Frequently Asked Questions
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is grounded in the belief that the mind and body are a single, energetic system. The practice involves the gentle insertion and manipulation of very fine needles at specific points along the body’s meridian pathways to restore the proper flow of Qi – the life force that energizes all metabolic activity in our body. Disease, discomfort and pain occur when the flow of Qi is blocked or unbalanced. By influencing the flow of Qi throughout the body, acupuncture helps to increase circulation, decrease inflammation and pain, improve mood and reduce stress, enhance digestion, regulate hormones and sleep, and boost immunity. Ultimately, acupuncture helps restore wellness by improving the body’s energy flow, harmonizing the body’s biochemical balance, and stimulating the body’s own innate ability to heal itself.
Acupuncture is part of the holistic system of healing known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – the oldest medical system on earth, having been continuously and actively practiced for more than four centuries. It is currently the fastest growing healing modality in the United States.
What are some of the long-term benefits of regularly seeing an acupuncturist?
As a complement to your conventional medical care, acupuncture can treat both acute and chronic problems such as insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain, poor digestive and/or elimination, headaches, low energy, chronic fatigue, and much more. Acupuncture can also help to reduce or eliminate the need for many medications including narcotics and other pain-relievers (always in consultation with your primary care physician). Because it is a holistic mind-body medicine, many people credit acupuncture with helping them experience increased clarity, creativity and emotional balance in their daily lives. By unblocking obstacles to movement within body, mind and spirit, acupuncture can be a powerful catalyst for change in all areas of life.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Since acupuncture involves the use of needles inserted through the skin, you will naturally have some sensation of it. However, the needles used in acupuncture are no thicker then a piece of thread. They are made of solid, yet flexible stainless steel (and are virtually painless compared to the hollow needles used by doctors or in hospitals). People often describe an initial feeling of heaviness, pressure, tingling, or warmth at the insertion site. Often, these sensations are only felt briefly and dissipate quickly as the body gets used to the needles. Some people even feel a traveling sensation along the acupuncture channel, providing an unexpected awareness of Qi (energy) moving and communicating through out the body. This phenomenon is temporary and lets you know the needles are having their intended effect. If a needle doesn’t feel entirely comfortable, it can always be adjusted. Once the needles are in and you’re relaxing on the table for the duration of the treatment, most people have little-to-no awareness of the needles.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is a natural treatment that is extremely safe with few-to-no adverse side effects when practiced by a qualified, licensed professional (L.Ac). Only sterile, single-use needles are used in our clinic which are disposed of after each treatment to minimize infection. All licensed acupuncturists are trained and certified in Clean Needle Technique, the only national protocol of standards and guidelines established by the CCAOM (Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) for the clean and safe clinical practice of acupuncture.
What is a typical acupuncture treatment like?
After a thorough intake where we will discuss your health concerns and goals in-depth, you will lie down on the massage table to be needled. Needles are often inserted in the extremities of the body (below the elbows and knees) as these points are among the strongest in their therapeutic effect. You will rest on the table with the needles in for 20 – 30 minutes in order to allow the treatment to take effect. Certain conditions may call for the use of additional Chinese medical techniques such as tui na (Chinese medical massage), moxibustion (heat therapy), cupping and/or gua sha (impurity releasing therapies), in addition to essential oils. A Chinese herbal formula may also be prescribed to augment your acupuncture treatment.
How many needles are used during a treatment?
The number of needles used during a treatment varies with every patient, every treatment, and with each health concern. Generally, 10 – 20 needles will be used during most treatments. Accurate selection of specific acupuncture points, intention and placement are the keys to an excellent treatment. I believe that using fewer, more focused needles is more effective than using a larger quantity of needles, which can often send multiple, conflicting “messages” to the body.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments will vary 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 do report feeling changes/improvement after just one acupuncture treatment. Weekly treatments are advised at the start of a course of treatment. Importantly, the benefits of acupuncture are cumulative and build over time. Once symptoms improve and balance is restored, treatments are often reduced to every other week and eventually once a month or less to maintain health and prevent reoccurrence. We will discuss the best plan of treatment with you at your first visit so you know what to expect.
