1. Will it hurt?
2. Do you re-use needles?
3. What happens during a treatment?
4. How many treatments will I need?
5. Can my child be treated?
6. How are herbs used?
7. Can I have an herbal consultation without receiving acupuncture?
8. Can I benefit from treatment even if there is nothing wrong?
Will it hurt?
When many people think of needles, their first thought is of the hypodermic needles used for medical injections. These needles are stiff, hollow, and thick for forcing fluid into the patient’s flesh. Happily, acupuncture needles are nothing like this! Modern acupuncture needles are fine and flexible, about as big around as a hair or a piece of thread.
When the needle is inserted into the skin, it is common for the patient to feel little, if any, sensation. Once the needle is in place, the acupuncturist may stimulate the needle by turning or otherwise moving it. This
is done in order to “reach the Qi” (pronounced ‘chee’) - meaning to access the energy of the body with the needle. When this happens, it is normal for the patient to feel one or more of the following sensations: a
spreading sensation, heaviness at the needle site, warmth, tingling, a sense of movement within the body, or an electric feeling. Most people find the experience to be quite relaxing and some may even fall asleep!
Do you re-use needles?
No, modern acupuncture needles are not re-used. They are sterile, single-use stainless steel needles, and they are disposed of immediately after your treatment.
back to top
What happens during a treatment?
You should prepare for your treatment by eating a light meal beforehand, drinking plenty of fresh water, and wearing loose, comfortable clothing that is easily pulled up over your elbows and knees. If you are taking prescription medication, be sure to bring a list of the medications you are taking. Your first visit will last about one and one half hours, and 45 minutes to an hour for subsequent visits.
Before your first visit, you will be asked to fill out an extensive health history questionnaire that will help guide the practitioner to her diagnosis. To begin your visit, the acupuncturist will do a comprehensive intake and exam, which will consist of asking numerous questions about your primary complaint as well as more general health issues, and performing any relevant physical exams. Often patients are surprised to find that many of their disparate health concerns are interrelated according to Chinese medical theory. The practitioner will then ask to see your tongue. In Chinese medicine, the appearance of the tongue tells many things about the patient’s overall health. She will then feel the pulses on both your wrists. Over twenty-six subtle variations in the quality of the pulse can be felt at six different positions on each wrist.
The acupuncturist will use all the information she has gathered to determine your diagnosis according to traditional Chinese medical theory. She will formulate a treatment plan including which acupuncture points to use, and whether or not to prescribe herbal medicine for you.Once this is done, your actual treatment will begin. Generally the patient is treated while lying down on a massage table, on some occasions the patient may be seated. The acupuncturist will insert the needles, and then make sure you are comfortable. She will allow you to relax and rest, retaining the needles for about 15 minutes.* She will then remove the needles, and your treatment will be over.
* At some point during your treatment your acupuncturist may choose to employ one of many additional modalities such as:
Moxibustion: the herb mugwort (artemesia vulgaris, or ‘moxa’) is rolled into cones or cylinders and burned near the skin as a warming therapy, to increase the speed of tissue healing, and to add energy to the body.
Cupping: glass cups are used to create a vaccum on the skin to increase warmth and circulation.
Gua Sha: a gentle scraping of the skin surface using a soft-edged gua sha tool to increase circulation.
Far-infrared Heat Therapy: administered using a heat lamp, it increases the speed of tissue healing, and is very soothing.
Electrical Stimulation (e-stim): a gentle and safe electrical current is run through the needles. Feels like a gentle tapping at the needle site.
Chinese style massage, or application of herbal liniments.
back to top
How many treatments will I need?
Because every patient is different, every case is different. In general, most patients feel some sort of change after the first visit (either immediately, or after a few hours). Most health problems take more than one
treatment to resolve, so expect to have four treatments before a reassessment.
If the problem is chronic, it generally requires more treatments. However, if it is an acute problem, it may be resolved in as little as three visits or less! This all depends on such factors as the severity of the complaint, how long-standing it has been, and the extent to which the patient’s daily activities aggravate the condition. Along the course of treatment, you should see an overall improvement in your health as your main complaint improves.
Can my child be treated?
Yes, Chinese medicine can be very beneficial for a host of childhood problems, including but not limited to colds, fevers, colic, acute and chronic ear infections, diarrhea, constipation, enuresis (bedwetting), and
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). While we do not usually use needles on small children, Chinese Pediatric Massage on acupuncture points is a very effective method of treatment.
It is also common to use electrical stimulation - by hooking up a small metal rod to an e-stim machine, we can deliver a gentle, comfortable current to the child’s skin, thus activating the acupuncture points. Small doses of Chinese herbal medicine are also very effective in treating pediatric conditions. When treated with Chinese medicine, children’s health issues tend to resolve even more quickly than adults’, due to children’s relatively “pure” natures.
back to top
How are herbs used in Chinese medicine?
Plants and other natural substances have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It is from this practice that modern day pharmacology has emerged. In Chinese herbology, herbs are used in specific, individualized formulations containing anywhere from two to twenty different herbs that work together synergistically (unlike western herbology which commonly uses one herb alone).
Herbs are powerful medicinals which offer extraordinary results - when prescribed by a trained medical professional. When used properly, there are little to no side-effects.
If your Oriental Medical Practitioner feels that herbs would benefit your condition, she will create a personalized formula for you using either dried granulated herbs that are made into a tea, raw herbs, or a pre-made pill or tincture formula.
Can I have an herbal consultation without receiving acupuncture?
Yes. As well as being a Licensed Acupuncturist, Ms. Hawken is a Certified Chinese Herbalist, and would be happy to treat you exclusively with Chinese herbal medicine if that is what you prefer. Consider, though, that Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture combine very well, and used together may speed the resolving of your condition.
Can I benefit from treatment even if there is nothing wrong?
Yes, you can. Traditional Chinese medical theory states that a person is constantly in a state of dynamic balance. This means that a person's state of health is always changing, subtly moving in one direction or another. Chinese medicine is focused on bringing the body, mind and spirit back into the center of this balance. There is an old Chinese saying, "Don't wait until you're thirsty to dig a well." This emphasizes the conviction that staying healthy is much more valuable than having to recover from an illness. Preventative medicine is truly at the heart of Chinese medical theory. In fact, in ancient China, the acupuncturist was only paid as long as his patient was well!
Because the diagnostic process of Chinese medicine relies on reading the state of balance of the patient (through methods such as pulse diagnosis and tongue reading), it is not necessary for you, as the patient, to report anything "wrong".
It is a wonderful idea, and a traditional one, to receive acupuncture treatment four times a year, at the change of seasons, to help the body cope with the stresses that the changing weather brings - even if the patient is feeling fine.
back to top