<![CDATA[Greater Houston Acupuncture Alliance - News + Extras]]>Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:47:59 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Acupuncture: Medical Marvel or Mystical Myth ]]>Wed, 10 Feb 2016 02:21:52 GMThttp://ghacupuncture.org/1/post/2016/02/acupuncture-medical-marvel-or-mystical-myth.htmlPicture
By Jo Nell Norcini, L.Ac, MAOM
Cypress Area Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years; however, its debut into the United States did not occur until the early 1970s when President Nixon made a trip to China. He was accompanied by a journalist named James Reston, who had to undergo an emergency appendectomy while they were visiting the country. His appendix was removed using conventional methods, but his post-operative pain was managed with acupuncture.  He was so amazed at its effectiveness that he wrote an article about it in the New York Times, thus generating significant interest in our country.

Even though many Americans are interested in acupuncture, the fact that is has only been offered in the United States for approximately 45 years causes this modality to be shrouded in myths and misnomers.  I would like to dispel some of these at this time.

  1. Acupuncture is not real medicine – Acupuncture is real medicine. As mentioned before, it has been utilized by many eastern countries for thousands of years.  It originated in China and is a major part of their health care system.
  2. Acupuncture has not been scientifically proven to work – Acupuncture has been proven to work.  It is difficult to prove under the western model of a double blind study, but another scientific method is observation.  Acupuncture has been proven and documented to work for thousands of years through observation.
  3. Acupuncture only works for pain – Acupuncture works great for pain, but it is also effective for many other types of internal disorders.  The World Health Organization has recognized that acupuncture is an appropriate treatment for over 200 clinical conditions.
  4. Acupuncture only works as a placebo – Acupuncture may indeed have some sort of placebo effect; many pharmaceutical drugs have this effect as well.  The fact that acupuncture works on animals proves that its effectiveness goes far beyond the placebo effect.
  5. Acupuncture is painful – Acupuncture is not painful.  Let’s face it, nobody likes needles. The needles used in acupuncture are .25mm in diameter compared to a medical syringe which is 28.5mm in diameter.  You will feel a slight sensation, such as heaviness or achiness, but nothing like an injection.
  6. Acupuncture is dangerous and unhygienic – Acupuncture is perfectly safe if you go to a properly trained practitioner.  Also, a properly trained practitioner is required to be certified in “Clean Needle Technique.”  and only uses single-use disposable needles.
  7. All acupuncturist are created equal – Not so. A licensed acupuncturist in the state of Texas is required to have a Master’s degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.  This is a four-year, year-round program, which includes clinical observation and an internship.  This is over 3,700 hours of training. They are also required to pass a four-part board exam that is administered by the NCCAOM.  Acupuncturists are licensed by the Texas Medical Board.
  8. Acupuncture and dry needling are different- Dry needling is a type of acupuncture.  The term was coined by some professions to bypass training and licensing.  Dry needling simply means that the needle does not contain a substance.  Many chiropractors and physical therapist practice dry needling, but they are not licensed acupuncturist!
  9. Acupuncturists have to be of Asian descent – Learning to be a good acupuncturist is not in your DNA. With proper education and experience, anyone can become a good acupuncturist.
  10. Acupuncture has side effects and will conflict with conventional medical treatments – The only negative side effect of acupuncture may be slight bruising.  It integrates well with other medical modalities.
From a western perspective, I realize that there is still a lot of mystery surrounding acupuncture and how it works.  Scientist need to be able to see and measure things before they believe, and as they once thought the world was flat and that bacteria and viruses did not exist, they will one day come to terms with the medical marvel that is acupuncture.

*This article by Jo Nell Norcini, L.Ac, is featured in 'What is the “Point” of Acupuncture?' - a monthly article
with the purpose of raising awareness about the benefits of integrative medicine, specifically Traditional Chinese 
Medicine (TCM).*  


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<![CDATA[Anxiety in Chinese Medicine]]>Wed, 10 Feb 2016 02:09:25 GMThttp://ghacupuncture.org/1/post/2016/02/anxiety-in-chinese-medicine.htmlPicture
By Monica Mathews
TCM Student and Yoga Instructor

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) for Adults is characterized by the National lInstitute for Mental Health as “excessive worry about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months...Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.”