Do you treat multiple patients at the same time?
I treat only one person in my office at a time. My full attention and focus is on you alone. As you relax on the table and let the needles do their work, I will check in with you to make sure you feel comfortable (unless of course, you fall asleep during the treatment – which is quite common – and then I’ll let you nap until it’s time to remove the needles).
I’m still nervous about the needles – how do I get over that?
It is understandable to be apprehensive about the insertion of needles. Acupuncture needles are rarely described as painful, and can be quickly adjusted if there is any discomfort. They are very different than hypodermic needles used at the doctor’s office to vaccinate or draw blood. Acupuncture needles are tiny – just hair thin – as well as 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. My needle technique is gentle and my intention is to be as painless as possible. I take great care to make my patients feel very comfortable so that they can relax while the needles are in place. The more you can relax during an acupuncture treatment, the better the results.
Do I have to be sick to benefit from acupuncture?
Absolutely not. Maintaining good health and mind-body balance is much easier than trying to recover it after it’s been lost. Acupuncture is the original preventative medicine, and many people get monthly or seasonal “tune-ups” to boost their energy and immunity all year long. Practicing self-care with regular acupuncture treatments when you’re well can help you preserve radiant health – and avoid illness –- throughout the year.
Can acupuncture address emotion issues as well as physical symptoms?
In western cultures, spirit and matter are thought of as separate entities. The ancient Chinese never distinguished between the body and our mind or spirit, believing that good health and disease are both holistic in nature. Everything is connected. And our thoughts, experiences and emotions – cumulative stress, emotional shock, trauma or grief – are all stored in our body as energy. Anxiety, worry and fear can overwhelm daily life and literally make us sick with physical symptoms that weaken our ability to battle illness. Regular treatments to relieve stress and anxiety can help keep you physically strong and emotionally steady during challenging times.
Can acupuncture help relieve side effects from chemo and radiation therapies?
Absolutely. If you are undergoing the strong, aggressive western medical treatments of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation as part of your cancer treatment, you need to be equally strong and aggressive with supporting your body’s immunity and emotional health as well. Acupuncture is among the most well-researched adjunct therapies for oncology and has been shown to be very effective in relieving a wide range of symptoms and conditions associated with cancer and the side effects of cancer treatments.
Can acupuncture help me through seasonal transitions?
If you suffer with seasonal allergies or have a tendency to catch every cold or flu that goes around during winter, you could benefit from making an acupuncture appointment just before the season starts. This can help you build up your immunity during a time when you’re not in a health crisis. Of course, acupuncture and herbal medicine are both extremely effective ways to fight a cold, flu or allergies when they first strike.
Can Chinese medicine be used in conjunction with Western medicine?
Yes. While Chinese medicine is a comprehensive medical system in its own right that can address virtually any health concern, most of my patients use it as a complement to western medicine and other modalities of healthcare. We welcome a collaborative relationship with your other health care providers and work closely with many of our patients’ primary care physicians.
What are Chinese herbs?
Herbal medicines represent the unique chemistry of the plant, animal and mineral kingdom from which they come, and are part of the same fabric of life in which we all live, breathe and move. When we ingest these substances, they “speak” to our cells in a common language – a communication between the elements of nature within the herb and the elements of nature within our cells. Rather than producing a forceful command or shift in the body the way some drugs do, herbal medicine works by suggesting or encouraging the body, gently moving us into a different, better state of being.
How are Chinese herbs used?
Chinese herbal medicine is based on many of the same principles as acupuncture which aims to treat disharmonies or imbalances within the body, as well as restore the proper flow of Qi along the channels. Chinese herbal medicine is a wonderful compliment to an acupuncture treatment. Many practitioners use Chinese herbal formulas as a way to extend the therapeutic benefits in between acupuncture treatments. By taking herbs on a daily basis, the positive momentum created by acupuncture is enhanced and extended.
