Acupuncture's Frequently Asked Questions
What are acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine?
Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and improve function. This is done by inserting sterilized, stainless-steel needles (fine as a human hair) into specific points located near or on the surface of the skin which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to treat a wide variety of illnesses.
Traditional Chinese medicine views a person as an energy system in which body and mind are unified, each influencing and balancing the other. Unlike Western medicine, which attempts to isolate and separate a disease from a person, Chinese Medicine emphasizes a holistic approach that treats the whole person.
Your acupuncture practitioner will make a Chinese medical diagnosis based upon a thorough examination and consultation. The examination includes the assessment of the pulse and tongue. Once a diagnosis is made, your acupuncturist will choose the most appropriate acupuncture points for treatment.
What is Qi in acupuncture?
The acupuncture term Qi (pronounced "chee") can be defined as the force or vital substance that animates and controls the observable functions of living beings. The basic foundation for Asian medicine is that this vital substance flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.
The basis of acupuncture is expressed in this famous Chinese saying: "Bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong" which means "free flow: no pain, no free flow: pain."
In other words, any kind of pain or illness represents an obstruction in the normal flow of Qi or life force. Simply put, acupuncture moves Qi, restoring free flow.
Acupuncture points are areas of designated electrical sensitivity that have been shown to be effective in the treatment of specific health problems. They have been mapped out by the Chinese over a period of over 2000 years.
How does acupuncture work?
The Eastern explanation for how acupuncture works is that the life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee) can be influenced and balanced by stimulating specific points on the body. These points are located along channels of energy known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.
Definition of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points located near or on the surface of the skin which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve the desired effect.
Explanation of How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture points are areas of designated electrical sensitivity. Inserting needles at these points stimulates various sensory receptors that, in turn, stimulate nerves that transmit impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system at the base of the brain.
The hypothalamus-pituitary glands are responsible for releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins, the body's natural pain-killing hormones. It is estimated that endorphins are 200 times more potent than morphine. Endorphins also play a big role in the functioning of the hormonal system. This is why acupuncture works well for back pain and arthritis and also for P.M.S. and infertility.
The substances released as a result of acupuncture not only relax the whole body, they regulate serotonin in the brain which plays a role in human and animal disposition. This is why depression is often treated with acupuncture.
Some of the physiological effects observed throughout the body include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, relief from pain, relief of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count which stimulates the immune system.
What can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are extremely successful in the treatment of a multitude of conditions. Many people try acupuncture and oriental medicine as a "last resort" to serious and complex medical problems and find that it can help them when other treatments could not.
Acupuncture is also often used as a preventative medicine. Many people see their acupuncturist only 2-4 times a year for a "tune up" or "balancing" treatment. This can prevent disease and promote health, energy and vitality.
Your acupuncturist will have to look at the onset of your condition and see what your constitutional diagnosis is to determine if Oriental Medicine can help you. Each case is unique and it would be difficult to determine how effective acupuncture will be for you without a full assessment. Please contact several licensed acupuncturists in your area for a consultation to find the best suited practitioner for you.
What problems are commonly treated with acupuncture?
The most common ailments presented to an acupuncturist tend to be pain related conditions. For example; arthritis, back, neck, knee and shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica.
Traditional Chinese medicine is a complete medical system that is capable of diagnosing and successfully treating a wide range of conditions including:
- Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat Disorders
- Sore Throat
- Hay Fever
- Nerve Deafness
- Ringing in the Ears
- Poor Eyesight
- Circulatory Disorders
- High Blood Pressure
- Angina Pectoris
- Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Spastic colon
- Food Allergies
- Abdominal Bloating
- Gynecological/Genitourinary Disorders
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Irregular/Heavy/Painful Menstruation
- Chronic Bladder Infection
- Complications in Pregnancy
- Morning Sickness
- Kidney Stones
- Infertility in Men and Women
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Immune Disorders
- Chronic Fatigue
- HIV and AIDS
- Epstein Barr Virus
- Smoking Cessation
- Emotional and Psychological Disorders
- Musculoskeletal & Neurological Disorders
- Back Pain
- Stiff Neck
- Bell's Palsy
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Headaches and Migraines
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscle Spasms
- Respiratory Disorders
- Colds and Flus
- Chemotherapy/Radiation Side Effects
- Dermatological Disorders
- Weight Control
(This is by no means a complete list of what acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine can treat.)
How many acupuncture treatments will I need?
Acupuncture, by its very nature, is a stimulus-response type of medicine. We stimulate your body with acupuncture needles and we are looking for a desired response from the body. Because each person will respond to acupuncture at their own unique pace, the number and frequency of acupuncture treatments needed will vary from person to person.
The nature of the health issue can also affect the number of acupuncture treatments needed. For example, at Nakamura Acupuncture, we have successfully relieved symptoms of Bells Palsy in three treatment sessions or less for cases where onset of symptoms was within a week. For cases where a person has been suffering with Bells Palsy for more than 6 months, no case was ever fully resolved in less than six treatment sessions.
