Frequently Asked Questions
The purpose of the initial visit is to evaluate your overall state of health through detailed history and evaluation. I will ask about your current symptoms and complaints, treatment you may have already received including any medications you may be taking, your medical history and that of your family, your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. I will feel your pulse on both wrists, as well as observe the color, texture, and coating of your tongue (don’t brush it before your visit!). Once a diagnosis is established, I will explain how acupuncture and herbal treatments can work for you, if in fact they are the best method of treatment for your condition. It’s a lot to cover, so expect your first visit to take about an hour.
The number of treatments will depend on the condition being treated and how often you can come in for treatment, as well as the types of modalities used. Chronic conditions will commonly take longer to treat and usually call for herbal treatment. Acute conditions, such as colds and recent injuries can often take fewer treatments – sometimes just one! No matter the condition, perceptible changes should be detected within five to ten treatment sessions.
In most cases, acupuncture needles don’t hurt at all. A mild prick may be felt as the needle enters the skin, followed by a sensation of relaxed heaviness surrounding the area of insertion. Different needle techniques will create different types and levels of sensations in the tissues and acupuncture channels, and these can’t always be predicted. A trained acupuncturist will be able to control these in most all instances, including the sensation felt upon insertion. All needles are sterile and disposable.
Acupuncture needles vary in size and are chosen for the part of the body in which they are placed. Slightly longer and thicker needles are often used for tissue-rich parts of the body, such as the thighs and buttocks; shorter and finer needles for parts of the body where there is less tissue, such as the hands, feet and ears.
When performed correctly, acupuncture should be free from adverse side effects. In some cases, original symptoms increase for a few days following the treatment, or new symptoms may surface – this is a normal reaction and often indicates that treatments are beginning to work. A common positive side effect is the feeling of deep relaxation.
Yes. Acupuncture and herbal treatment are commonly used throughout the stages of pregnancy to support the mother and child.
Yes. The most commonly used method of treating children with acupuncture is a group of techniques originating from Japan called Shonishin (sho – little, ni – children, shin – acupuncture). This modality focuses on gentle, specialized, mostly non-insertion techniques that children can find both comfortable and pleasurable. Techniques involve rhythmic stroking, rubbing, tapping, and pressing on the skin to give varying types of stimulation. Shonishin techniques harmonize and fortify the child’s qi, strengthen constitution and, perhaps best of all, can yield dramatic results with very light treatment. These are just some of the conditions that can be addressed with Shonishin.
It is highly unlikely that acupuncture will interact with Western medications. While there is a possibility of herb-drug interactions between Chinese medicine and Western pharmaceuticals, a trained practitioner will know how to avoid these. Despite their familiar appearance as twigs, leaves and berries, Chinese herbs are medicine, and it is important to tell your herbalist about any Western medications you are taking.
Chinese herbs are all natural substances that have not been altered by sweeteners, salts, or other such flavor enhancers. As a result, herbs can sometimes be bitter. However, a large number of commonly used herbs are also foods, such as goji berries, dried dates, cinnamon and ginger, and can improve the flavor of formulas when they are called for.