AcuDoll283About Acupuncture:

About Herbs and Tradicional Chinese Medicine Diagnosis:
About Treatments:

About Licensed Acupuncturists and Medical Acupuncturists:

Information partially gathered from the California State Oriental Medical Association.



What is acupuncture and Traditional Chinese/Oriental Medicine?

Oriental medicine has been practiced for more than 2,500 years and includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxibustion, Oriental massage and Oriental nutrition. It is a system of medicine that categorizes body patterns into specific types of diagnoses with corresponding treatment plans. Asian/Oriental medicine is practiced in most parts of the world and is now being taught in most American Medical schools including Harvard Medical School. One may be surprised to find that Asian/Oriental medical theory and practice has spread to France, England, Spain, Germany, Russia, much of Middle and South America, and Africa. Acupuncture is the insertion of tiny needles about the size of a human hair into the skin to stimulate specific acupuncture points found on the body. Acupuncture and Asian/Oriental Medicine has gained worldwide acceptance and recognition as effective medical treatment. Over 15 million Americans have been treated by acupuncture. The research and knowledge about Asian/Oriental Medicine is only increasing. Other aspects of Oriental medicine are:
  • Electro-acupuncture - the use of microcurrent technology, and electrical stimulation of the acupuncture points.
  • Diet, Lifestyle and Nutritional Counseling
  • Cupping - this employs a glass as a suction device to stimulate blood circulation
  • Tai Chi - a form of physical exercise
  • Qi Gong - breath exercise
  • Meditation - a form of relaxation
  • Various forms of therapeutic massage
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How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture treatment is rendered based on an Asian/Oriental medical diagnosis that includes an assessment of pulse quality, shape and color of the tongue, medical history and whole body evaluation. Following the diagnosis, acupuncture points are chosen on the body along acupuncture meridians, or pathways. Needle stimulation of these points increases the body’s healing energy or Qi. The body has approximately one thousand acupuncture points.

Qi circulates throughout the body within the meridians, which also are related to the internal organs. Qi surfaces to the skin level at specific points. Good health depends on the smooth flow of Qi. When the flow of Qi is blocked due to trauma, poor diet, medications, stress, hereditary conditions, environmental factors, or excessive emotional issues, the system is disrupted. Illness is then generated. In accordance with ancient theory, acupuncture allows Qi to flow to areas where it is deficient and away from areas where it is in excess. In this way, acupuncture regulates and restores a harmonious energetic balance in the body. There is a Chinese saying, “There is no pain if there is free flow; if there is pain, there is no free flow.”

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What does acupuncture treat?

A partial list includes:

  • Musculoskeletal: Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain, Tennis Elbow, Carpal Tunnel, Back Pain, Knee Pain, Sciatica Foot Pain, Sports Injuries
  • Neurological/Nervous System: Headache, Insomnia, Stroke, Stress Disorders, Bell’s Palsy, Hyperthyroidism, High Blood Pressure, Neuralgia Epilepsy
  • Gynecological: Fertility (Male/Female), Menstrual Pain, PMS, Menopause, Pregnancy, Cysts
  • Respiratory: Asthma, Cough, Sore Throat, Common Cold, Hay Fever, Other Diverse Allergies
  • Gastrointestinal: Constipation, Diarrhea, Acid Reflux, Nausea, Stomach Pain, Poor Digestion
  • Others: Heart Disorders, High/Low Blood Pressure, Chronic Fatigue, Impact Cancer Treatment, Men’s Health Issues, Addiction, Accident Related Injuries, Anxiety & Depression, Skin Disorders.