Anxiety is a modern term that does not have an exact equivalent in Chinese Medicine, but could be loosely defined as unresolved fear. Strong emotions, like fear, cause stress in the body which disrupts the flow of energy, or Qi. If you have ever had issues with feeling anxiety, you may have experienced heart palpitations (an unpleasant and sudden awareness of your heart beating- not necessarily faster), frequent sighing, insomnia, feeling of heat in the face, feeling of tightness/distention/discomfort or pain in the chest and/or abdomen.

To learn more...

As a patient with anxiety in Chinese medicine, you are evaluated holistically. Whether it is a complex combination of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events known or unknown to the patient, the therapies used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) work with the body on reestablishing harmony and balance from the inside out.

A licensed acupuncturist and herbalist/TCM practitioner will decipher the diagnosis after careful observation of the patient’s tongue, pulse, and body, plus a complete medical history intake, and then develop an individualized treatment plan. In the case of anxiety, the treatment plan will surely include acupuncture points 
to calm the Shen (Mind), perhaps in combination with other TCM therapies such as herbal medicines, cupping, tuina, and moxibustion.

If you experience anxiety...

See if you can find these acupoints at home! Among some of the acupuncture points commonly used to calm the Shen are PC6, Du24, Ht7, and YinTang, which have the physiological functions of lowering blood pressure, calming the heart rate, and subduing an overstimulated nervous system. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of anxiety, you may want to try acupressure at home in between your acupuncture sessions. It’s easy! Just gently press with your thumb or index finger to stimulate these points 2-3 times a day for about 20-30 seconds. Talk to your local acupuncturist for more ways to deal with symptoms of anxiety such as deep breathing exercises, Qi Gong, or Tai Chi.

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<![CDATA[Acupuncture and Back Pain]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2016 02:19:56 GMThttp://ghacupuncture.org/1/post/2016/02/acupuncture-and-back-pain.htmlPicture
By Jo Nell Norcini, L.Ac.
Cypress Area Acupuncture

Acupuncture and Back Pain

A simple search on the Internet for “acupuncture and back pain” will bring up over six million hits, thus making it quite evident that there is a lot of information on the web about this subject. Even in America, where acupuncture is not the first choice for medical care, people associate acupuncture with pain relief.

Back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical attention. It is one of the most frequent 
causes of missed workdays and one of the most expensive conditions in the United States.  Half of all adults will experience some form of lower back pain during their lifetime. The fact that humans walk upright puts a great deal of pressure on the spine and the muscles that support it. Over time, factors such as disease, accidents, poor posture and overexertion can lead to back problems.  The most common type of back pain is muscular in nature. Pain causes the muscles to spasm, which then causes distortion in the discs, joints and nerves of the spine. The nerves can then become inflamed and cause pain to radiate down the side or the back of the leg.  This condition is what is commonly referred to as sciatica.

In most cases, people who experience an episode of acute back pain will recover in 3-12 weeks. For those 
who don't recover, however, chronic back pain can be a significant source of suffering. Acupuncture can play an important role in the reduction or elimination of back pain by reducing recovery time and preventing a chronic condition from developing. Research has shown that acupuncture helps the body to produce natural steroids, which reduce inflammation, and endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. Both substances can play an important role in reducing pain.

By reducing acute back pain, acupuncture can also help prevent chronic back pain from developing. It can 
help avoid the need for invasive surgical procedures, steroid injections and the use of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, which can carry with them unwanted side effects and can even prolong the patient’s healing time.

If you have ever tried acupuncture for back pain and felt that it did not work for you, remember that, “not all acupuncture is created equally.” Some modalities such as physical therapy and chiropractic employ what is known as “dry needling”. Many people think that this is the same as acupuncture because the same types of needles are used.  Dry needling involves putting needles into areas of knotted muscle fibers causing the muscle to “jump” or contract due to reflex signals sent from the spinal cord. This type of treatment may provide temporary relief, but is in fact traumatic in nature and can be quite painful.