How are Chinese herbs taken?
Chinese herbs are available in several forms. Our apothecary at The Alchemy Project stocks both raw herbs (to drink as a tea after being “decocted” or boiled in hot water) and patent medicines (herbs that have been conveniently encapsulated) and we will work with you to decide which form is best suited to your needs. In all cases, you will receive specific instructions about dose, frequency and preparation. Most herbs work best on an empty stomach (unless instructed otherwise) and are usually taken about an hour before a meal.
How do Chinese herbs differ from Western herbs?
The biggest difference between Chinese and Western herbs is that Chinese herbs are generally given as a formula that is made up of many herbs (often as many as 6 – 10 different herbs) rather than just a single herb. These herbs work together to achieve a desired affect and are also designed to reduce or eliminate side effects.
Does The Alchemy Project accept insurance?
No, at this time we do not take insurance. We accept Cash, Check, Visa, Master Card or American Express. The Alchemy Project requires payment at the conclusion of your office visit.
What are your fees?
At The Alchemy Project we are committed to making Chinese Medicine accessible to everyone who is seeking to revitalize their health without sacrificing the individual, private nature of a one-on-one treatment. . . or breaking the bank. Acupuncture is most effective when it is received regularly as the treatment effects are cumulative. Our aim is to make it possible for you to receive acupuncture frequently enough to get better and stay better.
Initial Consultation & Treatment: $65.00
No matter the health concern, your journey to health begins with an in-depth initial consultation where we will review your health history, discuss your daily habits, understand your goals, and work with you to develop a treatment plan based on your personal needs. This treatment will include both front and back acupuncture treatment, as well as an evaluation/prescription for herbs. Plan for this first appointment to take about 90 minutes.
Follow-Up Consultation & Treatment (60 minutes): $50.00
Follow-up appointments allow you to continue your progress or bring new concerns to my attention. The treatment always begins with acupuncture, and may include other Chinese medical therapies (moxabustion, cupping, tui na, etc...) as well as an herbal evaluation. These appointments will last approximately 45 - 60 minutes.
Herbal Consult: $45.00
An herbal consultation includes a full intake of your health history and prescription of an herbal formula that can be refilled or adjusted as your condition/health change. This consultation allows me to determine the range of Chinese herbal formulas that might be most effective for your concerns and meet your health goals. The cost of the herbal formula is additional.
Return Visit for Herbs: $25.00
This appointment is for established patients who want an herbal consultation for a new condition. This consult generally takes about 30 minutes.
What does Western medicine have to say about acupuncture?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of conditions and illnesses including:
Mental / Emotional Issues
Female Reproductive & Gynecological Conditions
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
- Spotting and Excessive Bleeding
- Amenorrhea (Loss of Menstrual Period)
Male Health & Reproduction
- Spasms of esophagus
- Acute and Chronic Gastritis
- Gastric Hyperacidity
- Chronic Duodenal Ulcer (pain relief)
- Acute and Chronic Colitis
- Acute Dysentery
Neurologic and Musculoskeletal Disorders
- Headache and Migraine
- Chronic Fatigue
- Trigeminal Neuralgias
- Facial Palsy (early stage - within 3-6 months)
- Pareses Following a Stroke
- Peripheral Neuropathies
- Sequelae of Poliomyelitis (early stage - within 6 months)
- Meniere's Disease
- Neurogenic Bladder Dysfunction
- Nocturnal Enuresis (bedwetting)
- Intercostal Neuralgia
- Sports Injuries and Pain
- Frozen Shoulder
- Tennis Elbow
- Low Back Pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Back and Knee Pain
Upper Respiratory Tract
- Acute sinusitis
- Acute rhinitis
- Common Cold / Flu
- Acute bronchitis
- Bronchial asthma