FAQs about Acupuncture
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of several therapies used in Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture uses hair-thin, sterile, disposable needles inserted at specific points on the body to subtly influence how the body is functioning. Western science is not yet able to explain in its own terms the mechanism behind acupuncture, but has noted its effects on many of the body's systems including the neurological, endocrine, respiratory and digestive systems.
The Chinese medical model is based on an energetic system. Together with blood, Qi flows in a circuit around the body along channels, or meridians- which have been mapped out by hundreds of practitioners over thousands of years. Modern technology has since confirmed the location of these points through electromagnetic research. Each channel corresponds with an internal organ system.
When this circuit is running smoothly, the body is in balance and there is health. However, if there is a disturbance in the circuit, the resulting imbalance may cause a variety of symptoms including pain, digestive upset, insomnia, or any number of ailments. With the insertion of acupuncture needles, the proper flow along the circuit is reestablished, allowing the channels and their corresponding internal organs to return to a balanced state, and the body to normal physiological functioning.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is safe when practiced by a Licensed Acupuncturist. The needles used are prepackaged, sterile and disposable, virtually eliminating any chance of infection. Practitioners undergo 3-4 years of rigorous graduate level training and must pass National and/or or State Board Licensing exams. There are minor risks of bruising or bleeding with needle removal after the treatment. The shallow depth of insertion of the needles makes internal organ damage impossible.
Is acupuncture covered by health insurance?
Many insurance plans now provide coverage for acupuncture. The majority of flexible spending plans, also known as cafeteria benefit plans, will reimburse for acupuncture treatments as well. Ms. Searles is a preferred provider for several insurance companies. Please inquire to your insurer.
How much does treatment cost?
My fee schedule is based on a number of factors including whether you are a new or established patient, whether your health concerns are straight forward--simple or complex--additionally acupuncture treatments are billed depending on whether treatments involve position changes and reinsertion of needles. Additional charges are required for surgical or medical procedures. A 20% discount is offered to patients paying for services at the time of their visit with check or cash. No bank cards are accepted at this time. Co-pay, co-insurance, and deductible payments are due at the time of your visit.
What are your office hours
Typically, Monday through Friday 9 AM to 7 PM, Lunch from 12 - 2, Saturday appointments by special arrangements.
Why would I see an acupuncturist?
Many patients begin acupuncture treatment to find relief from a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, including: -muscle & joint pain -lack of energy and fatigue -headaches -stress and emotional upsets -allergies -digestion and elimination issues -sleep disorders -menstrual and menopausal disorders -chronic illness -addictions (i.e. tobacco) -support during serious illnesses, including -amelioration of the side effects of intensive medical treatment
Because acupuncture treatments reawaken the healing energies that are inherent in each of us, what often begins as a concern over a specific symptom or symptoms can transform into a deeper healing of the body, mind, and spirit.
What are the results?
Results will vary depending on the nature of the problem and how long it has been present. Typically, if it is a new problem, improvement and/or resolution may only take a few treatments. If the problem has been around for months or years, a longer course of treatment may be required. It is rare that resolution would be reached in a single treatment.
A typical course of treatment usually lasts somewhere between 5 to 10 sessions. Your practitioner will be able to discuss reasonable expectations for your particular condition after an evaluation.
The results are often different than you may expect. For example a client being treated to clear a skin problem found she also slept better and had less PMS symptoms. Treatments for arthritic knees also may decrease headaches, improve sleep, or reduce irritable bowel symptoms.
What is the treatment like?
Acupuncture treatment will start with a health history and rather extensive questioning about all aspects of the patient's condition. This is followed by an exam in which the practitioner feels the pulses, examines the tongue and palpates the channels. This gives the practitioner a lot of information about the internal state of the body. The appropriate treatment will then be decided upon for that day. If appropriate, you will receive dietary, herbal and lifestyle recommendations to enhance the effects of your treatments.
How big are the needles?
Acupuncture Needles are very thin, flexible and are nothing like the hypodermic needles people are familiar with. There is very little, if any, discomfort during their insertion. Some points are more sensitive than others, however. Once inserted, people report a variety of sensations including heaviness at the point of insertion, tingling, warmth, dull aching and/or a drawing sensation. Overall, people feel a deep sense of relaxation, and many even fall asleep during the treatment. By and large patients describe the initial sensations as fleeting and the long term sensations as deeply relaxing.
Do I have to be ill to benefit from acupuncture?
Absolutely not. Acupuncture is also a powerful preventive measure to keep patients healthy throughout the year. Just as you would have your car tuned up before problems occur, you can benefit from periodic acupuncture treatments.
How frequently do I need to come to benefit from treatment?
