Frequently Asked Questions

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of therapy known to humankind. It originated in China nearly five thousand years ago. It is a method of treating or mitigating human ailments by piercing the skin at designated locations, called acupuncture points, at various depths and angles.

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How does Acupuncture work?

The traditional Chinese teaching is that acupuncture is based upon the principle of there being continuous generation and flow of Life-Force throughout the body. This force has two polarities which alternate rhythmically during every twenty-four hours. When the flow maintains a proper balance and change of polarities there is health, but if the balance is disturbed in any degree and Life-Force becomes weakened to such an extent "seeds" of illness appear.

The bi-polar Life-Force permeates every cell and tissue, flowing in paths (meridians) which are traceable on the skin. There are mainly twelve meridians, each being linked with its particular organ or function. On each meridian there are numerous acupuncture points at which the flow of the Life-Force and the organ itself can be influenced. At these points the insertion and manipulation of special needles influence the balance and rhythm of the Life-Force.

The Traditional Chinese teaching also developed a system for determining the quality and mobility of life energy in each person. This system which involves palpation of six pulses on each wrist is still used today in Oriental medicine diagnosis. By means of the pulse diagnosis, the practitioner knows which channels of life energy are weak or over-strong and can also monitor the effects of the treatment.


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What kind of diseases can acupuncture treat?

Any health problem, disease or illness may be treated by acupuncture. In some cases where life energy has deteriorated too far to affect a cure, the disease can still be arrested and pain alleviated so the patient can lead a reasonably normal life. Although there are techniques in oriental medicine for healing all conditions, there are some problems which can be dealt with more quickly by Western medicine. In such cases your acupuncturist will recommend you to contact a physician. Although some conditions can be alleviated very rapidly by acupuncture, many conditions have taken years to establish and can only be relieved with slow steady progress. As in any form of healing, the patient must be fully determined to get well and to change the habits or attitudes which have been undermining his or her health. Oriental medicine is an educational process in which the patient becomes more sensitive to his or her body and more aware or what to do to maintain physical and mental well-being (i.e., diet, exercise, rest, etc.)


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Does acupuncture primarily affect the nervous system to relieve pain?

Some of the most dramatic news about acupuncture in the West has publicized its ability to relieve chronic and acute pain. Clinical evidence suggests that neuro-acupuncture induces the brain to produce morphine like chemicals known as enkephalins and endorphins. Over 200 times more potent than morphine, they are thought to be the body's natural defenses against pain. Neuro-acupuncture also appears to affect the body's pain channels by stopping the transmission of pain impulses.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are more than painkilling techniques. Although the nervous system relays pain signals due to physical trauma, pain is often a signal from the body that energy is not flowing smoothly due to stress, improper diet, emotional strain, etc. When the current of life energy is balanced through acupuncture, the nerves, muscles, bones, blood vessels and organs are revitalized and the condition which created the pain sensation is relieved.

Neuro-acupuncture is drug-less, safe and natural therapy. 


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 Is Acupuncture painful?

Acupuncture needles are very fine and flexible, about the diameter of a thick hair. Insertion by a skilled practitioner usually will be completely painless. In most cases needles are inserted just below the surface of the skin. There are certain techniques used in Oriental medicine which can be painful, because it is painful to mobilize energy which has been stagnating. But acupuncture bears no resemblance to the feeling of getting an injection, as the main source of pain from injections is the hollow needle and the medication being forced into the tissue by pressure. Acupuncture needles are used to attract or disperse energy along the meridians, not to inject.


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Can Acupuncture help people stop smoking and lose weight?

There are certain acupuncture points which have been used to treat these problems, but the same point will not work for all people. Correct diagnosis by an experienced practitioner is the surest way to work with these conditions. When the life energy in the body is balanced and flowing smoothly, people often lose their desire to smoke and over-eat, as these cravings are often symptoms of the imbalances that existed before the treatment. Some patients feel progressively better after each treatment. As the life force returns, sensitivity also returns, so that a patient may temporarily feel worse. This passes in a short time. Other illnesses are of a complicated nature. It is possible for symptoms to return that were present years ago, as treatment progresses. This is because the course of the sickness is being reversed. Oriental medicine describes the process symbolically as having several conditions, one on top of the other, like sheets of paper. The top condition is taken off, exposing the one beneath. They must all be taken off one at a time and this will often recreate the symptoms temporarily while healing is taking place. When the last sheet is removed the healing is complete.


