Frequently Asked Questions
Acupuncture is an essential part of Chinese Medicine. It is based on ideas and theories formulated over thousands of years. It is a safe, painless and effective way to treat a wide variety of medical problems.
Acupuncture can be described as the insertion of fine, sterile needles at specific acupuncture points on the body. Sometimes an electrical pulse is combined with the needles for increased stimulation. These needles may also be used with the application of an herbal heat source, moxibustion, or other herbs.
This promotes natural healing by enhancing recuperative power, immunity, physical and emotional health and improves overall function and well-being. Acupuncture balances and maintains our health in a natural way. It is a time-tested way to help our body heal itself.
As a system of medicine, acupuncture is over 2500 years old, and may have been practiced in China in a rudimentary form 5000, even 7000 years ago. The oldest continuously used medical textbook is the “Huang Di Nei Jing” (“Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic”). Still relevant today, this textbook remains a valuable reference on the theory, and on acupuncture techniques that practitioners still use today. The practice of acupuncture has evolved and changed in the last 2500 years - many new techniques have been developed, and continue to be developed today.
Acupuncture is extremely safe if it is performed by a qualified practitioner. FDA regulates acupuncture needles for use by license practitioners. Needles are manufactured and labeled according to certain standards. All the needles are disposable, sterile, non-toxic, single use. The needling sites are swabbed with alcohol before insertion. “Although tens of millions of acupuncture needles are used annually in the United States, only about 50 cases of complications resulting from acupuncture have been reported in the medical literature over the past 20 years.” (Birch, et. al. Clinical Research on Acupuncture. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2004)
Acupuncture usually doesn’t have side effects. As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally the original symptoms worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work. It is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately following the treatment. These pass within a short time, and never require anything more than a bit of rest to overcome.
Acupuncture is an all-natural, drug-free therapy, yielding no side effects, except feelings of relaxation and well-being.
The following list includes commonly treated conditions at the Advanced Acupuncture Center
The following list is just a sample of health issues acupuncture may effectively treat
Upper Respiratory Tract
Disorders of the Eye
Disorders of the Mouth
Mental & Emotional Disorders
Neurological and Musculo-skeletal Disorders
Acupuncture needles are hair-thin and solid and are made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle). They are different from the needles used in a hospital. In most cases, insertion by a skilled practitioner is performed without discomfort. The slight sensation upon insertion may resemble a pinch or a mosquito bite.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have been used clinically for over 3000 years. It is evidence-based medicine. According to clinical trials, acupuncture can help a variety of medical conditions. The World Health Organization cited 43 conditions where acupuncture treatment has been shown to be effective. In my past three decades of clinical practice, I have seen many positive results from acupuncture treatment in numerous different conditions, even complicated, tough cases. In addition, acupuncture is a non-invasive treatment that does not involve pharmaceutical drugs. So, it is not only safe, but a patient can try it without worrying about interactions with other treatments they are receiving.
During treatment, extremely fine, hair-thin, flexible needles are placed at specific points on the skin. Once the needles are placed, you may experience a sensation of tingling, vague numbness, heaviness or a dull ache in the area while the practitioner is stimulating the point. Sometimes people experience a sensation of energy spreading and moving around the needle or radiating from the needle. These are positive signs that the treatment is working.
Usually the patient will be lying on a comfortable, padded table or in an easy chair. Often patients will become very relaxed and fall into a light sleep during the session.
To prepare for your appointment, come with any questions you may have; We're here to help you. Wear loose, comfortable clothing for easy access to acupuncture points. Don't eat an unusually large meals just before or after the visit. Don’t over-exercise, engage in sexual activity, or consume alcoholic beverages within 6 hours before and after the treatment. Continue to take any prescription medicines as directed by your regular doctor. Substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) especially in the week prior to treatment, will seriously interfere with the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments. Avoid stressful situations. Make time to relax and be sure to get plenty of rest. Between visits, take notes of any changes that may have occurred.
During your initial visit, I will take a full medical history, and ask questions about your symptoms, health and life-style etc. I may also check your tongue and pulse, perform a physical exam and review your lab tests and imaging exams. You may receive an Acupuncture treatment after the initial exam. Treatments can last from 30 to 90 minutes. I may give recommendations to you about Chinese herbal medicine, diet, exercise and other Oriental medicine modalities. I will discuss with you the course and frequency of treatment, cautions and encourage you to actively participate in your healing process. As in any form of healing, your attitude, diet, determination and life-style will affect the outcome of the treatment.
During a return visit, I will check with you about any changes from the previous visit, adjust the treatment according to your response to the treatment.
During a treatment, extremely fine, hair-thin, flexible needles are placed at specific points. Once the needles are placed, you may experience a sensation of tingling, vague numbness, heaviness or a dull ache in the area while the practitioner is stimulating the point. Sometimes people experience a sensation of energy spreading and moving around the needle or along the course of the meridian. These are all positive signs that the treatment is working.