Acupuncture, provided by a licensed acupuncturist, is quite different. We are able to relieve pain by stimulating points along specific meridians; often the site of needle insertion is far away from the painful area.  Dry needling does not take into account meridian theory, which is a fundamental aspect of Chinese Medicine.  An acupuncture treatment is not only very effective at relieving back pain, it is also relaxing As with any other form of medical care, patients will respond to acupuncture at different rates.  Some people may only need one treatment while others would require 10-20 treatments.  Make sure to discuss your condition thoroughly with your acupuncturist before undergoing treatment and as always, make sure they are properly trained by visiting www.NCCAOM.org.

JoNell Norcini specializes in pain management. She has post-graduate advanced training in Dr. Tan’s Balance Method, which is extremely effective. 

*This article was feature in "What is the “Point” of Acupuncture?"- a monthly article with the purpose of raising awareness about the benefits of integrative medicine, specifically Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

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<![CDATA[Digestive Health in TCM - Unlike what you think!]]>Fri, 15 Jan 2016 02:10:51 GMThttp://ghacupuncture.org/1/post/2016/01/digestive-health-in-tcm-unlike-what-you-think.htmlPicture
By Monica Mathews
TCM Student and Yoga Instructor

It may not seem like it should be such a big deal, but over 3,000 years of Chinese medical understanding of health and illness will tell you that drinking ice water over a long period of time can have a negative effect on your digestive system. Not just ice water, in fact, but other foods and drinks that are considered “cold” in nature (not just temperature), such as raw veggies, salads, smoothies, and raw fruit/vegetable juices. Now, this doesn’t mean that you cannot 
indulge every once in a while, but most Americans think that these things are actually “healthy” choices to eat all the time, and that way of thinking is erroneous. When you consume too many 
cold-natured foods, drinks, herbs, and medications (antibiotics are also considered cold), then the chemical reactions in your digestive system slow down and it becomes very sluggish. A sluggish digestive system can manifest symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and much more if left untreated.

If you have ever been to a licensed acupuncturist, you’ll notice that the practitioner will ask to see your tongue to get a better idea of how your internal organs are functioning. A tongue that looks pale, puffy and swollen with teethmarks on the edges, too moist, or has a yellow coating could mean that your digestive system needs a boost. Acupuncture and the correct selection of herbs will certainly help get things flowing again, but you can also simply choose cooked, warm meals, hot tea, and room temperature water with a squeeze of lemon or lime whenever possible. Go ahead- be a bother and send the waiter back for water, no ice! Your tummy will thank you.

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<![CDATA[Cosmetic Acupuncture: Inner Balance, Outer Beauty]]>Fri, 15 Jan 2016 02:01:38 GMThttp://ghacupuncture.org/1/post/2016/01/cosmetic-acupuncture-inner-balance-outer-beauty.htmlPicture
By Lori Earley, L.Ac
Phoenix Rising Acupuncture

Admittedly, when most people consider acupuncture, it’s usually for pain-related issues, like back pain, neck pain, or headaches. However, more and more people are turning to acupuncture for cosmetic results. Cosmetic acupuncture has been brought to the public’s attention by Hollywood A-listers, such as Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Julianne Moore. Even Kim Kardashian (not necessarily an A-lister, but very much a public figure in pop culture) has tweeted pictures of herself while undergoing cosmetic acupuncture treatment.

So, what’s all the buzz? Acupuncture’s anti-aging techniques have been around for centuries, but as more people search for a safe, natural, cost-effective, non-invasive, and chemical-free way to look and feel younger, cosmetic acupuncture is becoming one of the hottest ways to turn back the years because it provides inner balance and outer beauty.

