Frequently Asked Questions
What is acupuncture for?
Pretty much everything. Oh. You wanted details?
Acupuncture is a complete system of medicine, and can be used to address most conditions. Most frequently though, patients most often come in for these kinds of issues:
• Pain: Arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle tension, repetitive stress injuries, sports injuries, etc.
• OB/GYN: painful periods, fibroids, endometriosis, PMS, menopause (hot flashes, insomnia & other symptoms), etc.
• Mind-body related issues: insomnia, depression, anxiety, stress, exhaustion, burnout, etc.
•“No one has been able to help.” Acupuncturists see many of "patients of last resort." This often includes digestive problems (such as IBS), autoimmune disorders, and more nebulous things like fatigue.
Does it hurt?
Not usually. The most common sensation is a very brief pinch when the needle is first inserted. However, it varies. Some people don’t feel the needles go in at all. Others are more sensitive.
How long until I feel better?
My goal is to always send someone out feeling better than when they came in. That said, it depends on what you’re being treated for, and how well you respond to treatment.
Usually, the more recent the problem, the quicker the fix. We generally consider 5-10 sessions to be a course of treatment, but you may feel some relief, or even significant relief, much sooner. Women's cyclical issues, such as period related problems, on average, will be treated for at least three-four months. Complicated and/or chronic conditions may take longer.
What about Herbs?
Traditional Chinese herbology grew up parallel to acupuncture in ancient China. There’s a lot of overlap. Many conditions can be treated well by both herbs and acupuncture. Some things are treated much better with herbs:
• Tonics for when the patient is generally exhausted or run down.
• Skin conditions such as eczema and acne.
• Hot Flashes and the other signs of hormonal changes at menopause, such as anxiety and sleep issues.
• Complex conditions that don’t respond to acupuncture (or respond slowly), will often respond to herbs. Herbs are often used to support the acupuncture treatment and increase its effectiveness.
What herbs do you use?
Some are commonly found in health stores, like ginseng and ginger. Others are only grown in China and are completely unfamiliar to the layman. There are about 300 herbs commonly used. The total pharmacopeia is about 3000 herbs strong.
How are they used?
Chinese herbs are rarely used alone. Instead, they are used in formulas containing 4 to 15 herbs. These combinations enhance and balance each other, to minimize side effects. Herbal formulas come in both pill and tea form. Generally, the teas are stronger and fresher and customized to each individual client, while the pills (“teapills”) are slightly more general purpose and frequently used for maintenance after significant change has been achieved.
As the herbal prices from china have gone up significantly in the years I’ve been in practice, I work with the teapills as often as I can. I promise, if I recommend whole herb teas, it’s because it really is that important, and YES, it really does make a difference.
Do you do anything else with herbs?
Actually, yes. I'm glad you asked. :) I frequently use herbs externally (as liniments, plasters and poultices) for pain and injuries. The fresher the injury is, the faster the combination of acupuncture and herbs can help it to heal. This is actually one of the areas where chinese medicine absolutely shines; if you come into my office within 24-48 hours of injuring yourself (sprain/strain type injury) and avoid the use of ice, you may be astonished at how quickly you recuperate. (But please, please, have some common sense -- if you hit your head, break a bone, or suspect you've done major damage to yourself, PLEASE, for the love of god, go to a doctor, urgent care center, or emergency room ASAP to get evaluated!)
Additionally, I sometimes make use of essential oils in my practice. Essential Oils are highly concentrated herbal essences, and a great many of the commonly used essential oils are part of the chinese herbal tradition.
Can acupuncture help me stop smoking?
Definitely. It doesn't make it effort-free, but it does make it a lot easier. The statistics say that trying to quit on your own has about a 1% chance of succeeding. Studies agree that acupuncture is very helpful in this area. Depending on which study, when getting treated by acupuncture, your chance of success is between 20% and 60%. Personally, in my practice, I’ve seen about a 40-50% success rate. That’s pretty decent odds.
Okay, but how does acupuncture help me quit?
Acupuncture is very helpful at helping to calm the anxiety, agitation, irritability and munchies that are the withdrawal symptoms that accompany tobacco withdrawal. Your chances of success are best when you are treated at least twice a week. To that end, I have a special package price for people trying to quit smoking, where followup treatments (in the same calendar week, Sunday - Saturday, in the forest hills office) are complimentary. Additionally, I make sure to go over success and habit change strategies with everyone looking for clean and healthy lungs. Together, we figure out your triggers and plot ways around them rather than relying on willpower alone.
Can acupuncture make me lose weight?
Yes and no. No in that the needles will not magically make a person lose weight. A person still has to eat well. However acupuncture CAN significantly help remove obstacles to losing weight. For example, the following are all things I can help with:
* Binge-eating due to stress or anxiety
* Withdrawal and cravings from cutting sugar and/or refined grains from your diet
* Constant hunger, even an hour after you've eaten
* Fatigue and lethargy (which make it harder to exercise)
* Insomnia (sleep deprivation has been linked in studies to weight gain)
*Stress (high levels of stress hormones are strongly linked to weight gain/retention)
Additionally, I counsel diet changes from the perspectives of traditional chinese medicine, nutrient density, blood sugar control, and the ancestral health movement.
Wait, you mean my period doesn't have to hurt? And I don’t have to be a ragebeast once a month??
Chinese medicine is wonderful at treating gynecological issues. A painful period is a symptom that your body is out of balance. Likewise with PMS, overly heavy bleeding, morning sickness, menopausal hot flashes, etc. Acupuncture and chinese herbology often have surprisingly good results at treating these and most other women's health issues.