FAQ

Starting a new method of treatment or seeing a new practitioner can bring up a lot of questions and uncertainty. Hopefully our FAQs can help put you at ease and lead you in the right direction. If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be more than happy to help.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves the application of heat, needles, pressure, or other stimulation to points on the body in order to restore harmony to the mind, body, and spirit. Disharmony is always the underlying cause to all ailments, whether it be injury, illness, or emotional. Acupuncture stimulates different regions of the body to encourage blood flow where disharmony has hindered it.  If the blood is not flowing properly around the joints, there is pain.  If the blood is not flowing properly to the skin, there is dryness.  You have probably also heard of qi (pronounced “chee”) and acupuncture works with qi in similar ways as it works with blood.

What is Qi?

One way to understand qi in the body is as the interplay of body tissues, blood, nutrients, oxygen, hormones, and neurolgical signals.  By adjusting this “interplay” between substances, the body is able to maintain health and harmony.  Qi is far more complex than how it is explained here.  For a more thorough explanation read A Brief History of Qi by Zhang Yu Huan and Ken Rose.

What should I wear to my acupuncture treatment?

On days that you are receiving acupuncture, it is advisable for you to wear loose-fitting clothing that will be comfortable to lie down in but will also allow the acupuncturist access to multiple regions of your body. A tank top and loose fitting shorts are perfect for many treatments, but at times even that would prohibit access to necessary acupuncture points. It is perfectly appropriate to bring a change of clothes if you desire. An acupuncture visit is often similar to a massage in that you will need to undress and you will be provided with a sheet or gown to cover yourself with.

It is very important that you are comfortable, regardless of gender, and you must notify your acupuncturist if you are uncomfortable in any way. We work with a very diverse population and strive to be sensitive to the modesty of our patients. We are here to help you and will do whatever is necessary in order to insure that you feel safe and relaxed; but in the end, it is still up to the patient to communicate with us about what they are experiencing.

What does it feel like; does acupuncture hurt?

It depends on who you ask and who is inserting the needles, but most people do not experience pain because the needles are so thin that they do not stimulate sensory nerves.  Occasionally people will experience a brief discomfort, similar to plucking out a hair.  Once the needle is in place and has been stimulated it is not uncommon to feel a heaviness, dull ache, warmth, or slight buzzing sensation at the site of the needle or elsewhere on the body.  Of course, some people are less sensitive than others and, especially if you are already in pain, you may not feel anything at all. Regardless of whether or not you are aware of the needles, nearly everyone experiences a deep, rejuvenative relaxation during the treatment and leave feeling peaceful and energized.

How long does it take?

The initial consultation and examination takes about 1 hour and a typical acupuncture treatment may last anywhere from 20 – 60 minutes, depending on the patient and their condition.  Facial renewal treatments take about 90 minutes.

Are there any side effects or adverse effects of acupuncture?

Acupuncture is extremely safe with minimal side effects.  People will occasionally experience pressure or tingling at the site of the needle once the needle has been removed.  This is just an indication that the point is still stimulated and the sensation will not last very long.  There is also a possibility for bruising at the site of the needle. Bruising is also relatively uncommon.  Certain precautions are taken to minimize the risk of bruising in sensitive areas, but it cannot always be avoided.

How many treatments will I need?

The standard number of treatments required to complete the facial renewal procedure is in the range of 10-15 treatments.  There is no standard number of treatments for general care but you can anticipate approximately one month of treatment for every year that you have suffered from a chronic condition to receive substantial relief from your symptoms.  The purpose of acupuncture is far greater than symptomatic relief.  Acupuncture returns your body to an optimal state of functioning so that the symptoms do not return.

What is Oriental Medicine?

Oriental Medicine consists of herbal medicine, tui na or shiatsu, exercise, diet, and lifestyle counseling, and Chinese, Japanese, and/or Korean styles of acupuncture (depending on the acupuncturist).

What is herbal medicine?

