Acupuncture FAQ

How does acupuncture work?

Ancient Chinese Doctors discovered that there are 12 major acupuncture channels through the body, cross-connected by 8 linking channels, all of which feed into tiny networks of branching, smaller pathways.  This is somewhat analogous to the network of freeways, highways, roads and side-streets getting us from point A to point B in modern Los Angeles.

Acupuncture channels are accessed through over 700 discrete acupoints on the body’s surface.  Each acupoint may have either broad systemic or a direct local effect.

In Ancient China the theory behind acupuncture was fundamentally based upon Qi.  Qi is a very difficult concept to describe in English, which is part of why it remains untranslated.  It can loosely be defined as “vital energy,” but more than that Qi provides the kind of divine spark which initiates life; without Qi, there is nothingness.  Qi circulates through the all of the channels and their smaller pathways, nourishing all of the organs, tissues and senses and functions of the body.

In Chinese Medical Theory Qi is formed by the interplay of Yin and Yang balance within the body.  Yin is heavier, internal, feminine and dark.  Yang is lighter, external, masculine and bright.  The harmonious transformation and coexistence of these two concepts are directly responsible for health and balance within the body, and likewise disharmony between them is thought to create the many manifestations of disease and discomfort.


How does acupuncture work from a Western bio-medical perspective?

Acupuncture treatments are meant to improve overall body function by using Traditional Chinese Medical diagnosis to bring the body into balance.

There are many theories of how this works according to a Western Medical viewpoint.  Calming or activation of the nervous system, enhancement of immune function, and stimulation of the endocrine system releasing biochemicals altering the body’s chemical balance all are likely to play a role.  This in turn stimulates organs to overcome imbalances existing in the body, overtime influencing the body’s own internal regulating systems and reducing the patient’s need for treatment.  Hormone secretion, endorphins, neurotransmitters and cells of the immune system can all be stimulated by the application of acupuncture.


How are acupuncture treatments done?

Acupuncture treatments are performed with sterile, single use medical grade stainless steel needles which are approximately 1/30 the size of the needles typically utilized in Western Medicine.  Acupuncture needles also differ from Western Medical needles in having smooth points as opposed to sharp cutting edges.  This is because Acupuncture therapy utilizes acupuncture points, which are essentially holes or hollows within the body’s surface, as opposed to Western Medicine needles which are designed to penetrate vessels and other structures.

Because of these differences in shape, size and design, most patients experience little to no pain during acupuncture treatments.  To facilitate the circulation of qi flow in some cases Acupuncturists apply a mild electrical current to some of the needles, producing a tingling sensation in order to increase stimulation of the acupoint and enhance the therapeutic effect of the treatment.


What does acupuncture feel like?

Because every person’s body condition and disease presentation is slightly different, every person will experience Acupuncture treatments uniquely.  Most patients feel no pain when the needles are inserted, many even becoming sleepy and comfortable enough to nap during their treatment.  Others may experience a small amount of discomfort upon insertion, or as the Qi flows to the needle-activated acupoint and begins balancing the flow of energy in their body.  This is actually a great reaction, signifying that the patient will likely experience successful reduction in the symptoms which led them to seek treatment.

Sensations experienced by the patient may include tingling, heaviness, warmth, coolness, numbness, or even just a “funny” feeling.  All sensations elicited via stimulation of acupoints are beneficial to the patient.


Are there any side effects?

Some patients will feel energized following treatments, while others will become more relaxed and want to sleep.  This can often depend on both the time of day and also the goal of the treatment itself.  Some patients feel somewhat disoriented afterwards, which generally passes after resting briefly.

Because treatments affect the balance of the body, some patients will experience changes in appetite, sleep, emotional state or the quality and frequency of eliminations.  All of these are normal, usually short-term, reactions, and are a clear indication that the desired treatment effect was successful.


How long will it take for acupuncture to benefit me?

Most patients experience significant relief after only a few acupuncture treatments.  Many experience relief almost immediately, especially from some acute conditions.  Treatment of chronic or complex conditions is likely to require several treatments over time before significant relief is apparent, and then following through on a regular maintenance schedule, or treatment course, in order to maintain results and cultivate a stable, healthy balance in the future.


I’m not sure I believe in acupuncture. Can it still help me?

Acupuncturists have successfully relieved symptoms in dogs, cats, horses and other animals.  These patients clearly did not “believe” in the effects of acupuncture treatment before or after their symptoms were alleviated.  Additionally, thousands of people who did not “believe” in acupuncture have experienced complete relief of their medical symptoms nonetheless.  Because Acupuncture works on your body’s autonomic system, so belief in its effectiveness is not necessary for it to produce results.


What conditions can be treated by acupuncture?

Acupuncture is generally effective in controlling and/or relieving chronic and acute types of pain as well as reducing inflammation.  It is also very effective in alleviating a variety of other conditions, promoting general health, mental wellbeing and preventing illness.  The following list of conditions improved by Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine was approved by the World Health Organization:

  • Addictions
  • Allergies
  • Ankle Swelling
  • Arm and Shoulder Pain
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Back Pain
  • Bed Wetting (Enuresis)
  • Blood Pressure High or Low
  • Bronchial Conditions
  • Bursitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Circulation, Poor
  • Colitis
  • Common Cold and Flu
  • Constipation
  • Cough, Chroni
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Diarrhea
  • Disc Problems
  • Dizziness and Vertigo
  • Emphysema
  • Face Lift
  • Fatigue, Chronic
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gall Bladder Disorders
  • Headache, Migraine etc.
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Hiccoughs
  • Hip Pain
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism
  • Immune System Deficiency
  • Indigestion
  • Infertility
  • Injuries–Auto, Home, Sports, Work
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular Menstruation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Joint Pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Leg Pain, Cramps, Tingling, Numbness
  • Liver Problems
  • Menopausal syndrome
  • Neck, Stiff, Painful
  • Nervousness
  • Neuralgia
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pleurisy
  • Pre-Menstrual Syndrome
  • Prostate Problems
  • Rheumatism
  • Sciatica
  • Shingles
  • Sinus Trouble
  • Skin Problems
  • Stomach Problems
  • Throat, Sore
  • Tumor
  • Peptic Ulcers
  • Urinary Problems