How It Works

Remember that plump, wrinkle-free face we all had in our teens and twenties? That’s thanks to high levels of elastic and collagen. In our thirties, those levels begin to decline. Licensed acupuncturists who have been trained and certified in cosmetic acupuncture use hair-thin needles at different points and locations on the face and neck, causing “micro-traumas” to the area, which, in turn, stimulate collagen and elastin production.

In addition to local face and neck points, most acupuncturists who perform cosmetic acupuncture treatments also use distal – or body – points to treat the underlying cause of aging. This is where the true skill comes in, since only a qualified practitioner can determine the underlying cause of physical signs of aging that is unique to each individual. So, in addition to a facial treatment, a full body treatment is also given at the same time, which increases the effectiveness of the cosmetic results.

Some of the reported results include the following:

  • A reduction or disappearance of fine lines and wrinkles, including crow’s feet
  • A “leveling” of deeper lines, looking softer and less harsh
  • Improvement in acne, rosascea, and melasma
  • Improvement in skin texture & skin tone: firmer, softer, smoother, and more vibrant
  • Fading of age spots and sun damage
  • A more defined jaw line & minimized jowls
  • Lifting of droopy eyelids
  • Beneficial for Bell’s Palsy & facial paralysis
  • Boost in energy & improved sleep
  • Lifted mood, less stress & tension
  • Improved digestion
  • Reduction in hot flashes and night sweats
  • Reduction in PMS symptoms
Course of Treatment

Typically, a course of treatment, which consists of at least 10 to 12 treatments in a 5-week period, is needed to achieve maximum benefits. With repetitive treatments over a short period of time, the collagen and elastin begin to reproduce to plump up the skin, smooth out lines, and tighten skin. Most patients report visible results by the fifth to seventh treatment.

The most dramatic results typically last between 18 months to three years, depending on the health of the individual. Cosmetic acupuncture repairs and restores the health and vitality that the skin enjoyed in prior years, but time and gravity are inevitable and the skin may eventually become damaged again. In order to help prevent damage and further signs of aging, the course of treatment can be repeated at a later time; however, it is recommended that a maintenance treatment be performed every 4 to 8 weeks.

Who is the Appropriate Candidate for Cosmetic Acupuncture?

Cosmetic acupuncture is excellent for anyone who wants to look and feel revitalized without losing the essence of who they are and what they look like. It is the perfect solution for those looking to avoid the risk, cost, and complications associated with many anti-aging procedures and surgeries, and it is the only cosmetic procedure that can provide health benefits along the way; however, it is not advised for those who have uncontrolled hypertension, a history of seizures, suffer from frequent migraines, smoke cigarettes, or women who are pregnant.

Luckily, acupuncture can significantly help with migraines and smoking cessation, so once those are under control, cosmetic acupuncture treatments can begin.

How Can I find a Qualified Practitioner?

Only a Licensed Acupuncturist is qualified to provide cosmetic acupuncture. Chiropractors, MDs, and Physical Therapists, who do not also have a 4-year degree in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine have not been trained in cosmetic acupuncture. In fact, only a few Licensed Acupuncturists have been certified in cosmetic acupuncture, as this is an advanced technique that must be learned outside of the 4-year graduate/Chinese Medical school setting.

Ask your Licensed Acupuncturist if he/she has been certified in cosmetic acupuncture, and have them provide proof of certification.   Most have this certificate hanging in their clinic, or they are able to provide you with access to proof of certification. Cosmetic acupuncture is a delicate technique, and in order to ensure your safety and the most beautiful results, it is best to go with the most trained and experienced. Don’t be afraid to ask. Your health and beauty is worth it.

*This article was originally posted in the May 2015 issue of Indigo Sun magazine.


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<![CDATA[Acupuncture & Music in the News]]>Thu, 07 Jan 2016 01:53:43 GMThttp://ghacupuncture.org/1/post/2016/01/acupuncture-music-in-the-news.html
A word from Donald Lefeber, L.Ac of the Hope Clinic

"Acupuncture has the potential to help many people only if more people are aware of its existence. 
Did you know that it was reported that less than 10% of those in the U.S. Utilize acupuncture?
Please help by sharing with those that you know!

