Asked Questions

Below are some common questions about acupuncture, east asian medicine and Chinese medicine.

The short answer is no.

Acupuncture works by optimizing your body’s self-healing capabilities. With treatment we are trying to initiate a therapeutic response from the body. In order to create the right conditions for this to happen, we are trying to help your body access a place of ease and relaxation.

Ideally, my goal for my patients is that they don’t feel anything (other than progressively more relaxed) when I am performing an acupuncture treatment. In reality, it isn’t totally uncommon for a patient to feel a slight sensation on needle insertion but it should very quickly go away. Any discomfort experienced inhibits the body from being able to access this place of ease and relaxation we are working towards.

Qi can be understood as the animating lifeforce of all living things, as well as a way to think about the body’s innate intelligence and self-healing capacities. It’s the basis of all physiological activity in East Asian medicine and a very important component of diagnosis and treatment.

Acute issues can see improvement in as little as 1-2 treatments. Chronic, complex, and longstanding issues can take longer to see more robust improvement. Degenerative conditions may require many treatments spread out over time.

In the beginning, I generally see patients once per week for 3-4 weeks and after that we will spread out treatments to once every 2-3 weeks. At the 4th treatment mark, I will have a clearer sense of what is going on from an East Asian medicine perspective and in the majority of cases patients will see improvement in the main problem(s) that brought them to treatment.

To reduce the number of treatments needed and increase efficacy, I may suggest herbal formulas, dietary recommendations, meditation/relaxation techniques, and exercises.

The practice of acupuncture involves obtaining a therapeutic response from the body through the insertion of extremely thin, sterile, single-use-only needles. Acupuncture promotes natural healing, improved bodily function, and a deep sense of well-being. From a Western biomedical perspective, acupuncture helps to improve blood flow and microcirculation, calm the nervous system, induces the body to release “feel good” and pain-relieving neurochemicals, releases muscular tension and adhesive constrictions, helps to stimulate the immune system, and more.

It’s a good idea to take it easy the rest of the day, avoid strenuous exercise or events, as well as intoxicating substances, and stay hydrated in order to help your body integrate the treatment.

The effects of an acupuncture treatment are not always immediate. I recommend my patients check in with themselves to assess their pain level/how they are feeling 2-3 days after a treatment.

Licensed acupuncturists and herbalists go through a 3-4 year masters level training program involving classroom study, clinical practice, supervision, and extensive study of biomedicine. Acupuncturists in the state of Colorado are overseen by the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). National certification requires passing board exams that demonstrate high-level proficiency in acupuncture, herbal medicine prescribing, and Western biomedicine. Practitioners go through a recertification process every 4 years.

Acupuncture orients to East Asian medical theory, point location, and channel/meridian pathway. Trigger point/dry needling is a style of needling that can be effective in releasing tight muscular junctions and treating myofascial pain. It involves inserting a needle into a targeted tight location (called a “trigger point”) causing the taut muscle tissue to unwind and release. Both approaches can be effective for treating pain and I use both in my clinical practice.

Not all patients respond positively to the practice of trigger point/dry needling. When performed incorrectly, it can be needlessly painful and unpleasant, causing the body to contract and guard. It can also be needlessly unpleasant when trigger point/dry needling is performed vigorously on tendons and ligaments, or small muscle groups (such as the master muscles in the jaw).

It’s also important to remember that the area where the symptoms are being experienced is not always responsible for causing the pain. As an example – a patient experiencing recurring pain in the right shoulder (ruling out for major tears in the rotator cuff or AC joint separations/fractures) may get only limited relief from local trigger point/dry needling treatment because what is actually causing the pain is a different structure in the body pulling on the shoulder.

Yes, they are safe when prescribed by a licensed practitioner. The tradition of East Asian herbal medicine has been around for thousands of years. Many herbs in the pharmacopoeia are recognizable to many people in the west including ginger, goji berries, dates, ginseng, mint, and astragalus. I only prescribe herbs from companies that meet the highest standards in quality and safety.

Not if the formula is correctly prescribed for the patient. Although certain conditions may require taking herbs over a longer period of time, signs that the herbal formula is working should be apparent to both the patient and the practitioner from the beginning.

Yes – when prescribed by a licensed practitioner of East Asian medicine. Certain herbs and formulas are contraindicated for patients who are pregnant or are nursing, so it’s important to consult with a licensed practitioner with experience treating women’s health conditions.

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