Oriental Medicine is one of the fastest growing fields within the booming American health care industry. Although millions of Americans have benefited from Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs, the philosophy behind such treatments remains strange and mysterious for some. Here are some of the most frequent questions about Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique that has been used for the last 3000 years by billions of people world-wide for a wide variety of conditions. Although it has evolved considerably with time, the fact that it is still widely practiced today speaks to its efficacy and durability. It uses fine needles to balance and facilitate the flow of Qi, or “vital energy” in the body, thereby maximizing its innate healing abilities. Acupuncture is a branch of Oriental Medicine, which also utilizes herbal remedies, dietary therapy, massage, exercise, and/or meditation to achieve overall physical, mental and spiritual health.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
From a Western scientific point of view, acupuncture has been proven to stimulate parts of the central and peripheral nervous systems, which in turn, affect all other systems of the body. Acupuncture triggers the release of natural pain fighting chemicals, neurotransmitters that affect the mood, as well as numerous hormones from the endocrine system.
From a Traditional Chinese perspective, acupuncture regulates and balances the flow of Qi, (“vital energy”) in order to maximize the body’s own innate healing abilities. Qi is considered to be the driving force behind the maintenance of life, and therefore, any blockage, deficiency or misdirection of Qi can result in pain, dysfunction and disease.
What are Acupuncture Points & Meridians?
Acupuncture points are considered low resistance, high conductivity points along the skin that act as major conduits of energy flow. They are located along meridians or channels through which Qi is said to circulate. Some scientists compare the meridian system to the nervous system.
What Conditions Can Be Treated With Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs?
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be used for a very wide variety of conditions, including musculo-skeletal, neurological, gastro-intestinal, respiratory, gynecological, urogenital, dermatological and psycho-emotional disorders. The World Health Organization (WHO) and National Institute for Health (NIH) have formally recommended acupuncture for over 50 disorders. Please refer to the moepage for a listing of specific disorders helped at our clinic. Problems for which acupuncture is not particularly effective are addressed primarily through herbal remedies, but may also utilize other therapies.
What Can I Expect During and After a Treatment?
The most important thing you can do during a treatment is to relax and breathe comfortably. Feel free to ask the practitioner any questions you may have. You can also minimize discomfort by avoiding sudden movements or changes in position. Treatment times can range anywhere from twenty to forty-five minutes, depending on the condition. In the rare event that you are uncomfortable or experience dizziness, nausea, cold-sweat or light-headedness, let the practitioner know immediately. Alcohol, drugs and strenuous physical activity should be avoided for at least six hours before and after the treatment.
Are Acupuncture Treatments Painful?
Acupuncture needles are as fine as hairs and generally cause very little discomfort. They are nowhere near as painful as hypodermic needles that are stiff, hollow and thick and are intended to inject or withdraw fluids. A slight pricking sensation may be felt when acupuncture needles pierce the skin, after which very little pain is felt.
How Many Treatments Should I Expect?
Because all patients are unique with respect to their condition and response to treatment, the number and frequency of treatments vary. In general, acute conditions require fewer treatments but greater frequency than chronic conditions. An example for an acute condition would be 2-3 treatments per week for 3-4 weeks. Some patients respond very favorably after 1-2 treatments, while others may take 9-10 treatments.
Do Insurance Companies Cover Acupuncture?
Although all insurance companies do not cover acupuncture, most major companies have started to provide coverage. You may ask your provider what they cover or we may assist you in this regard.
Are Chinese Herbs Safe and How Are They Used?
Chinese herbs generally have far fewer side effects than Western drugs. Although Chinese herbs can have side effects, they are generally very safe if the directions of the practitioner are followed. A very wide variety of conditions can be treated with Chinese herbs (as noted earlier), which can be administered as pills, tablets, liquid extracts or decoctions. If you are given raw herbs, you will be instructed on how to prepare an herbal tea or decoction.
How Does the Philosophy of Oriental Medicine and Western Medicine Differ?
Oriental Medicine acknowledges that there are cases where the expertise of Western Medicine in pharmaceutical drugs and/or surgery can become necessary. At the same time, Oriental Medicine recognizes that the body’s inherent healing abilities should be maximized through physical methods, such as acupuncture, and natural herbs and nutritional supplements before resorting to drugs and surgery. Another difference is that Oriental Medicine does not believe in merely treating physical symptoms, but in treating root causes and treating the body as a whole, to enable physical, emotional and spiritual health. Oriental Medicine also believes in taking the necessary time to fully understand the nature of your complaints.