What can acupuncture treat?
The ancient healing science of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses many tools including
acupuncture, cupping, tui na (Chinese medical massage) and more to treat a wide variety of
symptoms and conditions. In ancient times patients paid their TCM practitioner only when
they were healthy, as the medicine was used for preventative purposes, and stopped paying
when they were ill. A medicine capable of preventing illness before it begins has the capacity
to treat illness at its peak with effective tools. At Natural Alternatives we concentrate on the
link between stress and the effects it has on the average American. This can include things like
digestive problems, migraines, tight muscles, irritability, or even autoimmune diseases. We also
have the resources to treat many other symptoms like musculoskeletal pain or women’s issues.
In fact we even have tools to treat the common cold! If you have questions please give us a call
today and we can help you discover healthcare that works!
What can I expect my first visit?
Before you visit us will be asked to fill out some paperwork that will include a questionnaire
about your health and lifestyle which you will bring to our office for us to discuss during your
first visit. Your first office visit will vary a bit from follow-up visits because it is our first time
meeting and we will be discussing your health needs. During this time we will talk at length
about your overall health and lifestyle. This way we can see a holistic vision of your complete
body systems and build a road map for future visits. It is important to remember to inform us of
any other healthcare you are receiving and any medications, vitamins, or herbal supplements you
are taking. After our consultation we will begin your first treatment. If you have never received
acupuncture before expect your first treatment to be simple and relaxing as to ease you into the
process. The whole first visit will last about 85 minutes with follow up visits to last about 60
Does it hurt?
It is important to keep in mind that acupuncture is a stimulation therapy without sensation there
is no result. That being said it is important to explore what sensation means. Many people
experience acupuncture needle sensation in many different ways. Typical sensations at the
needle site are tingling, aching, crawling, burning. There is also a sensation as the needle
punctures the skin that may at times have no feeling at all or resemble that of a mosquito bite.
Acupuncture should be a calming experience and it should not be terribly painful, there may be
some discomfort for some people, but it should not be an uncomfortable experience for anyone.
How many times will I need to come in for treatments?
Each person and each person’s needs will vary. So it is important to keep in mind that chronic,
long-term conditions will need more attention whereas acute, ‘new’ problems may take fewer
visits. Each case needs individual attention and to answer this question in generalized manner
would be difficult. Overall, the goal is to get you healthy and to get you to a place where you’re
able to stay healthy without our constant care.
What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
According to the NIH (National Institute of Health) Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM): “A
whole medical system that was documented in China by the 3rd century B.C. TCM is based on
a concept of vital energy, or qi, that is believed to flow throughout the body. It is proposed to
regulate a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical balance and to be influenced by
the opposing forces of yin (negative energy) and yang (positive energy). Disease is proposed
to result from the flow of qi being disrupted and yin and yang becoming unbalanced. Among
the components of TCM are herbal and nutritional therapy, restorative physical exercises,
meditation, acupuncture, and remedial massage.”
“Acupuncture is one of the key components of the system of Traditional Chinese medicine
(TCM). In the TCM system of medicine, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing
and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle, while
yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. One of the major assumptions in TCM is
that health is achieved by maintaining the body in a “balanced state” and that disease is due to
an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (vital
energy) along pathways known as meridians. It is believed that there are 12 main meridians and
8 secondary meridians and that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body
that connect with them.”
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for over 2,000 years using acupuncture
to successfully heal millions. TCM theory includes the study of 12 meridians in the body all
connected with or representing internal organs. Along these meridians, which cover the entire
body, are points of emphasis that can stimulate a certain response within the body. The insertion
of hair thin stainless steel solid needles acts as a trigger for stimulation therapy. Its not that the
needles put something into the body or take something out, but instead the sensation felt by the
body acts as a dial on a thermostat telling that organ or meridian to do things like turn down the
heat or adjust the circulation to different areas of the body. The meridians also act as channels
for nourishment circulating qi (energy) and blood all over the body. In the case of most disease
there is a dysfunction of the circulation within these meridians.
TCM offers other modalities besides acupuncture including tui na (therapeutic massage),
cupping, moxibustion, diet therapy, lifestyle coaching, and Chinese herbal prescriptions.
What is Qi?
Qi is the Traditional Chinese Medical term for vital energy or life force. It is believed to
regulate a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical balance, and to be influenced
by the opposing forces of yin and yang (yin representing water and yang fire both of equal
proportions). Qi follows the meridians and vessels of the body and flows with the blood of the
body (partial information found on NIH website).
According to the National Institutes of Health…
In the past two decades, acupuncture has grown in popularity in the United States. The report
from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the National Institutes
of Health (NIH) in 1997 stated that acupuncture is being “widely” practiced–by thousands of
physicians, dentists, acupuncturists, and other practitioners–for relief or prevention of pain and
for various other health conditions. According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey–the
largest and most comprehensive survey of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use
by American adults to date–an estimated 8.2 million U.S. adults had ever used acupuncture, and
an estimated 2.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.
According to the NIH Consensus Statement on Acupuncture, there have been many studies
on acupuncture’s potential usefulness, but results have been mixed because of complexities
with study design and size, as well as difficulties with choosing and using placebos or sham
acupuncture. However, promising results have emerged, showing efficacy of acupuncture, for
example, in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative
dental pain. There are other situations–such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache,
menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low-back pain,
carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma–in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment
or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. An
NCCAM-funded study recently showed that acupuncture provides pain relief, improves function
for people with osteoarthritis of the knee, and serves as an effective complement to standard
care. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will
Visit the NCCAM Web site, or call the NCCAM Clearinghouse for more information on
scientific findings about acupuncture.
Read the NIH Consensus Statement on Acupuncture, to learn what scientific experts have said
about the use and effectiveness of acupuncture for a variety of conditions.
Preclinical studies have documented acupuncture’s effects, but they have not been able to fully
explain how acupuncture works within the framework of the Western system of medicine that
is commonly practiced in the United States. It is proposed that acupuncture produces its effects
through regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such
as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have
shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters
and neurohormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to
sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a
person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.
For More Information
The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on CAM and on NCCAM, including
publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The
Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to
Toll-free in the U.S.: 1-888-644-6226
Web site: www.nccam.nih.gov