Acupuncture FAQs

Treatment room, moxa and needle

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture originated in China more than 3000 years ago. It is one of the oldest healing systems in the world and has developed through thousands of years of continuous practical experience. It is based on the principle that health and well-being are maintained by a balanced flow of energy. Traditionally, acupuncture is intended to be a preventative medicine, correcting small imbalances in the body, mind, and spirit before they lead to more serious diseases.

Rather than focusing attention only on the presenting symptoms or the part of the body that is diseased, acupuncturists look at the person as a whole in which every part of the body, mind, and spirit affects every other part. By treating the underlying cause of imbalance and by healing the person on all levels, acupuncture is able to help alleviate symptoms and prevent the re-occurrence of disease.


What is Qi?

At the core of acupuncture is the belief that Qi (pronounced chee) flows throughout the body in pathways called meridians. Qi can be translated as energy, life-force, and vital-power. The Chinese character for Qi illustrates that it is something both material and immaterial at the same time. It is the essence of life. It is all things and everything in between. It is what gives movement, change, and force in nature and in us. Every phenomenon in our world – the air, atmosphere, minerals, water, plants, trees, animals, and people – is an expression of a kind of Qi manifesting in different forms.


How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture directly affects Qi (energy) at specific points located on meridians (energy pathways) in the body. Meridians are like rivers flowing inside the body. Just as rivers transport life-giving water that nourishes the earth and all beings, meridians bring life-giving Qi to nourish every cell in the body. Similar to what a dam does to water, the natural flow of Qi can become disrupted. This can be due to many factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise or excessive activity, seasonal changes, and physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual trauma. When the disruption is prolonged or the body is in a weakened state, disease is likely to occur because parts of the body are cut off from life-giving Qi. Through diagnosis techniques, acupuncturists assess the condition of a person’s Qi. Through treatment, we attempt to restore the amount, quality, balance, and natural flow of Qi in the meridians. We clear the body, mind, and spirit of Qi that is of bad quality and makes a person susceptible to disease. We bring Qi to where it is needed and disperse Qi from blocked or congested areas. In doing so, we optimize a person’s energy and provide an opportunity for the body to heal itself from disease, and maintain overall health and well-being.


Who can benefit from acupuncture treatment?

The simple answer is that everyone can benefit. You can benefit from acupuncture treatment without necessarily having a named illness. Instead, you may have a general awareness that you don’t feel well, or could somehow feel better. Acupuncture can be helpful where other treatments have been unsuccessful. It is also a safe treatment to use in conjunction with other forms of treatment. Acupuncture has been effective in treating a variety of conditions, including but not limited to:

Disorders of the body
Disorders of the mind
Disorders of the spirit
  • Many forms of chronic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Headaches & migraines
  • Digestive disorders
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Chronic Fatigue & Fibromyalgia
  • Allergies
  • Immune deficiency disorders
  • Chemotherapy and radiation side effects
  • Recovery from surgery
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Addictions
  • Stress-related conditions
  • Lack of clarity, focus, and concentration
  • Lack of vision
  • Hopelessness
  • Joylessness
  • Irritability
  • Insecurity
  • Instability
  • Obsession
  • Emptiness
  • Disconnection
  • Stagnation
  • Lack of self-worth, self-esteem
  • Persistent sense of overwhelm
  • Lack of will
Benefits of treatment can include:
    • Improved sense of well-being and overall state of health
    • Increased energy and vitality
    • Decreased stress
    • Better sleep
    • More positive and grounded outlook
    • Enhanced immunity (sick less often, recover more easily)
    • Clarity of mind
    • Heart openness
    • An ease of being
    • Improvement in relationships with yourself and others
    • Better manager of your health


What happens during the initial intake session?

The initial session takes about 2 hours. It consists of a thorough review of your:

  • main complaint or reason for seeking acupuncture treatment
  • health and medical history
  • personal life history
  • body systems
  • lifestyle

It will also consist of a physical exam. Your current concerns, health history, lifestyle, and environment are all taken into consideration in order to develop a unique and comprehensive treatment plan. Should time allow, you will receive your first treatment during the initial session.


What happens during a treatment session?

Acupuncture treatments generally last 1.5 hours. At the beginning of a session, you will have time to talk about how you currently feel, what you have noticed since the previous treatment, and any significant changes or occurrences pertinent to treatment. Typically, an herb called Artemesia Vulgaris Latiflora or Chinese Mugwart (commonly known as “moxa”) is used to heat an acupuncture point prior to needling. Moxa is known for its warming, revitalizing, and invigorating properties. Needles are then gently inserted into acupuncture points to produce the desired effects. I read Chinese pulses throughout the session to assess the quality of your Qi and to help determine the effectiveness of treatment. You are not left alone in the room with needles in your body. Typically, needles are inserted until the desired effect is felt and then removed. Classical Five-Element Acupuncture uses very few needles (8 – 10) during a treatment session in order to interfere as little as possible with the natural movement of energy.


How often do I need treatment and for how long?

This varies from person to person depending on the severity and duration of the disease, as well as lifestyle factors contributing to the disease. Typically, treatments are weekly for the first 6 to 8 weeks in order to create an energy balance that is maintained between treatments. As the client improves and the energy balance lasts for longer periods of time, the visits are spaced further apart (e.g. once every other week, once a month, once every 2 to 3 months, and so on). For health maintenance and prevention, I advise you to come in 4 to 5 times a year.


Are the needles sterile?

Yes, I use the highest quality, pre-sterilized, stainless steel, disposable needles. The needles come in sealed, pre-sterilized packets. Each needle is used once and discarded.


Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture needles are as thin as a human hair – much smaller than needles used for injections. When a needle is placed on the skin, a very slight prick may be felt or you may feel nothing at all. When a needle contacts the Qi in the meridian, you may feel various sensations (e.g. movement, pressure, sharpness, aching, rushing, flowing, tingling, tickling, vibrating, or even an electrical sensation). The sensations are only momentary and vary from person to person, day to day, point to point, meridian to meridian.