After your appointment, It is recommended to drink plenty of water and take it easy. About 10 to 15 % of time, some patients may experience some mild residual pain in the needling area, slight bruise on the skin, mild headache, lightheaded, sleepy, or pain that worsens a little bit during the first day or two right after treatment. These symptoms are usually not concerning or require medical help. If the pain is severe, then a heating pad or ice is recommended.
An office visit will typically last from 30 minutes to 1 hour and, longer than 1 hour for some cases. The needles, once inserted, will usually be left in place from 15 to 45 minutes. The length of a visit can vary due to desired results and the type of acupuncture technique best suited for each individual treatment.
The number of treatments varies from person to person. Although some people respond well to only one treatment, more are often necessary. The frequency and number of treatments needed is related to the patient's condition. Generally, longer and more severe conditions may require more frequent treatments, or a longer course of treatment, but each individual case is unique. Acupuncture can be scheduled as often as five times a week or as little as once a month. Although some patients respond favorably after only one or two treatments, others may need more treatments before they notice an improvement. As symptoms improve, fewer visits are required. A client should discuss his or her treatment program with the Practitioner, as each individual case is unique.
Acupuncture points reside on meridians, or channels, which are energetic pathways that run throughout the entire body. These meridians are linked to each other as well as to different organs. Using his knowledge of the interrelationship between the meridians and organs, an Acupuncturist will choose points to effect changes in them that will influence the symptoms you report. According to the Acupuncturist’s assessment and treatment plan, he chooses individual points or combinations of points to stimulate this change. An Acupuncturist uses Traditional Oriental Medical theory of how the body functions, the Acupuncturist’s clinical experience, conventional medicine knowledge and modern research to develop the best treatment plan for you.
Physiological changes occurring after acupuncture are not the result of the placebo effect. Many of the effects occur without the conscious knowledge of the patient, but these changes can be, and have been measured by scientific investigation such as functional MRIs, biomarkers etc. Acupuncture is not a placebo. It is an evidence-based medicine. Read Acupuncture Evidence
No. Acupuncture is used successfully on cats, dogs, horses, and other animals. These animal patients do not understand or believe in the process that helps them get better. A positive attitude toward wellness may reinforce the effects of the treatment received, just as a negative attitude may hinder the effects of acupuncture or any other treatment. A neutral attitude will not block the treatment results.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine explanation of how acupuncture works is that channels, or meridians, of energy run in regular patterns throughout the body and over its surface. These energy channels flow through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues and organs. An obstruction in the movement of the energy is like a dam that can cause obstruction in the flow of blood, bodily fluids and metabolic waste, thereby creating imbalances in the body.
Needling the acupuncture points can influence the meridian by unblocking the obstructions and re-establishing a healthy flow through the meridians. Since the meridians link with the organs, a treatment can therefore, also help to improve the function of the internal organs. The improved energy flow and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Western science has also suggested several theories for how Acupuncture works, including
Autonomic nervous system theory
Acupuncture stimulates the release of norepinephrine, acetylcholine and several types of opioids, affecting changes in their turnover rate, normalizing the autonomic nervous system, and reducing pain.
Acupuncture manipulates the electrical system of the body by creating or enhancing closed-circuit transport in tissues. This facilitates healing by allowing the transfer of material and electrical energy between normal and injured tissues.
Blood chemistry theory
Acupuncture affects the blood concentrations of triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids, suggesting that acupuncture can both raise and diminish peripheral blood components, thereby regulating the body toward homeostasis.
Gate control theory
Acupuncture activates non-nociceptive receptors that inhibit the transmission of nociceptive signals in the dorsal horn, “gating out” painful stimuli.
Acupuncture affects higher brain areas, stimulating the secretion of beta-endorphins and enkephalins in the brain and spinal cord. The release of these specific neurotransmitters influences the immune system and the antinociceptive system.
Acupuncture can reduce inflammation to help alleviate pain, stimulate Secretion, and promote release of neural hormones like endorphin, in the brain and spinal cord that can ease pain.
One study (published in the Journal of Pain in 2018) found that the effects of acupuncture treatment for pain persists over time. Approximately 85% of the benefits of acupuncture treatment still remained one year after treatment.
There are some misconceptions about acupuncture.
Acupuncture is painful:
Many people are scared of having acupuncture because of the use of needles. In reality, acupuncture needles are hair-thin and much finer than needles used for shots and blood draws. In most cases, patients may not feel the insertion of a needle, or it may feel like a small pinch or a mosquito bite.
Acupuncture is only good for pain management:
Acupuncture works very well for pain management. But pain is only one of many issues Acupuncture can relieve. Acupuncture has been used to treat a variety of medical conditions such as allergies, infertility, anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, constipation, IBS, side-effects of cancer treatment, and many others.
