What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is far more than a technique of inserting tiny thread-like needles along meridian (energy channels of the body), Acupuncture is a complex system of diagnosis that views the person as a whole. Acupuncture is practiced based on discerning the “pattern of disharmony” and treating accordingly. Modern acupuncturist utilizes other modalities such as herbal medicine, Moxibustion, physical exercise, nutrition, meditation, breathing exercise and more. Acupuncture is the insertion of hair-fine needles into the skin and body tissues. They are inserted into any one or more of a number of acupuncture points (there are over 350 acupuncture points in the human body) for the purpose of stimulating a physiological response. The response solicited by the acupuncture point treatment is focused on balancing the body’s systems which will in turn aid the body in functioning properly. Acupuncture does not hurt, The sensation created by the insertion of each needle should only be one of heaviness. Often this heaviness may be felt over regions of the body which are connected to each other by what we refer to as Meridians. These are the “roadways” through which your body’s energy flows. Acupuncture is a primary health care modality that has been around for at least 2000 years and is used widely throughout the world. Acupuncture is considered safe and effective

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture is a therapy that uses the insertion of tiny thread-like needles to specific points on the body along meridians (energy channels of the body). that cross the body. As long as the energy flows freely through these pathways, health is maintained. When the flow of energy is disturbed for any reason, there is disruption in health, resulting in pain or illness. By stimulating appropriate acupuncture points along these meridians, the energy is regulated, and health is restored.

What Should You Expect During Treatment?

Most patients find the treatment very relaxing, Most are surprised to find how comfortable they are during an acupuncture treatment and how easily and painlessly the needles are inserted. Some patients even go to sleep during treatment. A patient may feel a sensation upon insertion and pressure or a “dull” reaction when the needle reaches the correct depth of the point. The needles are far different (smaller and thinner) from hypodermic needles.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

One of the great advantages of acupuncture is the absence of side effects. Needles generally cause no bleeding or pain, and most practitioners today use the disposable kind. There is minimal risk of organ penetration. Acupuncturists are trained in exact location, angle as well as depth of insertion of the acupuncture needle to avoid any injuries.

How Many Treatments Are Necessary?

No two conditions or people respond exactly the same. The length of treatment depends on the condition, the severity, and the duration of the condition. For example, if you awoke this morning with a sore throat, fever, and body aches vs. you have been suffering from arthritis for the last ten years and you are twenty pounds over weight. The physical and emotional state of the patient is also important, as well as the compliance with your doctor instruction and recommendations.

Chinese Herbology

Chinese herbology is a system of herbal treatment, it is not applied in the way that most herbs and medicines are used in our Western world. For example, all medicines (including herbal medicines) under western schools of thought are used because they are known to produce certain effects. St. John’s Wort and Prozac are used for depression because they are both known to counter depression in the human body. Chinese Herbal Medicine was developed as an integral part of Chinese Medicine. It is used to re-harmonize imbalances in the body. Therefore, a cough would not be treated by choosing an anti-tussive alone. It must first be determined where the cough is coming from, and then the appropriate group of herbs would be combined to treat the problem.

How do I know which Chinese Herbs are good for me?

If you are considering taking Chinese herbs, you should consult a Licensed Acupuncturists who specializes in Chinese Herbology. This is a very important step as the practice of Chinese Herbal Medicine is a complex system which is dependent on the knowledge and experience of a skilled practitioner.

Chinese formulas are comprised of herbs designed for each individual patient. This special formulation is crucial because these formulas must be delicately composed for the purpose of achieving balance in each disharmonious state of being. Any deviation in dosage or herb composition can change the entire focus of the formula and therefore, the results.

In what form do Chinese Herbs come?

Chinese herbs may be taken in any of the following forms:

Raw Formulas
A raw formula consists of carefully individually weighed unprocessed herbs placed together in individual bags. One bag is boiled for either one or two days. These formulas are best boiled in a clay herb pot which assists in even cooking and the the preservation of the medicinal properties of each herb formula. There are different cooking instructions for different formulas, so you should consult your doctor on your specific cooking instructions.

Patent Medicine
This term is used for famous formulas used for generations for common illnesses. They are tiny herbal pellets which are taken tow to three times daily. A standard dose may be as high as 8-10 pills three times per day. The reason for this is because these pills are so tiny. Taking herbs in this form is sometimes more practical for the patient who does not have as much time. However, they are pre formulated based on a specific problem. If your problem does not fit the specific indication, your practitioner may choose to give you a raw or powdered formula.

Freeze Dried or Freeze Dried Pills
These are raw formulas cooked and freeze dried. The benefit of using this method is the same as the raw formula itself less the cooking time involved. However, as effective as these formulas are, raw formulas are still the strongest method for taking Chinese herbs.