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How many treatments are necessary?

The duration of a disease, the amount of deterioration and the constitution of each patient must be taken into account when determining the number of treatments necessary. Most chronic conditions require a minimum of ten to twenty treatments to alleviate symptoms and balance the energy so that symptoms are not likely to recur. It is suggested that treatments continue after pain is completely gone. This tends to produce long lasting relief.

It is understandable that permanent relief is often obtained if the ailment is recent, the patient is not too advanced in age, and he is basically sound in health. Sometimes only a few treatments are required in such cases.

In cases where a disease has progressed quite far, it is often possible to prevent it from developing further and to give sufficient relief so that one can resume reasonable activities. Once a patient's various symptoms are removed, his health will usually remain in good condition--provided he or she returns for check-up treatments, say once every month or two.


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What to expect during the treatment

When the doctor reaches the acupuncture point, there is a feeling of "electrical" moment. This sensation is described as soreness, swelling, heaviness or numbness.

  • Diet - In some instances, patient may be given a diet to follow during the treatment period. The purpose of the diet is to help accelerate response to acupuncture by making sure that there is nothing in the patient's diet that would inhibit response to treatment.
  • Moxa - Moxa, a smoldering herb, is a heat treatment which is used as an accessory to the needles. After being rolled into a long stick and ignited, it is placed near the skin, thereby deeply heating the acupoint. There are several methods of use depending upon the effect of doctor wishes to achieve
  • Electrical Stimulation - Use an electrical stimulator, a small voltage regulator, to reduce the task of manual stimulation. The stimulator initiates a small vibration sensation between two acupoints so that the stimulator electrically vibrates the needles instead of the doctor manually twirling the needles.
  • Reactions and Side Effects - Initially, and possibly for the first two or three treatments, the patient might experience mild discomfort and now noticeable improvement. This is to be anticipated. The patient may feel tired and sleepy after the first few treatments with occasional looseness of the bowels, sweating and other sympathomimetic responses which are characteristic of this form of therapy, and is that overall, long-term benefits which can occur from acupuncture which we are striving to achieve.

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What is Cupping?

With certain ailments, another method of acupuncture treatment is called "cupping". Cupping therapy is the method of using glass or bamboo cups to create localized pressure by vacuum. The vacuum inside the cups causes the blood to circulate and help the healing in that area and open the “meridians” of the body. Meridians are the conduits in the body through which energy flows. Another healing aspect of cupping therapy is through the release of toxin in one’s body. The suction from the cups can cause the tissues to release any harmful toxins. It also triggers the lymphatic system which improves flood flow and stretches and reactivates the skin.  In this procedure, multiple glass globes are placed on the patient's skin surface at strategic points.  Suction is produced and the globes are left in place for various periods of time.  When it is removed, you might notice a mild or moderate black and blue marks remain.  This is perfectly normal and will disappear within one week, leaving no trace.


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Diseases Treated by Acupuncture

The June 1979 World Health Organization (WHO) Interregional Seminar Established a list of 40 medical conditions that lend themselves to acupuncture treatment, based on their review of clinical experiences and not on controlled clinical trials. This list includes problems of the systems or regions:

  • Upper respiratory tract (acute sinusitis, acute rhinitis, common cold, acute tonsillitis)
  • Respiratory system (acute bronchitis, asthma)
  • Eye (acute conjunctivitis, central retinitis, childhood myopia, uncomplicated cataract)
  • Mouth (toothache, post-tooth extraction, gingivitis, acute and chronic pharyngitis)
  • Gastrointestinal tract (esophageal spasms, hiccup, gastritis, acute and chronic duodenal ulcer, acute and chronic colitis, acute bacillary dysentery, constipation, diarrhea, paralytic ileus)
  • Neuromuscular system (headaches/migraines, trigeminal neuralgia, facial palsy, paresis following a stroke, peripheral neuropathy, poliomyelitis, neurogenic bladder, nocturnal enuresis, intercostal neuralgia, cervicobrachial syndrome, sciatica, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, lower back pain, osteoarthritis)


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