Much love and appreciation goes to the ‪#‎onephilippines‬ newspaper for showing support for the Acupuncture profession for publishing this article in their latest edition! 
Acupuncture is a promising medical therapy and has the potential to help millions of more education and awareness is done! Thanks to Rocko Stedy Narvios for his continued support and advocacy for the acupuncture profession!!"


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<![CDATA[Happy 2016: A word from Lori Earley, President of GHAA]]>Thu, 07 Jan 2016 01:40:33 GMThttp://ghacupuncture.org/1/post/2016/01/happy-2016-a-word-from-lori-earley-president-of-ghaa.htmlPicture
By Lori Earley, L.Ac
Phoenix Rising Acupuncture

"It is my wish that 2016 be a joyful and healthy year for all.  I’d like to share with you the story of my experience with Chinese Medicine and a few lessons from its ancient wisdom to help make 2016 a healthier year for you.

Ten years ago, I lived a different life. I was, in many ways, a very different person. Although superficially, I seemed to be the epitome of good health, in reality, my lifestyle was slowly killing me. After all, before I was 30 years old, I had already been diagnosed with several medical conditions, including one autoimmune disease, and I had been prescribed at least five medications to manage a myriad of symptoms associated with my conditions. My guess is that if I had maintained this lifestyle, by the time I reached my 40s, I would require 10 or more prescription drugs.

Admittedly, my life looked different then. I was in my twenties, working hard and fast as a sales consultant in the cutthroat corporate world. I pumped myself full of caffeine, ate on the go, and after a long day’s work, I drank wine, watched tons of reality TV, and vigorously plugged away in front of a computer screen creating pointless sales reports. I stayed up too late, relishing the only alone time of the day. As a deeply introverted person, this alone time is required to recharge my battery of life.

I was also deeply unhappy. My life seemed meaningless, chasing one insignificant goal after another, and although I didn’t fully realize it at the time, I understand now that my spirit was breaking. It’s no wonder this fast-paced, high-stress, tense life was slowly killing me. But it wasn’t just me. It’s many people. In fact, in our society, it’s most people.

Now, with 40 right around the corner, I take only 1 prescription, and the dose has decreased by 75%, something my doctor admitted rarely happens. Chinese Medicine changed my life, and now as a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, I have witnessed dozens of stories like my own."

The changes were not immediate, nor were they easy, but they’ve been effective and lasting. Here are 4 lessons from Chinese Medicine that can change your health.

  • Slow Down. Chinese Medicine teaches that humans are microcosms of our environment, and so as the sun rises, so should we, and as the sun sets, so should we begin to settle for the evening.
    • Healthy Hint: So, it may not be entirely possible with life’s requirements, but anyone CAN stop and breathe. Breathe in slowly and deeply during the day.
    • Also, learn to say no. Seriously. Say “NO” when there is no time or energy to exert. The body cannot run on an empty tank. When energy is exerted on an empty tank, things begin to break down. Keep your tank full.
  • Eat Well. Just as we are microcosms of our environment, we should eat according to the season. Enjoy fruits and vegetables that are in season. When it’s cold outside, eat warm food. When it’s blazing outside, indulge in watermelon and iced tea.
    • Healthy Hint: There are certain foods to avoid at all cost: fried foods, dairy, and sugar, all of which create systemic inflammation through out the body, worsening pain, allergies, heart disease, and most all health conditions. Tempting? Yes. Worth it? Likely not.
  • Protect Yourself. According to Chinese Medicine, we have what’s called Wei Qi. It’s a field of energy that surrounds us, protecting us from “foreign pathogens”. When our Wei Qi is strong, our immune system is strong, acting as a barrier to foreign invaders, like bacteria and viruses.
    • Healthy Hint: I like to use herbs to strengthen the Wei Qi. Ginseng, Curcumin, and Astragalus are my preferences.
    • My favorite thing to do at the end of the day is to indulge in a hot Epsom Salt bath. Salt cleanses the aura, and it’s a perfect way to literally wash off the drama and stress of the day. It also relaxes tight muscles. Enjoy!
  • Follow your heart. This one is my favorite. Last year, I had the honor of training with the founder of Esoteric Acupuncture, Dr. Mikio Sankey. He taught that one must quiet the mind to “discern the whisper of the heart”. After all, our minds chatter away all the time. Loudly. How can the heart be heard with such a loud (and sometimes obnoxious) mind? Esoteric acupuncture uses sacred geometry and acupuncture to balance the chakras and to help elevate a client’s consciousness.
    • Healthy Hint: Meditation is key. Ten minutes a day is all that’s needed to create a safe and quiet space. Welcome the stillness, and begin to hear the faint voice of your soul’s intention and purpose.
    • I highly recommend receiving a series of esoteric acupuncture treatments by a practitioner who has trained under Dr. Sankey. Esoteric acupuncture is an incredibly powerful healing modality that can heal on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels.
* This article was originally published in the January 2016 edition of Indigo Sun magazine.


