Frequently Asked Questions
What should I expect from my initial consultation/treatment?
The initial consultation/treatment may take up to 75 minutes while the follow-up treatments are closer to 45 minutes. We discuss a comprehensive medical history and perform any necessary orthopedic and/or physical exam tests. The medical history includes a wide range of questions such as physical/emotional symptoms, diet, sleep patterns, bowel/urinary function, activity level among many more. Next there is careful attention made to the tongue and pulse, which are critical to Chinese medical diagnosis.
The tongue is the ‘sprout of digestion’, and similar to the ear, different parts of the tongue correspond to different organs. We look at the tongue body, coat, color, shape, and quality. The pulse is taken using the practitioner’s first three fingers on each wrist. Each finger corresponds to an organ/energy system within the body, and gives us valuable diagnostic information. After a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan is discussed and points are selected accordingly, along with any additional modalities such as herbs, massage, exercise, or dietary suggestions.
How many treatments will I need?
Just like every human is different, each individual case is unique and the course of treatments will vary. A person’s age, activity level, health history, lifestyle, diet, emotions, occupation, and environment are all factors that contribute to the healing process. The results and benefits of a treatment course are cumulative over time, yet it is not uncommon to have immediate results. Acute conditions often have sudden onsets accompanied by intense symptoms. This treatment course usually is 2-8 treatments, with occasional follow-up visits for prevention and maintenance. Chronic conditions that have persisted for years or have not responded to other forms of treatment usually take 8-10 weeks or more to treat. Herbal medicine, massage therapy, exercise, diet recommendations and other healing modalities can be prescribed for added benefit, quicker recovery, and better overall health.
Do you take insurance?
Yes! Many insurance companies cover acupuncture under their health plans. Please contact me and I can verify your coverage, copay, and number of treatments allowable per year.
Do I need a referral from my doctor?
Not usually. In California acupuncturists are considered primary care physicians, meaning a referral is not usually necessary. However, some insurance companies require pre-authorization from your MD, which we can verify for you.
I’m getting surgery soon. Should I come in before or after?
Follow the guidelines of your surgeon regarding pre-and post-op treatments. Typically acupuncture works great with physical therapy both before and after surgery to reduce pain, inflammation, and increase circulation and range of motion, while reducing the appearance of scarring.
I’m sick on the day of my appointment…should I cancel my appointment?
Yes. Please call us if you are sick on the day of your appointment. We strive to keep our office germ-free for the rest of our staff and for other patients. We can do an herbal consultation over the phone and send out herbs same-day for most illnesses.
Is there anything I should do before or after a treatment?
Acupuncture is a gentle and safe treatment. There are no side effects and no medication being injected. Before a treatment we suggest eating a light snack or meal and before and after your treatment drink plenty of water.
How can I get the most out of my treatments?
Commit to the treatment plan:
Acupuncture has a cumulative effect and each treatment builds upon the last one. In acute cases, it is important to get multiple treatments closer together, while chronic conditions often require fewer treatments over a longer period of time. Healing is a process, and consistency with treatments is optimal for better results.
Eat Well & Exercise: Our diet is one of the most important lifestyle considerations that can prevent illness and promote our overall health. Whole fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of lean meat and fish, healthy fats such as nuts and avocados, and whole grains and legumes should be the basis of most people’s diets. Careful consideration should be made for specific conditions and those on medications, and should be monitored by your physician. Movement and exercise is also a key component to a healthy mind and body. It is beneficial to every cell and organ system in the body and has been clinically proven to improve focus and concentration, reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve mood.
Practice stress management:
In our daily lives we often don’t pay attention to the daily stresses that can build up in our bodies and minds. Over time, this can lead to sleep disturbances, high blood pressure, skin problems, digestive issues, and a host of other problems. Take a yoga class, meditate, go for a walk during your lunch break, walk your dog on the beach, or go for a bike ride. These daily routines will improve your overall mental, physical, and emotional health, along with mental stability and balance.
Be aware and conscious of your health:
Take note of subtle changes you feel during and after treatments, the ease and stability of your breath, your mental or emotional state, your sleep patterns, what you eat and what activities you do and how that is affecting your overall health. The more you understand and are aware of yourself, the better your body will become at healing itself. The mind and body are interconnected.
Have goals and intention for good health:
What do you want to accomplish during treatment that day? How can you cultivate the feeling of relaxation and clarity during treatment to continue into daily life? Put your intention into letting that happen. Acknowledge that you are taking the time to take care of your health; which is one of the most valuable treasures in life.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is one of the safest treatment options available when performed by a licensed practitioner. Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA, despite the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used. The incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than many drugs or medical procedures used for the same conditions. Acupuncture needles are solid, stainless steel, disposable, and are no bigger than a human hair or piece of thread. They do not contain a pharmaceutical agent.
The government requires acupuncturists to follow very strict sterilization procedures. In addition, pre-sterilized acupuncture needles are manufactured, packaged, and shipped in sterilized containers. There are virtually no negative side effects from acupuncture. Most people feel very relaxed and often fall asleep during a treatment. Following an acupuncture treatment many report feeling ‘euphoric’, which is likely due to acupuncture stimulating the central nervous system to release opiods (pain relieving substances) and serotonin (the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter in the brain).
Does it hurt?
No. Acupuncture can sometimes feel dull, achy, heavy, warm, and is usually not painful. Most people are quite relaxed during treatments and often fall asleep.
How deep are the needles inserted?
