Frequently Asked Questions
- How old is Chinese Medicine?
- How does it work?
- What are the needles like?
- Does it hurt?
- What is Moxa?
- What is Cupping?
- Do you use Chinese herbs?
- How do herbs differ from Western medicine?
- Can I take Chinese herbs while on medication?
- How quickly can I expect to feel better?
- How often should I be treated?
- Does Insurance cover Acupuncture?
How old is Chinese medicine?
Chinese medicine is the oldest medical system in the world that is still practiced today. It has been used as a healing modality for more than 3,000 years.
How does it work?
Chinese medicine uses acupuncture and herbs to help bring the body back into balance. See About Acupuncture for more information.
What are the needles like?
Acupuncture needles are small and hair-thin. They are solid, not hollow like needles used by doctors. The end of an acupuncture needle is smooth and rounded. Acupuncture needles are not designed to cut the skin. Instead, when an acupuncture needle is inserted, the round edge pushes the tissue aside without cutting it.
Only sterile, disposable needles are used, so there is no risk of infection. Acupuncturists use a needle once, then dispose of it.
In 1996, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed the experimental status tag on acupuncture needles. The FDA reclassified acupuncture needles, regulating them as it does medical devices such as surgical scalpels and hypodermic syringes. Acupuncture needles must now be manufactured according to single-use standards of sterility.
Does it hurt?
Acupuncture needles are not much thicker than a strand of hair, and their insertion is normally painless. Needles can be quickly adjusted if the patient does feel discomfort. If any sensation is experienced during insertion, it is often compared to a mosquito bite and disappears very quickly. Once the needles are inserted, they may be manipulated to obtain a mild "Qi" sensation. This is how an acupuncturist engages the energy in your body in order to help balance it. Often people describe the sensations as warming, heavy, numb or tingling. Most people are surprised at how painless and relaxing acupuncture is - many people actually fall asleep during treatment!
What is Moxa?
Moxabustion, or moxa for short, is an ancient form of heat therapy that is believed to predate acupuncture. Moxa uses the ground-up leaves of the mugwort plant. In the most common form of moxa, the leaves are rolled into cigar-like sticks, which are then burned and held over the body to stimulate certain acupuncture points. The heat never gets close enough to burn the skin, and most patients find the warmth very relaxing. Sometimes patients are taught how to do moxa on themselves at home as part of their treatment.
Chinese studies show that moxa therapy increases digestive function, increases white blood count and platelets when burned over certain acupuncture points, and may have a positive effect on T-cells. In addition, moxa therapy is frequently used to turn breech babies, with a 75% success rate.
What is Cupping?
Cupping is an ancient technique used both in China and the West. The traditional process uses glass jars, heated to create a vacuum, and placed on the body to relieve acute conditions such as colds and respiratory illnesses. Cupping is also used to relieve tension and pain. It is often used for upper or lower back ache, neck pain, and shoulder pain.
Do you use Chinese herbs?
Yes. Herbal medicine is a major component of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been used for over 3,000 years in China and worldwide. Chinese herbs have shown their effectiveness under the scrutiny of both empirical study and modern clinical trials, and are often recommended to supplement acupuncture treatments.
For some conditions, herbs can be provided in tablet form. For more complex conditions, herbs are customized into granules, which are dissolved into water and drunk, or loose formulas, which are brewed into teas. The benefit to a customized formula is that it is tailored specifically to you and your unique condition.
Whichever form your herbs are in, only the highest quality herbs that have undergone strict testing and quality control will be used.
How do herbs differ from Western medicine?
Chinese herbal formulas tend to be much gentler than western medicines. They work not only to help relieve symptoms but also to help return the body to balance and equilibrium. Unlike Western medications, herbal formulas can be customized for the individual and are often modified as treatment continues to meet the changing needs of the body.
Can I take Chinese herbs while on medication?
It is usually safe to take Chinese herbs with Western medications. However, it depends on the medications you are taking - some herbs have interactions with certain medications. This is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. It is important to bring a complete list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you are taking to your initial acupuncture appointment.
How quickly can I expect to feel better?
Acupuncture is a natural medicine that is assisting your body to make changes. This can be a gradual process. Some patients may experience dramatic results with just one or two treatments, but most see results build over several treatments. Some relief should be apparent in three to four treatments for acute conditions, or eight to ten treatments for more chronic conditions. In general, most people experience better energy and a feeling of well being after the first treatment.
How often should I be treated?
Treatment depends on the duration, severity and nature of the condition being treated - a customized treatment plan will be created for you at your first appointment. An acute condition may only need two to three treatments, while chronic conditions may take many treatments to help resolve. Some degenerative conditions may require ongoing treatments over time for maintenance. Hepatitis C and fertility treatments follow certain protocols, which will be discussed with you at your first appointment.
Typically, patients are treated once a week. If the condition is acute and painful, more frequent treatments may be recommended. Eventually, patients need less frequent treatments and then come only periodically for maintenance.
Does Insurance cover Acupuncture?
More and more insurance companies are covering acupuncture. Please check with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers acupuncture and how many visits you are allowed per year. Acupuncture is also covered by most FSA and HSA accounts.
Payment for your treatment is due at the time of your visit. You will be provided with a Superbill for each visit (a Superbill is an invoice for your visit that uses standardized codes for all of the treatments performed). You can then submit the Superbill to your insurance provider for full or partial reimbursement of the cost of your visit, depending on your policy. Your insurance provider will reimburse you directly.