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<![CDATA[Tuina for Pediatric Asthma]]>Sat, 19 Dec 2015 01:55:25 GMThttp://ghacupuncture.org/1/post/2015/12/tuina-for-pediatric-asthma.htmlPicture
By Michael Ball, L.Ac
Path Acupuncture

Asthma is a fairly common pediatric issue here in the greater Houston area. I have yet to meet a parent who is thrilled about giving their infant or small child regular doses of medication to control asthma. That being said, it is absolutely vital that you always have an inhaler on hand to treat acute outbreaks of wheezing. Acupuncture can open the airways and relieve wheezing, but how quickly can you get to an acupuncturist. Western medicine is terrific at treating these acute outbreaks.

Let's take a look at the chronic or remission phase.  The majority of people affected by asthma have environmental triggers such as pollution, pollen, dust, dander, pet hair, and second hand smoke. There is little we can do to completely eliminate these triggers unless we wish to submit ourselves or our children to a life inside of a bubble. We all know that is not a viable option, so what should we do? One option many people choose is to use prescription medication to control it. This is an effective method, but with any medication there is always the risk of side effects. With medication the underlying issues are not resolved either. What this means is that they control the condition, but do not remedy it. If the body does not heal itself or become strong enough on it's own, then medication will be part of the daily routine for the foreseeable future. Chinese medicine offers you another option to control asthma in the remission stage. Through acupuncture, tuina (hands on Asian bodywork), and/or Chinese herbs your child's body can be brought back into a state of balance thus greatly decreasing the chance of acute outbreaks of wheezing and shortness of breath. It will also strengthen their overall immune system decreasing the likelihood of a cold or respiratory infection. Can Western Medicine control asthma in the remission stage? Yes, but is it the best option? That is for you to decide. 

When treating pediatric wheezing with Chinese Medicine we will typically focus on three organ systems; the Lungs, Spleen and Kidney. These organ systems are understood differently in Chinese Medicine than they are in Western Medicine. Just because we are treating these systems does not mean that there is actually anything physically wrong with your child's organs. Since most kids do not like needles, their parents are adverse to seeing needles inserted into their kids, and because it can be difficult to get small children to remain still we typically start off using tuina.  Tuina is a highly effective treatment modality when it comes to pediatric conditions. If we are not seeing the results we would like, acupuncture can be used in conjunction with the tuina.  Due to the fact children react so well to acupuncture, very fine, single use, sterile acupuncture needles are inserted and removed immediately for infants and small children. Once they get a little older the needles can be left in a little longer based on the needle response and the child's comfort level. Chinese herbs are a wonderful adjunct to the in office treatment your child will receive. The herbs will act as a continuous form of treatment (much like western pharmaceuticals) to bridge the gap between the tuina/acupuncture sessions. Chinese herbs act like an internal form of acupuncture, changing the body's chemistry to help it function in a more balanced and effective manner. 

Each child is unique and as such each instance of pediatric wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath is unique. For that reason your child will receive a custom treatment plan that best suits their needs and presentation. 