Tinctures are available in pre-packaged form and on special order. This method is comparable to the freeze-dried method.

Topical Liquids and Creams
There are numerous topical creams and liquids for many different medicinal uses such as athlete’s foot, burns, hemorrhoids, bleeding, and bone problems to name a few. These are highly effective when used under the appropriate circumstances.

Are Chinese Herbs good for everyone?

There is never one answer for every problem. Oriental Medicine is based on the foundation of this philosophy. A person’s underlying condition must be taken into account in the treatment of his or her problem. With all of the attention that herbal medicine is receiving these days, the impression is given that if you hear that an herb is good for a certain problem then it must be good for everyone for that problem! THIS IS NOT TRUE! A single herb is almost never prescribed for any patient within the scope of Chinese Herbal Medicine. Formulas must always be delicately composed to protect the patient’s constitution against the possible unwanted effects of the herbs he or she needs to take. This is the way side effects are avoided and higher results are achieved.

Can I take Chinese herbs with my regular medication?

Your healthcare. provider should be aware of all medications, vitamins, herbs, and recreational drugs you are taking. Combining any of these substances may or may not be a good idea. It is important to rely on the advice of your healthcare. provider.

Is taking daily vitamins which contain Chinese Herbs a good idea?

Vitamins often contain Chinese Herbs. As we stated above, one herbs or one group of herbs is never good for all people. Using vitamins which contain herbs is not a good idea in our opinion unless you have been advised by your healthcare. provider to do so. A good example of this are diet product which contain vitamins and mineral designed to burn fat. These products very often contain a Chinese Herb, Ephedra (Ma Huang). This herb has been shown to stimulate the metabolism. However, in Chinese Medicine it is used as an acute anti-asthmatic for immediate treatment only. If this herbs is used long-term it can have damaging effects on the body’s state of health and if taken in a high enough dose, it could stimulate the body so much, it could possibly produce a heart attack. This is a very clear example of a good thing which can potentially save a life being used for an incorrect set of circumstances creating the potential for taking a life. This is why Chinese Herbal Medicine needs to stay in the hands of the professionals who have been trained to use it. Another example is Ginseng. Everyone knows what this is. The problem is everyone THINKS they know what it is good for! The media describes it as something which is good for your immune system, something which is good for energy. While this is true, if we understand Oriental Medicine, then again we know that what is good for one is not good for all. Ginseng in the wrong hands or taken long term can actually produce extreme lethargy and fatigue! This is the important part of the message that is not being communicated to the public.

Who Practices Chinese Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture?

In the United states, the requirements vary from State to State. Most states require 60 semesters units of undergraduate work prior to a four year acupuncture program.

Licensed Acupuncturists in the State of California (L.Ac.) have passed the minimum educational and board testing requirements necessary to practice Chinese Herbal Medicine. There is an additional test which may be taken by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). There are two parts to this certification. The first is the acupuncture portion (Dipl.Ac.) and the second is the Chinese Herbal Medicine portion (Dipl. C.H.). These credentials also indicate that the National standards for Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology have been achieved. Health care providers without an education and licensing in Oriental Medicine are not necessarily qualified to practice Chinese Herbology or may be practicing herbal medicine from a different viewpoint. The requirements vary from state to state, the following is an explanation of credentials.

  • C.A. Certified Acupuncturist
  • L.Ac. Licensed Acupuncturist
  • D.O.M. Doctor of Oriental Medicine
  • D.A. Doctor Of Acupuncture
  • Dipl. Ac. Diplomat of Acupuncture (NCCAOM) A National Certification required by 37 States.
  • Dipl. C.H. Diplomat in Chinese Herbology (NCCAOM) A National Achievement Certification not required at present.

Is acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine appropriate for my condition?

Because traditional Chinese medicine is a complete medical system in its own right, it can address most health conditions.  Dr. Li makes himself available for a complementary 20 minute phone consultation, or he can be reached via email.  Feel free to discuss your health concern and see if acupuncture and Chinese medicine is appropriate for your condition.

What is the difference between acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine?

Although many people make the assumption that acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are one and in the same, acupuncture is simply one of a number of effective tools used by a Chinese medicine practitioner to strengthen and heal the body, mind and spirit.

Does acupuncture hurt?

It is understandable to be apprehensive about the insertion of needles.  Acupuncture needles cause minimal to no pain.  They are very different than the hypodermic needles used at the doctor’s office to vaccinate or draw blood.  Acupuncture needles are hair-thin, sterile and disposable.  After insertion, patients often report sensations of tingling, warmth, or heaviness but rarely pain.  Many patients report feeling a sense of deep relaxation or increased energy after a treatment.  Sometimes the therapeutic changes are not felt until hours or days after a treatment.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is extremely safe when administered by a qualified and licensed professional. In fact, when practiced correctly, acupuncture is associated with no side-effects nor iatrogenic (doctor-caused) diseases.  Thin, sterile needles are used and disposed of after each use so there is minimal to no risk of infection.  Considering the millions of people who are treated with acupuncture each year and the large number of acupuncture needles used, very few complications have been reported to the FDA.