Depending on the location of the point and the intention of the practitioner, the needle can be lightly touched on the surface or at a deeper level to get a stronger qi sensation. The patient is always in a safe environment where the number of needles and needle depth can be modified if necessary.
Can I get acupuncture if I’m using another form of treatment?
Absolutely. Integrative medicine and the combination of the best aspects of both Eastern and Western medicine are ideal. Acupuncture is a powerful system that alone can produce profound results. However, massage therapy, herbal medicine, physical therapy, counseling, and other modalities may also be needed. Please consult with your primary care physician regarding any questions or concerns that you may have.
Will I bleed?
Most points on most people do not bleed. However, some parts of the body, such as the ears and face are more prone to bleed, which is very minimal. Licensed acupuncturists are well trained practitioners of the human body, and we are well aware of organs, veins, and blood vessels.
How long do the needles stay in?
The needles typically stay in between 10-20 minutes, depending on the person and condition being treated.
Why/when do I need a ‘maintenance’ treatment?
TCM is designed equally to treat conditions and prevent illness. With people’s busy lives, work, and family, we often look to solutions far after they have compromised our health. It is common practice in China to receive ‘maintenance’ acupuncture treatments to preserve good health. One of the foundations of Chinese medicine is observing nature and its subtle affects on the body during different times of the year. It is therefore especially important to get a seasonal ‘tune-up’ at the beginning of each season to promote resilience within the body.
What is ear (auricular) acupuncture?
The surface of the ear is viewed as a microcosm of the entire body. Stimulating appropriate ear points often effectively treats pain and disease in the corresponding structures or organs. Some practitioners use auricular acupuncture exclusively due to its effectiveness.
What is the smoking cessation/detoxification program?
There is an empirically recognized 5-point ear protocol, called NADA, that has been carefully developed and researched for the treatment of smoking and addictions. There is strong evidence to support the effect of the NADA protocol in improving patient addiction program retention, reductions in cravings, anxiety, sleep disturbance and need for pharmaceuticals. According to 2000 data from the US government, more than 700 publicly licensed addiction treatment programs in the country include acupuncture as a therapeutic tool. NADA estimates that more than 2000 such sites exist worldwide including North America, in nearly every European country including Russia, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, the Caribbean and Mexico. Globally, more than 25,000 health workers have completed the NADA training.
Can I get acupuncture if nothing is “wrong” with me?
Absolutely. Acupuncture is a medicine of prevention, rather than intervention, meaning that we aim to prevent illness before it arises. Proper diet, exercise, balance of work and rest, emotional and mental stability, and acupuncture treatments are all integral components of maintaining good health. If every system is working in harmony and you have no health concerns, the minimal treatment plan is four times per year at the change in seasons. There are seasonal shifts (even in San Diego!) that affect our systems and energy cycles.
What is the training involved to become an acupuncturist?
TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) education in California consists of over 3,500 hours of training in both Eastern and Western medicine. Similar to Western medical schools, extensive diagnostic and clinical skills are developed over 4 years to treat every system in the body. In California, acupuncturists are considered primary care physicians, meaning we do not need a referral from an MD. Please refer to the Acupuncture California State Board and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine websites for licensed practitioners in your area.
I’ve had acupuncture in the past that didn’t work for me. Why should I try it again?
Many times patients try acupuncture once and decide it didn’t work for them. In Western medicine we often look to strong prescriptions or surgery to “fix” the problem as quickly as possible. In Eastern medicine, the focus is on restoring balance within all systems of the body, which often takes more than one session. Each treatment process is unique, with progress varying greatly depending on past and current medical history, age, diet, lifestyle, and genetic make-up. Also, each practitioner has a different style of treatment, so try out a few before you decide on one you like.
What is the most common condition you treat/people come seek out acupuncture?
In my experience, most people seek out acupuncture because of pain or stress. Many times people come in for one health issue, and realize acupuncture can be used to treat any health concern. Chinese medicine is about treating the whole person and getting all systems in balance. When the body is in balance, there is no pain, illness, or disease.
How soon can I come in after a TBI / concussion?
Same day or as soon as possible. Acupuncture has been clinically shown to increase BDNF, or brain derived neurotrophic factor, which spares brain cells and helps with regeneration.
I’m pregnant. Can I get acupuncture?
Yes! Prenatal acupuncture has been used for centuries to promote a healthy pregnancy for both mom and baby. It can treat a variety of symptoms such as morning sickness, swelling, pain, headaches, gestational diabetes, and a breech presentation. Of course, always consult your MD before beginning any additional health plan.
I am interested in labor induction. When should I come in?
If you have a normal, healthy pregnancy and get clearance from your OBGYN, typically we start labor induction treatments at week 38-40. Acupuncture is gentle and safe; and can take a few treatments to start labor.
How does acupuncture work for labor induction?
Acupuncture is gentle and safe. It stimulates uterine contractions and helps your body release oxytosin. It also prepares your body for an easier labor and delivery.
I have a breech baby. When can I come in and what should I expect?
It is safe to get acupuncture as soon as you find out you have a breech baby and get clearance from your OBGYN. During the treatment, we needle a specific point on your toe along body points, and send you home with a moxa stick and directions to continue the treatment at home. It is safe and gentle and can support exercises and ECV (external cephalic version).
Can’t find what you’re looking for?
There are always those questions that are based on circumstance or sheer curiosity. Whatever is is, we would like to help you get more familiar with the process so that your first visit (or sequential experience) goes as well as possible. Ultimately, you should feel comfortable with who you receive treatment from; feel free to click the button below and submit a question, or call us today!