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<![CDATA[Common Questions about Acupuncture]]>Sat, 19 Dec 2015 01:43:54 GMThttp://ghacupuncture.org/1/post/2015/12/common-questions-about-acupuncture.htmlPicture
By Hung Van Doan, L.Ac
Five Oceans Acupuncture & Herb

Q:  What is Acupuncture?

A:  Acupuncture is a complete and holistic medical system with a history of more than 5000 years, and is one of the main branches of Oriental Medicine.   It involves the insertion of fine, flexible, hair-like needles onto specific points of the body to promote natural healing, strengthen immunity, eliminate pain, and restore physical and emotional health.  As one of the oldest continually practiced medical systems, acupuncture has stood the test of time with its vast knowledge of effectively treating many illnesses ranging from everyday to complex.

Q:  How does it work?

In Eastern Medicine terms:

A:  Acupuncture works by unblocking and promoting the energetic flow called Qi (pronounced “chee”) of the body through a network called “meridians,” similar to the systems of nerves and blood vessels.   The entire body’s vitality and its functions depend on this energetic network.   Pain or illnesses are formed from the blockage or lack of flow, like a dam blocking a stream watering the trees.  Each meridian is connected to a specific organ, and the pathways are mapped onto the body in specific acupuncture points.  These points are like relay stations that regulate the network.  When being needled, they activate the communication and restore the Qi flow of the meridians.

In Western Medicine terms:

A:  Western Medicine has yet to fully understand how acupuncture work, mainly due to the difference in medical structure and holistic philosophy.  With research, popular theories have come up such as Autonomic Nervous System Theory, Gate-Control Theory, and Blood Chemistry Theory.  These systems are thought to be activated when certain points are being needled, resulting in pain relief, and improvement in immunity response.   The specific points have also been shown to have lower electrical resistance than non-acupuncture points.  Modern research has been able to identify the physical structure of the meridians as micro-tubular networks called Bonghan Channels, rich in DNA fragments, stem cells, and hyaluronic acid.  They are theorized to be able to carry high volume of information versus the limited one-way signals of the nervous system.

Q:  What is Qi?
A:  Qi is the fundamental energy that makes everything exists and functions.  When it comes to health, Qi is the equivalence of biological electricity that circulates, activates, and balances the overall functioning of our bodies.  The abundance of Qi or lack thereof, as well as the quality of flow, determines our physical, and emotional well-being.  Qi flows on pathways called “the meridians.”  Through thousands of years of experiments, the meridians have been accurately mapped.  There are more than 362 acupuncture points where Qi can be accessed and activated. 

Q:  What will my acupuncturist do?
A:  Your acupuncturist will first ask you questions about your current condition(s), its history, your diet and lifestyle, and any related issues/symptoms.   Your acupuncturist will then take a look at your tongue, and take readings of your pulse to determine the diagnosis in Chinese medicine terms.  Physical examinations may be necessary to further help the diagnosis.  Once the treatment protocol is planned out for you, you will receive your first acupuncture treatment.

Q:  Does it hurt?
A:  This is a very common question!  Acupuncture is very gentle, and most often painless.  The needles are so thin that about 5 of them can fit in a hypodermic needle.  Everyone is a little different in their sensitivity, however, and you may feel the area being needled a slight sensation of achiness, warmth, tingling, or even relaxing.  This is absolutely normal. 

Q:  How many treatments do I need?
A:  The number of treatments depends on the severity and the type of condition that you have.  Recent conditions will typically need fewer treatments than chronic conditions.  The average number of treatments is 4-6.  It can be done once, or twice a week, whichever yields the best result for you.

Acupuncture works in a series of treatments.  You should not have treatments too close together, nor too far apart.  For example, you may initially come in twice a week for the first 2 weeks. Then once your symptoms improve, we'll back off to once a week, steadily increasing the level of improvement.  Once the symptoms are basically gone, it's ideal to come in once every 3 weeks or once a month for a tune-up on the results.  It's important for every patient to keep this structure to prevent off-and-on symptoms from creeping back in-between, so that results will stay more permanent. 

