I get a lot of great questions about acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), but these are probably the four most common questions I receive from patients and physicians. Even though acupuncture is but one treatment modality within the system of TCM, it’s the one that peaks people’s curiosity the most. During an acupuncture session, needles are inserted into the body at specific locations to produce specific results like reducing pain, regulating menstrual periods or hormones, or resolving digestive upset.
1. Does it work?
Heck Yea! Acupuncture works! But the question is how, right?
Chinese Medicine Perspective:
Western Medicine Perspective:
2. Does it hurt?
This is the winner for the most commonly asked question and for the needle-phobic client, it is always the first question they ask. Acupuncture does not hurt when performed by an experienced and skillful acupuncturist. For those who dislike getting their blood drawn or any type of injection, have no fear; acupuncture is not a medical injection or a “shot”. A medical injection or “shot” uses larger, hollow needles that inject liquid into the body. In acupuncture, very fine, sterile, solid needles about the thickness of a hair (0.16mm-0.25mm) are used. Acupuncture is generally painless but painless doesn't mean no sensation will be felt. There can sometimes be minor discomfort or pinching on sensitive areas like the hands or feet. That being said, there are many techniques your acupuncturist can use to minimize any negative sensations. The sensations you should feel are warm, tingly, heavy or slightly achy. You’re acupuncture never wants you to feel sharp or electric sensations that last for more than a second or two. If this happens, (or if you ever feel any discomfort) don’t hesitate to tell your acupuncturist. Not only can they make adjustments to fix the problem but there are other treatment methods that can be applied that do not involve needles.
3. Is it safe?
Acupuncture is safe and has very minimal side effects when practiced by a trained professional. No need to worry about cross contamination or infection because all needles are sterile and only used once. Two surveys conducted independently of each other and published in the British Medical Journal in 2001 concluded that the risk of a serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000. This is far less than many orthodox medical treatments. A total of 66,000 treatments were reviewed altogether, with only a handful of minor and transient side effects recorded. A 2003 survey of 6,000 patients of acupuncture produced almost identical figures. Any minor side effects that did occur, such as dizziness or bruising around needle points, are mild and self-correcting.
4. What are your qualifications?
Part of me wishes that I could say I traveled to China and after hiking up a tall mountain for many days, I met and trained with an acupuncture master in for a few years but alas, in truth I took a more studious path. I received my undergrad degree in psychology with a minor in biology from California State University, Northridge. I completed my Master of Science degree at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in 2012, and I am licensed by the California State Board and a certified Diplomate of Oriental Medicine by NCCAOM. I am currently registered with New Zealand Acupuncture Standards Authority and a ACC practitioner. I have approximately 4,000 hours of formalized education and over 2000 clinical hours in Traditional Chinese Medicine that has included courses in Western sciences, Eastern and Western nutrition, Chinese herbology, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and disease diagnosis, and Acupuncture meridian and point theory. I am continually expanding my knowledge through continuing education courses in Japanese acupuncture and kampo, and Master Tung and Master Tan meridian therapies.
I have also been very fortunate to be a part of some amazing programs in the fields I specialize in, mental health and immunology, though Owen HIV/AIDS Clinic and Hospice Center in San Diego, Mental Health Community Action Network and Homeless Project Connect in Santa Cruz.
Soap Box Time: My current endeavor is to bring and promote community acupuncture in New Zealand. In the US and UK community clinics have quite a strong following which is why I was surprised to find that there are almost no community support clinics or community acupuncture clinics in Wellington. I hope to change that. It’s my aim is to make acupuncture accessible to everyone. Even when acupuncture is low cost and low frills it is still just as effective. I’ve begun working with Mansfield House, a Maori support home for sufferers of mental illnesses in Newtown, by providing weekly community-style acupuncture for mental health and sobriety support for the clients that live there.
Check out the community acupuncture section of my website for more information or don’t hesitate to email me with any questions.