How does acupuncture work and what conditions does it treat?
Acupuncture works in a number of ways to rehabilitate the body. Acupuncture works by:
Regulating your nervous system, releasing endorphins and therefore relieving:
• Acute and chronic pain anywhere on the body
• Stress, anxiety and insomnia
• Allergy symptoms - including cedar fever, a common allergic reaction in Austin and the Central Texas region
Regulating your hormones to relieve:
• Hot flashes and discomfort from menopause
• Female and Male infertility
• Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), and irregular or heavy periods
Promoting healthful circulation and consequently decreasing:
• Headaches and migraines
• High blood pressure
• Discomfort from numbness
• Pain from osteoarthritis
What does acupuncture feel like?
We use thinly gauged Japanese needles designed to be as small as your skin pores. Sometimes you may feel a pinch or a dull distending sensation. Patients are often surprised that a needle even went in because they didn't feel anything. One of the body's responses to acupuncture is to release endorphines, your body's natural pain killer. For this reason patients become very relaxed during and after a treatment.
How long is a course of treatment?
Because each patient is unique, a course of treatments can range from two to fifteen sessions. Most patients who come into my office start with four weekly sessions. At that point and we can begin to gauge how quickly your body is responding to the treatments and get a better idea of how many more will be needed.
How often do I need to come in?
This depends on the severity of the problem. Normally patients receive treatments on a weekly basis, sometimes twice weekly in acute cases. As the patient's health improves they can come in less frequently. We assess how treatments are going on a regular basis to track the patient's progress and adjust the timing accordingly.
Is there anything else that I need to know before coming in for my first visit?
Wear loose comfortable clothing. If you skipped a meal, try to have a snack before receiving treatment.
More on Acupuncture: (from an earlier article on my previous website)
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient method of health care that has been practiced throughout Asia for many centuries. It originated in China at least 2,500 years ago. Acupuncture has been gaining in popularity in the Western Hemisphere since the 1970's. It works by using the insertion of very fine needles to manipulate the flow of qi in the body. Qi is the life force or energy that is present in all living things.
Acupuncture theory suggests that there are 12 main meridians in the body through which Qi flows. These meridians correspond to the major internal organs of the body. For instance, there is a liver meridian, a heart meridian, and so on. In each of these meridians, the Qi can become stagnant or deficient. Stagnant Qi means that there is a blockage or excess of energy, which can cause a variety of symptoms including pain, inflammation, headaches, high blood pressure, depression, and menstrual imbalances. Deficient Qi means that there isn't enough functional energy within a given organ to perform its necessary duties. For instance, chronic diarrhea and fatigue can easily be caused by deficient Qi of the spleen.
Acupuncture therapy typically involves inserting needles into several acupoints, which are specific locations on the meridians where Qi is said to gather. By manipulating the flow of Qi on a given meridian, stagnant Qi can be dispersed and deficient Qi can be tonified. As a result, the symptoms that correspond to these underlying energetic imbalances should naturally improve. There are 365 acupoints on the 12 meridians, along with numerous 'extra points' that are located throughout the body. There are also microsystems such as the ear, eye, nose, and hand. Some acupuncturists will only use these specific areas regardless of the nature of the patient's complaints.
From a Western biomedical perspective, acupuncture has been proven to release the neurotransmitter serotonin and beta-endorphins, opiate-like substances made by the brain. Serotonin balance is essential for emotional and mental health and has been linked to healthy eating patterns, sleeping patterns, and the degree of pain in the body. Beta-endorphins are analgesic and anti-inflammatory and are responsible for the 'runner's high', which is why acupuncture can induce similar sensations.
Does acupuncture hurt? What if I don't want needles?
Acupuncture should be a relatively pain-free experience. There are times where the initial insertion will be felt by the patient, but there is never an occasion where the patient should be in pain through the duration of the treatment. Acupuncture can cause dull achiness, heaviness, tingling, heat, and increased sensation around the area needled. Almost always, these sensations are accompanied by a deep quality of relaxation and tranquility. Acupuncture should be a relaxing experience. In fact, this is one of its therapeutic benefits. I have had many patients who felt so relaxed after treatment that they had to drink some water and 'get their bearings' before they were permitted to leave my office. This deep relaxation tends to stay with the patient longer through successive treatments. I look for this as a measurable sign of progress. If the patient seriously objects to needles, there are many alternatives that I can employ. I will use acupressure, nutrition, herbal medicine, as back-up options. These therapies are often sufficiently powerful to replace the acupuncture. Many patients feel an initial apprehension, but are pleasantly surprised by how little they feel upon needle insertion.
What should I look for in an acupuncturist?
The most important factor in selecting your acupuncturist is your own personal comfort with them upon meeting them. Additionally It would be good to consider how extensive their experience is in treating your condition and your practitioner should have a deep commitment to continued education and practice. I first began treating patients during my internship in 2001 and have been a licensed acupuncturist since 2004. During that time I've helped hundreds of patients on their paths to health and vitality. Some of my experience includes working in clinical environments in Beijing China, Fontainebleau, France, Twin Cranes reproductive Acupuncture Clinic, Longmont United Hospital's Oncology clinic, and Pflugerville Wellness Center.
What does a treatment plan entail?
Most patients that come to me for chronic health problems plan on committing to treatment once a week for 4-6 treatments. After these initial visits, we will assess for progress and discuss where to go from there. Within that period of time, I expect that their symptoms are showing signs of definite improvement and that their general health is better. If someone has extremely chronic and severe symptoms, it is not uncommon for me to see them weekly for 10 visits. I encourage the body to heal over a period of time, as excessively rapid progress can put the body into a state of shock. If something has accumulated over a period of years, it is only natural that it will take some time to unravel the condition and heal it at its foundation. While no therapy can help everyone, my clinical experience has been that approximately 80% of my patients undergo noticeably positive changes through their course of treatment. Compliancy is an important factor in treatment progress. Generally, patients that commit to lifestyle suggestions will progress more rapidly.
What can acupuncture treat?
In my clinical practice, I have had great success in treating a variety of health concerns:
Anxiety and Depression: While I don't claim to be a specialist in any one area, I have helped many people with anxiety and depression. I enjoy working with this population because many people with anxiety or depression simply aren't aware that there are alternatives to drugs and talk therapy. Nutrition, exercise, mindfulness techniques, acupuncture, and herbs can offer an incredible support system for healing these conditions.
Gynecological issues: I have helped many women with PMS, menstrual cramps, irregular cycles, infertility, and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Pain: Many people decrease their pain and even manage to erase their headaches, back pain, neck pain, sprains, strains with the use of Acupuncture and other meridian therapies.
Constipation/diarrhea/irritable bowel syndrome: Acupuncture and herbs can work miracles for people suffering with these symptoms.
Insomnia: Acupuncture alone can be very effective. With herbs and stress reduction techniques, the healing process is even more powerful.
Other symptoms/disorders that have I have successfully treated with acupuncture:
• Colds and flu's
• Meniere's disease and other kinds dizzy spells
• Trigeminal Neuralgia
• Type 2 Diabetes