when the average life expectancy in the west was only 30 years. Not only has Acupuncture withstood the test of time, it continues to be the primary form of medicine for nearly a quarter of the world's population.
But you don't have to look to history for evidence that Acupuncture works. There is a large and continually growing body of scientific research supporting this. Both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have extensively studied the efficacy of Acupuncture with controlled clinical trials. Both have concluded that Acupuncture is effective in treating a very wide range of issues including post-operative pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea, asthma, menstrual cramps, addiction, morning sickness, depression, allergies, ulcers and much more!
Most people know someone who has benefitted from Acupuncture. But did you know that the US Military is employing Acupuncturists to treat the nearly 47,000 troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan for both PTSD and pain? Here's a link to more on that.
Acupuncture is also practiced at the top US medical university hospitals including Harvard, Duke, Cornell and UCLA. Here's what Cornell Ob/Gyns had to say about Acupuncture and Fertility.
Acupuncture is being embraced by so many because the evidence shows, it works!
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The ancient Chinese referred to a substance in and around us called qi (pronounced "chee"), many people translate this as "energy". Qi is what connects all of our individual parts into one unified whole and energizes every cell in our bodies. The ancient Chinese understood that we extracted something essential to life (qi) from the air we breathe and from the food we eat and that qi circulates in the body via the blood. In modern terms, the concept of qi correlates more closely with oxygen and glucose than a mysterious invisible energy. The ancients also discovered specific points on the body where qi could be accessed and affected by a needle. Through modern science we now know that acupuncture points are places on the body with high concentrations of both nerves and blood vessels.
Research has documented many direct measurable effects of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine on the body.
Acupuncture promotes blood flow. Everything the body needs to heal is carried in the blood including oxygen, nutrients, immune substances, hormones, analgesics (painkillers) and anti-inflammatories.
Acupuncture stimulates the body’s built-in healing mechanisms. Acupuncture creates tiny “micro traumas” that stimulate the body’s spontaneous healing response. In order to heal the micro trauma induced by acupuncture the nervous, immune and endocrine systems all spring into action. As the body heals the micro traumas it also heals the surrounding tissue.
- Acupuncture releases natural painkillers. Inserting a needle sends a signal through the nervous system to the brain, where chemicals such as endorphins, norepinephrine and enkephalin are released. Some of these substances are 10-200 times more potent than morphine!
- Acupuncture reduces stress. This is probably the most important systemic effect of acupuncture. Research suggests that acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system has been called the “rest-and-digest” or “calm-and-connect” system, and in many ways is the opposite of the sympathetic system responsible for the "fight or flight" response. For this reason acupuncture is especially effective in treating any disease where stress is a major underlying factor. Now, I challenge you to name one modern disease in which stress is not an underlying factor.
Does it hurt?
Nearly everyone is apprehensive about needles when it comes to getting a shot or having blood drawn (myself included!) I'm happy to say that acupuncture needles are vastly different than hypodermic needles. You can fit ten acupuncture needles inside the shaft of some hypodermic needles! Also acupuncture needles are inserted very shallow into the skin and never into veins as with hypodermics. With acupuncture, nothing is injected into or drawn from the body.
Different people experience the sensation of acupuncture differently. The vast majority of people feel nothing as the needle pierces the skin and then feel a subtle dull ache or spreading sensation build around the needle. Some people feel a slight prick at the moment of insertion that quickly fades. Once the needles go in the "feel good" hormones start flowing and any nervousness about needles usually fades away.
I use relatively few needles in my treatments, usually anywhere from five to fifteen per session.
how many treatments will i need?
The number of treatments needed depends on the client and the condition being treated. Typically, long standing conditions require more time to unravel than more acute short-term conditions. It is my goal to help people feel better and get results as quickly as possible. We will work together to create a treatment plan that works best for you. Generally people come in once a week for the first five weeks. After that we reassess and schedule your follow ups less frequently if possible. Once feeling better, many people choose to come in once a month or at the change of seasons for a general health maintenance "tune up".
how much does it cost?
At your first session, we will delve into many areas of your life that may be affecting your health. You will have the opportunity to voice all of your concerns about where you are now and what your goals for treatment are. I will gather a detailed and comprehensive picture of your overall health which is important to help me form a diagnosis and treatment plan. Following this detailed intake, you will experience your first acupuncture treatment. All together the first session lasts two hours and costs $150.
Follow up treatments begin with a few minutes to check in on how you've been feeling since your last treatment and to update any goals or areas you'd like to focus on and then lead straight into your acupuncture treatment. Follow ups last one hour and cost $80.
Some insurances cover acupuncture at this time. If you think yours does I'm happy to investigate it for you. I am not an in-network provider with any insurance companies.