Q:  How safe is acupuncture?
A:  Acupuncture is very safe, and minimally invasive.   Your acupuncturist has been trained extensively for safe handling of the needle.   Make sure your acupuncturist is licensed, and has been trained in a nationally accredited school by NCCAOM, with at least 2800 hours, and has a diploma in Oriental Medicine.

Q:  I take many medications, will I still benefit from acupuncture and/or herbs?
A:  Most Western medications have significant side effects.  If you are coming in for relief of those side effects, then yes acupuncture can help.  However, you need to talk to your doctor about the medications if they are bothering you.  As for herbs, some herbs do have interactions with medications, but most don't.  It's important to bring in your list of medications to help determine the best treatment for you.

Q:  I have received acupuncture from my chiropractor and physical therapist.  Is this the same form of acupuncture, and how do I expect the difference in results?
A:  Chiropractors and physical therapists that perform acupuncture usually receive training as a short, adjunct, or over-weekend course.  Therefore, the philosophy and methodology of treatment is very different and limited: such as pain and local trigger points.  Anything beyond that is considered out of scope.  If your previous acupuncturist is NCCAOM accredited, then rest assured that your treatment will be more thorough in getting to the root of the problem. 
 
Q:  What can I expect after a treatment?
A:  After a treatment, a patient will usually feel very relaxed and calm.  If your treatment is for pain relief, you can expect a reduction in pain, or may feel a little tender to the area that has been worked on.  This is normal and it is a healing response.  For many pain cases, relief can be instant.  Depending on your severity, the length of relief can vary, from days to a week or more, which then you may have to follow-up to maximize your results.  Acupuncture effect is cumulative, so the effect of the current treatment is boosted by the previous treatment, until you are fully well.

Q:  Is acupuncture effective and safe for kid?
A:  Yes, acupuncture can be very safe and effective for kids.  The general age eligible is a minimum of 6 years old.  If younger, then acupressure (non-needle) can be used to obtain similar results.  Kids’ constitution compared to adults is very responsive to treatment due to lack of complexity, and faster energy flow.

Q:  How should I prepare for an acupuncture treatment?
A:  Because acupuncture works with your own energy, it is recommended to eat a light meal or snack before the treatment.   Make sure to not brush the tongue beforehand for a correct diagnosis.  Loose clothing like sweat pants, buttoned shirts, and t-shirts is recommended.  If needed, you may have to change into a gown for easier access.   Be sure to bring your list of medications just in case the acupuncturist can help determine the appropriate treatment protocol.

Q:  Where are the needles being placed?
A:  For most cases, needles will be placed on the extremities of lower arms and legs.  Other cases may need local areas to be needled as appropriate to the diagnosis.

Q:  What are other treatment modalities in Oriental Medicine besides acupuncture?
A:  The other modalities include:

-Herbal therapy:  Your acupuncturist may prescribe you herbal medicines either in the form of pills, tea granules, or loose herbs, to help maximize your results.  Chronic conditions will often benefit from herbal therapy.

-Diet therapy:  Diet is very important and often the core of your well-being.  A popular saying in Chinese medicines states “Most diseases start from the mouth…”  Your acupuncturist will provide nutritional guidelines to help you get the maximum and long-lasting results.

-Tui-Na:  This is therapeutic bodywork that your acupuncturist may perform to help release tension, correct musculo-skeletal imbalances, improve circulation, and complement acupuncture session to provide maximum relief.

-Gua-Sha:  This is a manual therapy of using a tool with a blunt edge and stroke along certain areas of the body to release the tension, breaks up knots, and improve immunity.  Gua-sha can be a treatment of its own or can be combined with acupuncture.

-Cupping:  This is a manual therapy of adding fire to a glass cup to create a suction effect, which then quickly be placed on the body to pull upwards layers of muscles and tissues.  This helps release the tension, improve circulation, free the fibre adhesion, and improve immunity.  


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