What should I expect during my first visit?

It is best to arrive 10-15 minutes early to your first appointment so that you can fill out the necessary paperwork before beginning your session.  The first treatment lasts ninety minutes to two hours. The session begins with a discussion of your chief complaint and a comprehensive health history.  This is followed by a physical exam consisting of tongue examination, pulse examination, meridian and/or abdominal palpation.  After a diagnosis and treatment plan are established, acupuncture and/or medical massage is administered.  If necessary, an herbal formula is prescribed.

What is a typical acupuncture treatment like?

After a thorough inquiry into the health concern and a physical examination, the patient rests on a massage table and approximately 1-16 sterile, disposable needles are inserted into different points on the body, depending on the condition.  Needles are usually inserted in the extremities of the body as these often have a very strong therapeutic effect.  The patient rests with inserted needles for 20-30 minutes in order to allow the treatment to take effect.  Certain conditions may call for other Chinese medical techniques such as tuina (Chinese medical massage), moxibustion (heat therapy), cupping and/or guasha (impurity releasing therapies).

What is a normal course of treatment?

The number of treatments varies depending on the severity and duration of the condition as well as the strength and constitution of the patient.  In general, acute conditions may take just a few treatments while chronic conditions may take longer to treat.  Most patients, however, report feeling changes immediately after one acupuncture treatment.  Weekly treatments are advised although some acute cases may require 2-3 treatments a week at the beginning of a course of treatment.

Acupuncture has a cumulative effect. Once symptoms improve and overall harmony and balance are reached, treatments are reduced to once every other week and eventually once a month or less to maintain health and prevent reoccurrence.  After the completion of your first visit, the recommended length of treatment will be discussed with you.

Can Chinese medicine be used in conjunction with western medicine?

Absolutely. While Chinese medicine is a comprehensive medical system that can address many health concerns on its own, it can also work synergistically with western medicine and other modalities of healthcare.  Doctor Li works collaboratively with many of his patients’ other healthcare providers.

Is herbal medicine safe?

Chinese herbal medicine is very safe and virtually free of side-effect when prescribed by a well-trained professional.  Western pharmaceutical drugs can be fast-acting but sometimes exact a toll.  Pharmaceuticals often have side effects that can throw off the internal balance of the body.  Western drugs can cause other health problems like weight gain, temperature fluctuation, mood changes, dry mouth, nausea, loss of appetite, pain, headaches, body twitching, decreased libido, etc.  Because Chinese herbal medicine is usually prescribed as a combination of multiple herbs called a ‘formula’, each herb is specifically chosen to bolster each other’s effects or counteract possible side effects.  Formulas can therefore have strong therapeutic effects without disrupting the body’s balance or creating other health problems.  Formulas also allow for various symptoms to be treated at once.  Specific herbs are often added to the formula to aid in digestion so that the medicine can be assimilated efficiently.  In general, traditional Chinese herbs have much lower toxicity than many Western pharmaceutical drugs.

How are Chinese herbs administered?

Chinese herbal medicine can be taken internally as a tea, powder, tincture or pill and externally as an ointment, lotion, wash or poultice.  The classical administration of Chinese herbs is as a tea.  With this method, each bag of dried herbs last 1-2 days and is boiled, strained and the liquid divided into 2-3 portions for daily ingestion.  Tea is a very effective means of administration because it can be readily and efficiently assimilated into the body.  At times, other methods of ingestion are more appropriate and you will be advised in these circumstances.

How does practicing qi gong differ from going to the gym?

In Chinese medicine and martial arts, qi gong is considered a ‘soft’ exercise.  While there are ‘hard’ exercises like running, swimming, or biking, which raise your heart rate and develop muscle, these exercises can deplete valuable energy sources if pushed too hard.  Qi gong is meant to build and reserve energy rather than expend it.  Well-trained martial artists know that both hard and soft exercises are equally important to building strength and endurance.  Qi gong can be practiced on its own for health maintenance as well as be a compliment to your regular exercise routine.  For many athletes, qi gong can be the key to getting the most out of their training.  If appropriate, Sharon can teach you simple qi gong exercises that can assist in your wellness and recovery.

Do you accept insurance?

Healing Treasure can issue you a bill with appropriate diagnostic coding which can be submitted to your insurance company for reimbursement.  If acupuncture is covered by your plan, we can communicate directly with your insurance company.  Please check with your health insurance company for coverage details.




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