For a more accurate estimate of how many acupuncture treatments you may need, please contact our office to schedule a complimentary consultation.
How long will it take for the acupuncture treatments to work?
At Nakamura Acupuncture, our goal is to have you experience a positive response to acupuncture treatment from the very first session. Of course, we cannot promise that you will see some improvement from your first treatment session here but we are very confident in our ability to produce positive results quickly.
How often should I be treated with acupuncture?
In general, we will ask for a minimum frequency of one acupuncture treatment session per week to resolve your health issue. The maximum frequency is usually no more than two treatment sessions per week.
Does acupuncture hurt?
At Nakamura Acupuncture, we do our very best to provide as comfortable of an acupuncture treatment experience as possible. We have six different sizes (in terms of diameter or how thick the acupuncture needle is) that we work with in our office. If our thinnest needle is a #1 and our thickest needle is a #6, our #5 needle is equal to the thickest human head hair at 0.25mm in diameter or 32 gauge. It's not too often that we need to use a #6 acupuncture needle, so most of the time we are using acupuncture needles that are the same thickness of a head hair or thinner. Even when we do need to use a #6, it's only 0.05mm thicker than the thickest human head hair.
The reference point we like to use is the brief discomfort associated with removing a hair from your eyebrow, chin, or head. When the acupuncture needle first breaks the skin, our goal is to have you experience as mild of a pinch or sharp (or nothing at all) and have it be easier than plucking a hair.
Whether you are new to acupuncture or a veteran, we want your feedback during the treatment. We are very responsive and will strive to make your acupuncture experience easy, relaxing, and effective.
How deeply are acupuncture needles inserted?
Insertion depth is dependent on which part of the body is being treated. Joints like the wrist, elbow, or ankle have very little space to insert acupuncture needles, so typical insertion depths range between just breaking the skin to about 1/4~3/8 inch. For back pain, the back muscles are quite a bit larger and can easily accomodate insertion depths of 1~1.5 inches. Please remember that most of the time we are using acupuncture needles as thick as your head hair or thinner. Outside of the mild pinch or sharp you may feel when the acupuncture needle first breaks the skin, our goal is for you to not feel any sharp or other sensation of discomfort while the needle is being inserted.
My wife and I have been married for over 6 years. Our form of birth control has been Natural Family Planning since we were married, so she was never on any pills or medication for birth control and she has a very regular menstrual cycle. We started trying to have children three years into marriage and tried for three years. We went to the doctors a couple of times, and they would just tell us that it can take awhile and offered to do some very expensive tests (and of course, they pushed for "in vitro" or some other infertility alternatives, which we didn't feel comfortable with).
My mom had recommended acupuncture, since it helped so much with her headaches. We decided to give it a try and after meeting a couple of acupuncturists that we didn't like nor feel like they truly cared about us as a couple, my wife heard about Hiro Nakamura on the Fish radio station. We called him up and initially on the phone, he spent about 30 minutes explaining what acupuncture is about and what he would do for us and how it all works. We felt so comfortable with him and the fact that he spent 30 minutes FOR FREE with us on the phone was amazing. Especially when we had some acupuncturists that wouldn't give us the time of day and for their initial consultation, they charged $250. Then we asked Hiro how much his consultation was and he said free, with an attitude of why would I make you pay just to see if this is something that you want to do or not! So great!!!
We went in for the consultation and got all of our questions answered. He was so patient, knowledgeable, and caring. He truly cared about us as a couple and looked at our case specifically and didn't just treat us generically. The other acupuncturists we met with gave the "plan" as far as how many sessions, how often, which herbs, etc. And there was no veering from that. Everyone was treated the same, and it didn't matter if yours was a different case! So weird and not comforting to us at all! Hiro asked lots of questions that were important to our situation (and which other acupuncturists had failed to ask). He was so positive and really lifted our spirits as we were pretty down about having kids since we had tried for 3 years already. In fact, in one of our first sessions, he asked if we wanted a boy or a girl - that's how confident he was about us being able to have children, and that was so encouraging!
My wife started acupuncture, and within the first month, she got pregnant! After about three weeks, we lost the baby, but for us, that was hope. We had never gotten pregnant before! Hiro was so positive - for him, that meant, ok, there's no problem in her getting pregnant, but now we just need to alter things so that she is more healthy and can keep the baby. Hiro also gave her different herbs and would explain what they were and why he felt is was necessary for her to take them, but he never PUSHED anything to where we felt like he just wanted the money.
Hiro worked with our schedule, he also spent time answering any questions, and he worked with us on the payments. For him and his practice, he is not all about the money (as is very common today); he truly cares about his patients, which is hard to find these days!! By the third month of acupuncture, my wife was pregnant again, and we are now 33 weeks along in our pregnancy!! We are so excited to be parents and so grateful for Hiro's expertise and care! He continues to keep in touch and see how we and the baby are doing during the pregnancy, and we feel so encouraged by his support. He is a great person and does his job as an acupuncturist very well. We would HIGHLY recommend him to anyone!! - K.P., Huntington Beach CA