More and more insurance companies are recognizing the value of providing coverage for acupuncture services. But insurance coverage varies from state to state and among carriers. Contact your insurance provider to learn what kind of care is covered. If you call your insurance provider, please write down the date and time of you call and whom you are speaking to. If your insurance covers acupuncture, please ask: what kind of condition is covered? Is there any deducible, Co-pay, Co-insurance? How many visits are allowed per year? If your insurance doesn’t cover acupuncture services, you can help by insisting that your insurance company offer you reimbursement for medically indicated acupuncture treatments before you accept their policy.
Chinese herbal medicine is one of the main components of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It consists of the use of different types of natural herbs based on the TCM theories. Chinese herbs are made from raw roots, barks, flowers, seeds, leaves and branches, etc. Chinese herbs are always taken as a complete and harmonious formula. The Chinese herbs are put together in well balanced formulas to keep the body well, heal, and prevent side effects. Herbs can be prescribed and taken on their own without having to have acupuncture treatments. But they are often used with acupuncture treatment to support your healing.
To date, well-designed clinical studies evaluating herbal supplement-drug interactions are limited and sometimes inconclusive. Herbs can be used with prescription drugs in most cases. But it depends on what herbs and medications a patient wants to take together. Some herbs may carry the same dangers as other pharmacologically active compounds. Interactions may occur between prescription drugs and herbs. The highest risk of clinically-significant interactions occurs between herbs and drugs that have sympathomimetic, anticoagulant, antiplatelet, diuretic and antidiabetic effects. It is important for you to bring the list of medications and supplements you have taken to your practitioner. Your practitioner can recognize the potential interactions and take proper actions to prevent their occurrence. The following books may help to learn more about the herb and drug interactions:
- Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology by John K. Chen and Tina T. Chen;
- Herb Toxicities & Drug Interactions by Fred Kennes with Bob Flaws;
- Integrated Pharmacology by Dr. Greg Sperber with Bob Flaws;
- Handbook of Drug-Herb and Drug-Supplement Interactions by Richard Harkness, Pharm, CDM, FASCP and Steven Bratman, MD.
My approach or style of patient care is very patient-centered. I listen to my patients and provide care with dignity and compassion. I try to respect your individual preferences, needs and values. I make sure you are informed and involved in your care. This is especially important because acupuncture and oriental medicine are different from conventional medicine, so the process may be unfamiliar to many patients.
During your initial visit, I will take a full history and ask questions about your symptoms, health and life-style etc. I may also give you a physical exam and review any pertinent medical history, including lab tests and imaging. You may receive an Acupuncture treatment after your initial exam. I may give you recommendations about Chinese herbal medicine, diet, exercise and other Oriental medicine modalities. We will sit down and discuss the course and frequency of treatment and what to expect, and I encourage you to actively participate in the healing process. As in any form of healing, attitude, diet, and life-style can affect the outcome of treatment.
Most of my patients come from central Ohio, though some come from out of state. I treat patients of all ages, but have more patients that are over 40 than under, and more female patients than male patients.
Some of the most common issues my patients seek treatment for include headache, migraine, neck pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, infertility, cancer support treatment, etc.
There are many websites where additional information can be obtained. The following is a partial list:
This is a resource for general information on acupuncture.
This is a resource for a vast number of testimonials for numerous conditions treated.
“Acupuncture Today” is a monthly magazine for Acupuncturists and people interested in acupuncture.
This is the web page on acupuncture published by National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
- 6. www.ccaom.org
Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR).
This is the website for the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
This is the website for the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the national body that certifies Acupuncturists, Herbologists, and Asian Bodywork Therapy Practitioners, Oriental medicine practitioner who have met the minimum qualifications to practice in the United States.
This is the website for The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), the organization that certifies Schools of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
The following books are commonly recommended reading:
- The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted Kaptchuk, OMD
- Between Heaven and Earth by Harriett Beinfeld, and Effram Korngold.
Battle Field Acupuncture
Dry needling is acupuncture
Typically, a professional Acupuncturist whose primary training is in Acupuncture and/or Oriental Medicine, has obtained a 3 to 4-year training from a school approved by the ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine). He or she has also been awarded the Dipl.Ac. (Diplomate in Acupuncture), or with Dipl.C.H. (Diplomate in Chinese Herbology) or Dipl.OM. (Diploma in Oriental Medicine) designation upon successful examinations by the NCCAOM (National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine), which is the national certification standard used for licensing in most states including Ohio. This training is used to treat a broad range of health issues, including chronic disease and pain, according to the tenets of Oriental medical theory.
Medical acupuncturist refers to conventional healthcare professional (M.D., D.O.) who practice acupuncture. Typically, they receive no more than 300 hours of Acupuncture training.
Chiropractic acupuncturist refers to a chiropractor who practice acupuncture. Chiropractors in Ohio are required to receive 300 hours training in order to practice acupuncture. This training is most commonly used for treating pain and basic ailments. Some physicians and chiropractors are trained and licensed in both Western and Oriental medical acupuncture. Ask your physician about his or her credentials.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that medical doctors have 200 hours of training to know when to refer to a more fully trained Acupuncturist or Oriental Medicine practitioner.