Herbal medicine is the foundation of all ingestible medication, yet far superior to typical pharmaceutical medicine because herbal medicines can be formulated for the individual.  It doesn’t make any sense to treat a man’s headache with the same medicine as is used to treat menstrual cramps or a child’s fever.  Chinese herbal remedies are specific not only to the individual, but also to the specific region of the body that is being affected.  A virus manifesting in the sinuses is treated with different herbs than a virus manifesting in the chest.  Antibiotic drugs can only kill bacteria, antibiotic herbal medicine can kill the same bacteria but also many antibiotic herbs are also antiviral which makes them the superior medicine for seasonal colds and flu.

Is herbal medicine safe?

Adverse effects are possible with any medicine, because they function by causing changes to take place in or on the body.  Herbal medicine is powerful medicine that can harm as well as heal.  When taken or prescribed carelessly, they can be dangerous.  For example, it is extremely dangerous for individuals who are taking blood thinners to take certain herbs.  As Masters of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAOM) and Diplomates of Oriental Medicine (Dipl.O.M.), we are certified by The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) after having proven competency in safe handling and administration of herbal medicine.  Diplomates of Oriental Medicine and Diplomates of Chinese Herbology (Dipl.C.H.) are as qualified to prescribe these potent medicinals as a physician is to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs.  Skilled herbalists are capable of preparing safe, powerful, and effective medicine that can be equally as effective as nearly any pharmaceutical drug.  Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, herbal remedies can be customized to address the needs of each unique individual while preventing or minimizing side effects. Herbal medicine is responsible for so few incidences that it is not even assigned its own category in the Annual Reports from the American Association of Poison Control; whereas most pharmaceutical drugs are broken down by category.  Herbal medicine is effective and safer than the alternative.

What are common adverse effects of herbal medicine?

Most herbalists will prepare the patient in the event that there is a potential for adverse effects.  Since herbal medicine is a complete substance rather than a derivative, the body will usually be able to rid the body of the substances through the stool, resulting in an upset stomach and diarrhea.  Although an upset stomach is uncommon, it is the most common adverse effect.  If this happens, you should stop taking the herbal remedy and immediately call your healthcare provider.

How many acupuncture treatments will I need and how much does it cost?

That is a difficult question to answer, because it is like asking an architect how much a job will cost before telling him what the job is.  There is no way to determine exactly how much an individual’s care will cost prior to diagnosis.   Most people will notice some improvement in their symptoms after only 1 or 2 treatments.  To truly free the body of the conditions that are causing the conditions will usually require regular treatments for weeks or months.  Oriental Medicine can address the symptoms, but what makes it a superior form of medicine is it’s ability to completely resolve the underlying conditions.

Will insurance cover acupuncture?

Insurance companies in NC have been reluctant to reimburse for acupuncture but things are constantly changing.  Many flexible account spending plans, however, will cover acupuncture. It is recommended that you contact your insurance carrier to find out if they are covering acupuncture yet.

Does acupuncture work?

Yes. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in Asia, and is currently being used by millions of people in the U.S. and over 2 billion people worldwide.

What can be treated with acupuncture and Oriental Medicine?

In short, any condition that does not require immediate surgery or emergency medicine should first be treated with the gentlest and safest medical modalities: diet, acupuncture, massage, exercise, and herbal medicine.  It is a great injustice to put potentially dangerous chemicals into the body damage before first trying therapies that are known to be safe. The World Health Organization published a report in 2002 within which they have disclosed all the different conditions which research has proven to be effectively treated with acupuncture.  They also discuss a multitude of other conditions of which acupuncture has shown effect but the research is inconclusive. [source]

Conditions or symptoms that acupuncture has been proven to be effective:

  • adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
  • allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • biliary colic
  • depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  • acute bacillary dysentery
  • primary dysmenorrhoea
  • acute epigastralgia (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
  • facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • headache
  • essential hypertension
  • primary hypotension
  • induction of labor
  • knee pain
  • leukopenia
  • low back pain
  • correction of malposition of fetus
  • morning sickness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • neck pain
  • pain in dentistry – including dental pain and temporomandibular (TMJ) dysfunction
  • periarthritis of shoulder
  • postoperative pain
  • renal colic
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • sciatica
  • sprain
  • stroke (cerebral vascular accident, CVA)
  • tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)

Conditions or symptoms that appear to be effectively treated with acupuncture but which need further research before the W.H.O. will endorse acupuncture as unquestionably effective treatment:

  • abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to  gastrointestinal spasm)
  • acne vulgaris
  • alcohol dependence and detoxification
  • bell’s palsy
  • asthma
  • cancer pain
  • cardiac neurosis
  • chronic cholecystitis with acute exacerbation
  • cholelithiasis
  • competition stress syndrome
  • closed craniocerebral injury
  • non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
  • earache
  • epidemic hemorrhagic fever
  • simple epistaxis (without generalized or local disease)
  • eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
  • female infertility
  • facial spasm
  • female urethral syndrome
  • fibromyalgia and fasciitis
  • gastrokinetic disturbance
  • gout
  • hepatitis b virus carrier status
  • herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
  • hyperlipemia
  • hypo-ovarianism
  • insomnia
  • labour pain
  • insufficient lactation
  • non-organic male sexual dysfunction
  • ménière disease
  • post-herpetic neuralgia
  • neurodermatitis
  • obesity
  • opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
  • osteoarthritis
  • pain due to endoscopic examination
  • pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
  • polycystic ovary syndrome (stein-leventhal syndrome)
  • postextubation in children
  • postoperative convalescence
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • chronic prostatitispruritus
  • radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
  • primary raynaud syndrome
  • recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
  • reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • traumatic retention of urine
  • schizophrenia
  • drug-induced sialism
  • sjögren syndrome
  • sore throat (including tonsillitis)
  • acute spine pain
  • stiff neck
  • temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • tietze syndrome
  • tobacco dependence
  • tourette syndrome
  • chronic ulcerative colitis
  • urolithiasis (kidney stones or bladder stones)
  • vascular dementia
  • whooping cough (pertussis)
  • Chloasma (melasma)
  • central serous choroidopathy
  • color blindness
  • deafness
  • hypophrenia
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • neuropathic bladder in spinal cord injury
  • chronic pulmonary heart disease
  • small airway obstruction
  • breathlessness in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • coma
  • convulsions in infants
  • coronary heart disease (angina pectoris)
  • diarrhoea in infants and young children
  • late stage viral encephalitis in children
  • progressive bulbar and pseudobulbar paralysis

Can children be treated with acupuncture or Oriental Medicine?

Children respond remarkably well to acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and there is a reason for this: children’s bodies are constantly changing and growing which means they are much more responsive to demands for change.  If a child is not well and is treated with acupuncture or herbal medicine, the body is already in a changing state and is therefore more able to make the changes needed to become healthy again.  Once children are old enough to walk, many will not agree to being needled, but since they respond so readily to treatment, there are often alternatives.  In lieu of needles, some conditions respond very well to tuning forks, acupressure, topical essential oils, or even just gentle massage; however, whereas a child may only need to be needled once in a day, they may need these gentler treatments every couple of hours throughout the day.  We are not able to offer 24 hour service at our office, so we teach parents how to administer these gentler treatments at home.

Can children take herbal medicine?

Herbal medicine can be administered to children by spoon or oral syringe just like any other liquid medicine.  Many children will enjoy certain herbal remedies and will gladly drink them as tea.  A growing number of parents are choosing herbal medine first, and only using to pharmaceuticals as a last resort.

What are the requirements for someone to practice acupuncture?

The legal requirements vary from state to state, but in North Carolina anyone practicing acupuncture must be at least one of the following:

A) An acupuncturist licensed by the NC Acupuncture Licensing Board

B) A Doctor of Chiropractic that has completed an additional 200 hours of education on acupuncture

C) A physician as defined under NC General Statue Chapter 90, Article 1

NC General Statutes Governing Acupuncture

North Carolina Board of Chiropractic Examiners states that a DC cannot claim to be an acupuncturist until having completed and passed the acupuncture licensing exam.

What are the requirements to become a Licensed Acupuncturist?

In NC an acupuncturist must have completed a 3 or 4 year post-graduate education which is largely devoted to sciences, such as anatomy, pathology, psychology, pharmacology and public health, as well as other clinical disciplines in addition to the study of Chinese philosophy and medicine.  To be designated as a Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAOM), one must have completed a 1,755 hours of didactic education and 870 hours of clinical internship.