Frequently asked questions

What is QI and how does it travel?

At the core of this ancient medicine is the philosophy that QI (pronounced "chee"), or vital energy, flows throughout the body. Qi helps to animate the body and protect it from illness, pain and disease. A person's health is influenced by the quality, quantity and balance of QI.
Qi circulates through specific pathways called meridians. There are 14 meridian pathways throughout the body. Each is connected to specific organs and glands. Meridian pathways are like rivers. Where a river flows, it transports life-giving water that nourishes the land, plants and people. In the same way, meridian pathways transport life-giving Qi to nourish and energize every cell, organ, gland, tissue and muscle.
When Qi flows freely throughout the body, one enjoys good physical, mental and emotional well-being. An obstruction of Qi anywhere in the body is like a dam, backing up the flow in one area and restricting it in others. This blockage can hinder the distribution of the nourishment that the body requires to function optimally.

What can affect Qi?

Many things influence the quality, quantity and balance of Qi. Physical and emotional trauma, stress, lack of exercise, overexertion, seasonal changes, diet, accidents or excessive activity can lead to blockage or imbalance of Qi.
Normally, when this imbalance occurs, the body naturally bounces back, returning to a balanced state of health and well-being. When the disruption of Qi is prolonged or excessive, or if the body is in a weakened state, then illness, pain or disease can set in.

What will my acupuncturist do?

During the initial exam a full health history will be taken. Questions will be asked regarding symptoms, health and lifestyle. Your acupuncturist may also check pulses and your tongue, and may conduct a physical exam. This information is often then organized to create a complete, accurate and comprehensive diagnosis of where Qi has become blocked or imbalanced. After the interview process, you may receive an acupuncture treatment. Visits with your acupuncturist may last from 30-90 minutes.

When do they feel my pulse?

There are 12 pulse positions on each wrist that your acupuncturist will palpate. Each position corresponds to a specific meridian and organ. Your acupuncturist will be looking for 27 individual qualities that reflect your overall health. If there are any problems, they may appear in the pulse.

Why do they check my tongue?

The tongue is a map of the body. It reflects the general health of the organs and meridians. Your acupuncturist will look at the color, shape, cracks and coating on your tongue.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments will vary from person to person. Some people experience immediate relief; others may take months or even years to achieve results. Chronic conditions usually take longer to resolve than acute ones. Plan on a minimum of one month to see significant changes.
Treatment frequency depends on a variety of factors: your constitution, the severity and duration of the problem and the quality and quantity of your Qi. An acupuncturist may suggest one or two treatments per week, monthly visits for health maintenance or seasonal "tune ups."

What should I expect during treatment?

Where the acupuncture needle has been inserted, you may experience a vague numbness, heaviness, tingling or dull ache. Sometimes people experience a sensation of energy spreading and moving around the needle. This is called the "Qi sensation." All these reactions are good and a sign that the treatment is working. After treatment, you may feel energized or may experience a deep sense of relaxation and well-being.

How should I prepare?

Come with any questions you may have.
Wear lose comfortable clothing.
Do not eat large meals just before or after your visit.
Refrain from overexertion, working out, drugs or alcohol for up to 6 hours after the visit.
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, such as alleviation of pain, pain moving to other areas, or changes in the frequency of problems.

Do the needles hurt?

The sensation caused by an acupuncture needle varies. Some people feel a little pain as the needles are inserted, but most people feel no pain at all. The needles are tiny, just a little larger than a cats whisker or human hair.

How deep do they go?

The depth of the insertion varies. For example, your acupuncturist will use a needling technique that is different in fleshier areas, such as your buttocks. Typically needles are inserted at depths ranging from 1/8" to 1-1/2".

How safe is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is extremely safe. It is an all-natural, drug-free therapy, yielding no side effects except feeling relaxation and well-being. There is little danger of infection from acupuncture needles because they are sterile, used once and then discarded.

Is acupuncture safe for children?

Yes! In some instances children actually respond more quickly than adults. If your child has an aversion to needles, your acupuncturist may massage the acupuncture points. This is called acupressure or Tui Na.

What is cupping?

Cupping is a therapy designed to stimulate the flow of blood and Qi within the superficial muscle layers. It is used for sore muscles, tension, neck pain and the common cold. In this therapy, your acupuncturist will place small glass or plastic "cups" over specific areas on your body. A vacuum is created under the cup using heat or suction. They may be moved over an affected area or left in place. You may leave the office looking as though a large octopus gave you a big hug. There is no need for alarm. The slight redness will quickly dissipate.

What is Gwa Sha?

Gwa Sha is another technique used to release muscle tension, tightness and constriction. A specialized tool is used to gently scrape or rub the skin over a problem area. Gwa Sha feels a bit like deep tissue massage. This too many leave some slight redness that will quickly dissipate.

What is Tui Na?

Tui Na, translated as "push pull", is a Chinese massage-like treatment that closely resembles Shiatsu and other deep tissue therapies. This style of treatment can be used to prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal pain and stiffness, as well as helping with issues such as insomnia, constipation, headaches and stress-related tension. It is especially effective for joint pain (such as arthritis), sciatica, muscle spasms, and pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. Tui Na opens and guides the flow of Qi in the body to promote balance and health While some flexibility can be given to the amount of pressure and intensity during the treatment, the effectiveness of Tui Na is derived from deep, vigorous stimulation. It can be a powerful addition to your Chiropractic, Acupuncture and Western Massage treatment regimen.

What is combustion?

Combustion is a treatment that uses an herb called mugwort. It may be burned on the handle of the needle, above the skin, on salt or on a slice of ginger. This is used to "warm" acupuncture points or areas in order to quicken the healing process.

Why did my acupuncturist recommend Herbs?

Herbs can be a powerful adjunct to acupuncture care. They are used to strengthen, build and support the body or to clear it of excess problems like a cold, fever or acute pain. Your practitioner may suggest starting with herbs and then adding acupuncture to your treatment in the future. This is suggested to build up your internal strength so you can receive the full benefits acupuncture has to offer.