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Acupuncture FAQ:



How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points known to be effective in resolving different health problems. Modern Western science has multiple explanations, and it has been empirically shown to be effective over thousands of years in restoring and maintaining health. As acupuncture progresses as the fastest growing medicine in the world, an increasing number of scientific studies are underway to provide further evidence of its effectiveness and elucidate its mechanisms in Western scientific terms.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is said that there is a subtle energy that vitalizes the body and is known as Qi (pronounced “chee”). Acupuncture adjusts the flow of this vital energy, clearing areas where there is blockage, reducing it where it is in excess, and drawing it into areas where it is insufficient. In this way, acupuncture reestablishes balance throughout the body, and through this balance, the body is able to heal itself.

Who can benefit from acupuncture treatment?

Acupuncture is beneficial to people of all ages and all stages of wellness or disease. At any stage of life the human body is able to move towards a state of greater balance and harmony, providing improved health and well-being. People suffering from a wide range of disorders can gain relief from their suffering very readily using acupuncture.

Many people receive acupuncture treatment as a way to ensure that their body will continue to maintain good health and balance. It is absolutely not necessary to wait until you have a complaint before receiving acupuncture treatment. One of the great strengths of this approach is its ability to ward off disease by resolving the effects of everyday stress that pulls the body gradually out of balance. A symptom generally arises as a last-stage of a long term accumulation of stresses and imbalances in the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, elimination of the symptom is just one piece of the overall approach. The greater value is in using acupuncture to bring the body to optimal wellness and keeping it there.



Can children be treated with acupuncture?

Children are often treated with acupuncture, acupressure and herbs. Many children are comfortable with acupuncture needles, which are very fine and painlessly inserted. In the treatment of children a small number of needles are used and sometimes only massage techniques are used. Children are often treated with herbal therapy, in conjunction with acupuncture or on its own. Children respond very well to Traditional Chinese Medicine and it can help them through the common childhood illnesses in a way that supports their ongoing growth and health.


Is acupuncture good for the elderly?​
Using acupuncture, elderly patients are able to gain tremendous support, increased vitality, and reduction or elimination of unwanted symptoms. Very often elderly patients experience not being taken seriously when presenting with physical or mental/emotional conditions that are common at this stage of life. They are told it is normal to have these conditions as they age. Using acupuncture, many of these so-called “normal” conditions can be alleviated in the elderly. A body at any age can be brought to greater balance and harmony, and this is no less true as we grow older.



​Can pregnant women receive acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine?​
Acupuncture and herbs have been used for over 2,000 years to treat pregnant women. There are a number acupuncture points and selected herbs that are contraindicated during pregnancy. As long as you work with a qualified practitioner, acupuncture and herbs can help relieve various symptoms occurring during pregnancy, including morning sickness, and provide benefit to the developing fetus. Lactating mothers can also take herbal medicine safely. In fact, small babies are sometimes treated with herbs by supplying those herbs to the mother, who then makes them available to the baby through her breast milk.


​Is acupuncture safe?
When performed by a licensed acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe. All needles used are sterile, disposable and used only once. There is virtually no chance of infection occurring as a result of acupuncture treatment. The needles are generally inserted from one quarter to one half inch in depth and retained in position for 15-30 minutes. Needles never touch the organs but work within the superficial layers of skin and musculature of the body. Blood vessels are flexible and tend to move aside when the fine needles are inserted. In some cases a small blood vessel may be punctured and a small bruise may appear for a few days after treatment. Occasionally, patients experience a slight light-headedness immediately after treatment which resolves within minutes.



​It acupuncture painful?
Acupuncture needles are extremely thin, and their insertion is virtually painless. In many cases you will not even know that the needles are in place. Once the needles are inserted, they are manipulated gently and at this time there may be a characteristic sensation of tingling, heaviness, or movement of energy along the meridian.

Trigger point release is a special form of needling that involves the stimulation of muscles to relieve painful tension and spasm. It is extremely effective in clearing muscle tension, whether from stress or injury. The sensations associated with this type of needling are unique and more pronounced. A trigger point is associated with a tight band within a muscle and it is stimulated to cause the muscle to relax. In the process, the muscle will “twitch” as it’s releasing. This is a very unusual sensation and it can be momentarily painful. The muscle will also have a characteristic “soreness” for about 24 hours after trigger point release.


​Are there different styles of acupuncture?
There are many different styles of acupuncture. Over time, as acupuncture spread throughout Asia, the styles diverged based on different cultures and experiences. Also, it was very common in China and throughout Asia to have family lineages. These families typically developed an emphasis on one approach over another, and specific approaches to treatment were more fully developed within that lineage. All of this knowledge and experience is becoming available to us in the West. Therefore, different practitioners may utilize very different styles. Ideally, any of these approaches will have the capacity to treat your body and restore balance.

Auricular acupuncture has become widely known and involves treatment of points on the outer surface of the ear for complaints throughout the body. It is most known for its use in supporting patients who are quitting smoking or other forms of substance abuse, as well as in regulating appetite for those working on weight loss. There are many other uses for auricular acupuncture. We utilize auricular acupuncture when appropriate, often as an adjunct to body acupuncture.
In our practice we focus on Classical Chinese Acupuncture and what is known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a more modern derivative of the classical approach. Each has its own strengths and we will apply the appropriate style for your condition and temperament.

One of the most significant stylistic developments in the practice of acupuncture has occurred as it has gained popularity in the West. Traditional Chinese acupuncture tends to be applied to the patient by the doctor, with little or no explanation provided. American acupuncture, as it might be called, incorporates a greater degree of patient interaction and involvement in the process. We explain our assessment and treatment so that you can better understand and participate in your own health.



​What do I need to do to prepare for acupuncture treatment?
The best thing to do is to make sure you have eaten within 1-4 hours prior to your treatment. Do not come for treatment on an empty stomach. It’s also best to avoid treatment immediately after a heavy meal. Also, do not drink alcohol prior to treatment.



​What is Chinese herbal medicine used for?
Chinese herbal formulas are used for a wide range of disorders, from insomnia, fatigue, skin health, the common cold and flu to allergies, indigestion, morning sickness and hot flashes. Herbal formulas are often recommended in combination with your acupuncture treatment to increase effectiveness and accelerate progress. They can be taken at home and help to reduce the number of treatments required to resolve a condition.

​How are Chinese herbs taken?
In our practice we generally use herbs that are tableted, powdered, or made into liquid tinctures. Each of these forms is easily administered and requires no preparation.
Traditionally, another form of administering Chinese herbal medicine is as a “tea” or decoction made out of the raw herbs, and this remains an option for modern patients. In our Kauai practice we have found that most people’s schedules don’t leave much time for the preparation of the decoctions, and many people find the odor or taste too strong. This is why we emphasize the simpler forms of administration – tablets, powders and tinctures.

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