The frequency of treatments varies with each individual and condition. Typically, following the initial consultation, you will be seen in weekly one-hour sessions for 5-10 visits. During this time, significant signs of progress will likely appear.
In addition, acupuncture treatments will help you to recognize and maintain constructive life style choices that will support your healing and vitality. Working together, the benefits of your treatments can continue for longer intervals. As patients experience improvement in their condition and enjoy a greater sense of ease in life, treatments may be extended to every other week, every three weeks, monthly and eventually seasonal.
What do the herbal treatments do?
Herbal formulas consist of multiple herbs combined. There are 150,000 formulas recorded in Chinese medicine. Herbalists prescribe formulas specifically tailored for a particular patient and a particular medical manifestation of a condition. Herbals are effective for many health conditions, and have little side effect when prescribed by qualified practitioners. Patients will need a thorough diagnosis first and then be given a prescription of herbs. A prescription is used for a few weeks before patients are evaluated again.
Are Chinese herbs safe?
There has been special attention over the past few years in protecting the public from herbs which are tainted, toxic, or have known adverse effects. Both the Food and Drug Administration and Medical Practitioners with joint licensure in Western Medicine, Pharmacology and Chinese Medicine have been carefully accumulating safety data on herbs commonly used in traditional formulas. Clients taking high doses or in combination with western pharmaceuticals generally need to have blood checks done. Working in cooperation with your health care provider is encouraged.
How does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) view health and disease?
According to Chinese Taoism philosophy, all of creation is born from the marriage of two polar principles, Yin and Yang (cold and hot). Harmony of this union means health, while disharmony leads to disease. The strategy of Traditional Chinese medicine is to restore harmony.
The human body is comprised of Qi and blood. Qi is the energy force that gives us our capacity to move, think, feel, and work. Blood is the material foundation out of which we create bones, nerves, skin, muscles, and organs. The body is divided into five functional systems known as Organ Networks. These Networks govern particular tissues, mental faculties, and physical activities by regulating and preserving Qi and Blood.
Qi and Blood circulate within a web of pathways called channels (meridians), that link together all parts of the organism. We are healthy when adequate Qi and Blood flow smoothly. Symptoms as varied as joint pain, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, asthma, indigestion, and the common cold occur when their circulation is disrupted.
All illness is understood as a consequence of either depletion or a congestion of Qi and Blood. Depletion of qi leads to weakness, lethargy, frequent illness, poor digestion, and inadequate blood flow. Congestion results in aches, tension, tenderness, pain, a distended abdomen, irritability, and swelling.
How does TCM treat a health condition?
The goal of treatment is to adjust and harmonize Yin and Yang. This is achieved by regulating the qi and blood in the Organ Networks: Weak organs are tonified, congested channels are opened, excess is dispersed, tightness is softened, aggitation is calmed, heat is cooled, cold is warmed, dryness is moistened, and dampness is drained.
Treatment may incorporate acupuncture, herbal remedies, diet, massage, and exercise. Duration of treatment depends on the nature of the complaint, its severity, and how long it has been present. As symptoms improve, fewer visits are required. Individual progress is the yardstick.
How do Western Medicine and TCM differ?
Because Chinese medicine views the mind and body as ecosystems in miniature, it seeks to improve our capacity to balance and renew our intrinsic resources. Chinese medicine can minimize the erosion of our "soil" by enriching it, maximize the flow of nutrients by increasing circulation, and help prevent bottlenecks that obstruct vital movement.
Often Western medicine intervenes only after crises arise, whereas Chinese medicine anticipates problems by sustaining our interior harmony. By correcting depletion and stagnation at earlier stages, greater problems are avoided in the future.
Sometimes Western medicine has little to offer for nagging chronic conditions that Chinese medicine can help. One is not a substitute for the other. They are often complementary. Whereas Western medicine may heroically rescue us from acute life threatening illness, Chinese medicine can protect and preserve our health day to day.
In modern China, TCM is both taught as well as practiced alongside Western medicine. All of the major hospitals have Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine departments, and patients are often referred from one department to the other. Thus, Chinese patients are able to receive the best that each system has to offer, with combined Chinese herbal and Western drug therapy in serious cases. This has proven to be an extremely successful approach, with remarkable results achieved in such areas as cancer care, recovery from stroke, arthritis, skin diseases, heart disease, chronic degenerative diseases, post operative care, etc.
We strive to integrate the most effective TCM therapies into conventional healthcare, and provide you with the best values from both medical systems.
I want to come for treatment, what do I do next?
Contact me at (503) 943-9842 or via email at email@example.com to discuss what you would like to receive from treatment. We can schedule an initial appointment and explore a treatment schedule that will best meet your needs. Intake forms for new patients are available on my Contact page.
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Mona Searles, RN, ANP, LAc, MPH | Searles Wellness: