Frequently Asked Questions
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
No one really knows exactly how acupuncture works, only that it does work. Its theoretical basis, according to the Chinese, is that everyone is born with a fixed amount of energy (Qi) at birth. This energy is spent in the work of living and replenished in part by food and air. The Qi flows throughout the body in certain expected patterns along invisible pathways referred to as “meridians”. Chinese medicine is based on the discovery that certain areas (“acupoints”) on the skin are related to internal body organs and specific bodily functions. Groups of points relating to the same organ function are found along the same meridian.
In the healthy person, energy flows through the meridians freely and in abundance, resulting in a state of balance and well being. However, when this state of balance is interrupted by conditions such as stress, injury, emotional trauma or infection, the free flow of energy is interrupted, resulting in an energy deficiency, an imbalance of body energy (e.g., yin to yang) or blockages of energy along the meridians. It is thought that these patterns of disharmony in the body’s energy are at the root of illness. By locating the skin points along the meridians that relate to a certain condition, the acupuncturist can address blockages, imbalances or deficiencies in that energy meridian and insert needles at those locations. The insertion of the needles serves to unblock and stimulate energy in the meridians and allow the Qi to flow freely and sufficiently once again.
In a person whose system has become out of balance, the process of regulating the Qi is a gradual one. The treatments tend to build upon one another in a cumulative fashion, and the process may include times of progress as well as temporary setbacks. This is all a normal part of the healing cycle, as the body relearns how to function in and maintain a balanced state of energy. The time it takes to restore balance and alleviate a person’s symptoms may relate to a number of factors, including how long the symptoms have been present, other underlying health problems that complicate the treatment picture, as well as a person’s age.
In addition to its capacity to heal, 5E acupuncture is a preventative medicine and can help patients develop a stronger immune system to ward off illness and the effects of daily stress. Seasonal tune-ups are strongly recommended for all.
If you have questions relating to your specific condition, you may contact the office before making an appointment.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO RECEIVE ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT?
Acupuncture is done with extremely thin, flexible needles made of silver alloy or stainless steel. You may experience brief discomfort as the needle pierces the skin, sometimes followed by minor soreness or a drawing sensation. As the energy changes, there may be numbness, heat, dull aching or tingling. More often than not, the experience is relatively painless.
WHAT CONDITIONS ARE TREATED BY ACUPUNCTURE?
Many conditions can be treated. Among the most responsive are: musculo/skeletal problems such as sciatica, low back pain and arthritis; circulatory problems like high or low blood pressure, cold hands and feet; nervous system imbalances, especially anxiety, nervousness, sleeplessness or depression; asthma, allergies and sinus problems; and digestive disorders including Crohn’s Disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, diarrhea and constipation. In addition, we often treat headaches, vertigo, sports and stress injuries, skin problems, immune system disorders, fatigue, chronic pain and side effects from chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Acupuncture has been found to be especially useful for detoxification from addictive substances such as drugs, alcohol, caffeine, cocaine, heroin and cigarettes.
Systems listed below are often addressed at our clinic:
CIRCULATORY PROBLEMS: High or low blood pressure, Cold hands and feet
DIGESTIVE: Abdominal pain, Gastric hyperactivity, Diarrhea, Indigestion, Constipation, Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis
EMOTIONAL IMBALANCES: Insomnia, Depression, Anxiety, Nervousness, Stress reduction, Addiction detoxification (including cigarette smoking)
EYE EAR NOSE THROAT: Poor vision, Hoarseness, Tinnitus, Toothache, Gingivitis, Sinusitis, Sore throat
GYNECOLOGICAL: PMS, Irregular or heavy periods, Menstrual cramps, Cysts, Fibroids, Endometriosis, Infertility, Menopause
GENITO-URINARY: Incontinence, Impotence, Urinary Tract Infection, Prostatitis
MUSCULOSKELETAL: Muscle pain/weakness, Sciatica, Back and neck pain, Muscle cramping, Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Repetitive strain injury, Fibromyalgia
NEUROLOGICAL: Migraines, Headaches, Postoperative pain, Stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Vertigo, Neuropathy
RESPIRATORY: Allergies, Sinusitis, Common cold, Bronchitis, Asthma, Tonsillitis, Cough
MISCELLANEOUS: General malaise, Immune system disorders including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, HIV infection, Hepatitis, Shingles, Chronic pain, Side effects from chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, Sports injuries, Skin problems, Athletic performance, Healthy aging
HOW DOES CHINESE MEDICINE DIFFER FROM WESTERN MEDICINE?
Chinese Medicine concentrates on the normalization of the body’s Qi. Therefore, the therapeutic focus is on “wellness”. It is traditionally applied to keep the individual healthy. If there are changes of body energy which adversely affect a person’s health, the treatment consists of correcting underlying imbalances in this body energy. The goal of Chinese Medicine is to address the underlying energy imbalance that results in the symptoms. A wide variety of symptoms can be addressed by this energy restoration. In contrast, Western Medicine is focused on the diagnoses and treatment of disease. Traditionally Western medicine has had little interest in preventive health issues (a situation finally changing now). Western Medicine focuses on the diagnosis of the disease causing a patient’s physical complaint and the alleviation the symptoms of the disease. Treatment, usually the prescribing of medication or some type of surgical procedure, and is specific to only one problem.
CAN WESTERN AND CHINESE MEDICINE BE COMBINED?
Yes. Modern medical wisdom seems to suggest that we combine what is useful from each source. Indeed, this is the case in China today. In medical schools in China the students learn 60% Chinese and 40% Western medicine and can apply both after training. Because Chinese medicine addresses the underlying cause of a condition rather than just the symptoms, it is often helpful to treat conditions generally unresponsive to western drug-oriented treatment. Examples include PMS, headache, vertigo, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, etc. Conversely, some conditions, most notably bacterial infections and conditions with structural changes, e.g., fractures or tumors, respond more rapidly to Western techniques. Very frequently the two methodologies can be combined to the patient’s greater benefit. Here are some examples: In the treatment of high blood pressure, acupuncture and herbs, along with dietary salt-restriction, can decrease the amount of anti-hypertensive medication required for blood pressure control. This approach also works for respiratory conditions like asthma in which the Chinese medicine allows the patient to decrease dependence on steroidal inhalers. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are used successfully to offset some of the side-effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, fatigue and a weakened immune system, during the treatment of cancer or AIDS.
In summary, a pragmatic, broad-based approach that acknowledges the strength of each kind of medicine, such as we practice at Stillpoint, allows for the choice of the best treatment options for each individual patient.