What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the practice of puncturing the skin with needles at certain anatomical points in the body to relieve specific symptoms associated with many diseases. The anatomical points (acupuncture points) are thought to have certain electrical properties, which affect chemical neurotransmitters in the body. Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical practices in the world. Originating in China more than 2,500 years ago, acupuncture gained attention in this country in the 1970s, when China and the U.S. opened relations. The practice has been growing in popularity since. Interest in the U.S. was stimulated by James Reston’s 1971 landmark article in the New York Times describing his experience with successful postappendectomy pain management using acupuncture needles. According to theories of traditional Chinese medicine, the human body has more than 2,000 acupuncture points connected via pathways or meridians. These pathways create an energy flow (Qi, pronounced “chee”) through the body that is responsible for overall health. Disruption of the energy flow can cause disease. Acupuncture may correct these imbalances when applied at acupuncture points and improve the flow of Qi. Acupuncture theories today are based on extensive laboratory research and have become widely known and accepted. In addition, controlled studies have shown evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture for certain conditions. At present in the United States, about 3,500 doctors and 11,000 to 12,000 nondoctor acupuncturists use this medical art. About 40 acupuncture schools train nondoctors and about 500 to 600 doctors, according to the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. Approximately 3.1 million American adults have used acupuncture, and the numbers are growing, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

What does acupuncture feel like?

Acupuncture is generally performed with metallic, solid, and hair-thin needles. Patients report different feelings associated with acupuncture, but most feel minimal pain as the needle is inserted. The needle is inserted to a point that produces a sensation of pressure or ache. Needles may be heated during the treatment or mild electric current may be applied to them. Acupuncture makes some people report feeling energized by the treatment, while others say they feel relaxed. The FDA regulates acupuncture needles just as it does other medical devices under good manufacturing practices and single-use standards of sterility. Instead of needles, other forms of stimulation are sometimes used, including:Heat, Pressure (acupressure), Friction, Suction, Impulses of electromagnetic energy

How does acupuncture affect the body?

Many studies have documented acupuncture’s effects on the body, but none has fully explained how acupuncture works within the framework of Western medicine. Researchers have proposed several processes to explain acupuncture’s effects, primarily on pain. In general, acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system, which, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either alter the experience of pain or release other chemicals that influence the body’s self-regulating systems. These biochemical changes may stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being. Attention has been focused on the following theories to further explain how acupuncture affects the body:

Conduction of electromagnetic signals. Evidence suggests that acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating these points enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at greater-than-normal rates. These signals may start the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, or release immune system cells to specific body sites.

Activation of the body’s natural opioid system. Considerable research supports the claim that acupuncture releases opioids, synthetic or naturally-occurring chemicals in the brain that may reduce pain or induce sleep. These chemicals may explain acupuncture’s pain-relieving effects.

Stimulation of the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. Joined at the base of the brain, the hypothalamus and pituitary glands are responsible for many body functions. The hypothalamus activates and controls part of the nervous system, the endocrine processes, and many bodily functions, such as sleep, regulation of temperature, and appetite. The pituitary gland supplies some of the body’s needed hormones. Stimulation of these glands can result in a broad spectrum of effects on various body systems.

Change in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Studies suggest that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry in a positive way. This is accomplished by changing the release of neurotransmitters (biochemical substances that stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses) and neurohormones (naturally-occurring chemical substances that can change the structure or function, or impact the activity of, a body organ).

What conditions may benefit from acupuncture?

Many Americans seek acupuncture treatment for relief of chronic pain, such as arthritis or low back pain. Acupuncture, however, has expanded uses in other parts of the world.

Conditions that may benefit from acupuncture include the following:

Digestive: Gastritis, Irritable bowel syndrome, Hepatitis, Hemorrhoids

Emotional: Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Nervousness, Neurosis

Eye-Ear-Throat: Rhinitis, Sinusitis, Pharyngitis

Gynecological: Dysmenorrhea, Amenorrhea, Cramps, Infertility

Musculoskeletal: Arthritis, Back pain, Muscle cramping, Muscle pain and weakness, Neck pain, Sciatica

Neurological: Headaches, Migraines, Neurogenic bladder dysfunction, Parkinson’s disease, Postoperative pain, Stroke

Respiratory: Allergic rhinitis, Sinusitis, Bronchitis

Miscellaneous: Irritable bladder, Prostatitis, Male infertility, Some forms of impotence, Addiction control (Credit: Johns Hopkins Medical Health Library)

Chinese medicine therapies include

Acupressure: Hands or fingers to apply direct pressure to points along the body’s meridians.
Chinese herbs: Combinations of herbs, roots, powders, or animal substances to help restore balance in the body.
Cupping:Warm air in jars are used to create suction placed on areas of the body to help stimulate qi.
Diet:Yin and yang foods can help restore the yin-yang balance in the body.
Tuina:Tuina specific areas of the body or along the body’s meridians.
Moxibustion:Moxibustion which uses small amounts of heated plant fiber (moxa, or Chinese mugwort) on specific areas of the body.
Medical Qi-gong:Qi-gong which uses movement, breathing techniques, and meditation.
Acupuncture: A technique in which very thin needles of varying lengths are inserted through the skin to treat a variety of conditions.

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Community Acupuncture:

Coming soon….

Make an appointment using our online scheduler.

Cost: $50

Community acupuncture is done in a community setting, meaning everyone is in the same room and a number of people can be needled at the same time. Usually the intake is about 10 minutes long and needles and retained for up to 25 – 30 minutes in a relaxed setting. The suggestion for most patients is to do at least one full private session with the acupuncturist once a month so we can assess your condition progress and then do community acupuncture other weekends. This ensures we can discuss diet, exercise and more specific areas related to what you might be experiencing.

Ear Acupuncture is also offered in a community setting at a reduced cost of $39.

Conditions ear acupuncture can treat include pain/stress management, weight loss, addiction, general overall health care, digestive issues, and some internal conditions. Usually ear acupuncture is done in conjunction with a regular treatment to maintain overall health. Certain protocols (including addictive behaviors such as smoking cessation, alcohol consumption, etc) are prescribed 3 times a week for 20 minutes. This is a great adjunct to other therapies an individual might be going through. Please call our clinic if you are interested in getting a treatment.

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Booking an Appointment:

Appointments with the acupuncturist can be made throughout the week. Please click on the schedule tab above and click on “Book an Appointment”. You will find my schedule here.  If you have a child, we have a waiting room that children can sit in with a joining door to the treatment room. Children can bring a book or material to play with while you get your treatment. We are a child friendly facility. We also work with insurance.