Common Questions

Q: Does acupuncture hurt?

A: Many patients do not even realize the needle has been inserted. Once the needle has obtained the correct stimulus, the patient should feel some cramping, heaviness, distention, tingling, or electric sensation either around the needle or traveling up or down the affected meridian, or energy pathway. In Chinese, acupuncture is bu tong, painless. Some Western Cultures may categorize these sensations as types of pain. In any case, if you experience any discomfort, it is usually mild.

Q: Are the needles clean?

A: All the needles used are sterilized, individually packaged, and disposable. They are only used one time. The doctor will open each one from its sealed container in front of you. This eliminates the possibility of transmitting a communicable disease by a contaminated needle.

Q: How many treatments will I need?

A: That depends upon the duration, severity, and nature of your complaint. You may need only a single treatment for an acute condition. A series of five to fifteen treatments may resolve many chronic problems. Some long established or degenerative conditions may require many treatments over time.

Q: What's the difference between Western folk herbalism and Chinese herbal medicine?

A: Western folk herbalism primarily treats disease or symptoms, such as headaches, runny nose, menstrual pain, etc. Chinese herbal medicine, when practiced as a part of TCM, is based on an individualized pattern diagnosis as well as a disease diagnosis. Your pattern is made up of your signs and symptoms, your emotional temperament and the overall composition of your body

The TCM patient receives a custom written herbal prescription designed to treat their individual pattern as well as the symptom or disease.

TCM formulas are crafted to treat your entire pattern as well as the symptoms or disease that prompted you to seek treatment. TCM formulas may include six to eighteen herbs to treat the symptoms or disease as well as your entire pattern.

Q: Do Chinese herbal medicines have side effects?

A: Most of the components of Chinese herbal medicine have a very low toxicity compared to even common, over-the-counter Western drugs. When they are prescribed according to a correct TCM pattern diagnosis, they should have few, if any, side effects, only beneficial healing results.

If you experience any discomfort while taking Chinese herbal medicine, tell your practitioner who will modify the formula until there are no side effects.

Q: How long does it take to see results with Chinese herbal medicine?

A: In acute conditions, results may occur in a matter of minutes. In chronic conditions, some results should be seen within two weeks. Although chronic conditions may require taking Chinese herbal medicine for a long time, signs that the medicine is working should be apparent to the patient and practitioner alike almost from the very start.

Questions and answers are from the American Society of Acupuncturists.