According to a report from the World Health Organization the following diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proven—through controlled trials—to be an effective treatment are:

  • Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Biliary colic
  • Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  • Dysentery, acute bacillary
  • Dysmenorrhoea, primary
  • Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
  • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • Headache
  • Hypertension, essential
  • Hypotension, primary
  • Induction of labor
  • Knee pain
  • Leukopenia
  • Low back pain
  • Malposition of fetus, correction of
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Postoperative pain
  • Renal colic
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Sprain
  • Stroke
  • Tennis elbow
Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acne vulgaris
  • Alcohol dependence and detoxification
  • Bell's palsy
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Cancer pain
  • Cardiac neurosis
  • Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Competition stress syndrome
  • Craniocerebral injury, closed
  • Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
  • Earache
  • Epidemic hemorrhagic fever
  • Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)
  • Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
  • Female infertility
  • Facial spasm
  • Female urethral syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
  • Gastrokinetic disturbance
  • Gouty arthritis
  • Hepatitis B virus carrier status
  • Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpes virus 3)
  • Hyperlipaemia
  • Hypo-ovarianism
  • Insomnia
  • Labor pain
  • Lactation, deficiency
  • Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
  • Ménière disease
  • Neuralgia, post-herpetic
  • Neurodermatitis
  • Obesity
  • Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pain due to endoscopic examination
  • Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome)
  • Postextubation in children
  • Postoperative convalescence
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Prostatitis, chronic
  • Pruritus
  • Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
  • Raynaud syndrome, primary
  • Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Retention of urine, traumatic
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sialism, drug-induced
  • Sjögren syndrome
  • Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
  • Spine pain, acute
  • Stiff neck
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • Tietze syndrome
  • Tobacco dependence
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis, chronic
  • Urolithiasis
  • Vascular dementia
  • Whooping cough (pertussis)
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What are acupuncture needles and how deeply are the needles inserted?

Acupuncture needles are sterile surgical grade steel needles.  The needles used in almost all clinics in the U.S. are single use needles.  This means that they come from the manufacturer in sterile packaging and are only opened immediately before insertion.

The needle itself is only slightly thicker than a human hair.

Acupuncture needles are solid unlike the hypodermic needles used by physicians which are hollow and cut away more tissue.  Needle size and insertion depth depend upon the nature of the problem. Depths can be from 0.2 to 3 inches. Also taken into consideration are: the patient’s size, age, and constitution.

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How do the acupuncture needles work?

Scientific research has discovered that acupuncture points show a variety of unique bioelectric properties. Stimulation of acupuncture points cause definite physiological reactions affecting brain activity, such as releasing pain-killing endorphins, influencing blood pressure, enhancing the immune system, balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and enhancing the endocrine system. Most of all, acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural ability to heal itself, regain homeostasis, and maintain its relationship with nature.

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Is there medicine on the needle?

No. It is the needle itself that initiates physiological changes and stimulates the movement of Qi to cause a corrective change in the body.

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Are the needles sterile?

Yes the needles used at Healthy Lives Acupuncture are pre-sterilized, non-toxic and disposable. Communication of disease through acupuncture has not been an issue in the U.S.; a record, few other health care professions can claim. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. The FDA requires manufacturers of acupuncture needles to label them for single use only.

Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA when considering the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used.

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Is acupuncture painful?


At the time the needle is inserted, some may feel soreness or slight pain. Others may feel nothing. Common Qi sensations around the needle include: tingling, electrical sensations that may travel above or below the needle, or a sense of swelling at the insertion site. Stimulation of needles can be done manually, or by attaching electrodes that transmit a weak current. Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed.

It is important to seek treatment from a qualified acupuncture practitioner to ensure proper needle placement and stimulation. In any case, if you experience discomfort during or after the treatment, it is usually mild and short term. Because the purpose of acupuncture is to balance your body, there are no long-term negative side effects. On the contrary, relaxation and a sense of well-being often occur during and after treatment. Often patients become so relaxed that they sleep during treatment.

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Are there side effects of acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a considerably safe treatment method.  The incidences of negative outcomes or reactions to acupuncture are statistically negligible.  The most common ill effect that most people have is simply some slight light headedness when getting off of the table, also occasionally bruising can occur.

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What is involved in herbal treatment/therapy?


Beyond understanding acupuncture, the public is quite curious about the Chinese herbal aspect of Oriental medicine. Chinese herbal medicine consists mainly of vegetable sources, leaves, flowers, twigs, stems, roots, tubers, rhizomes, and bark. In addition, there are animal and mineral products used on occasion when necessary. Most acupuncturists use herbal medicine in raw, powder, and pill form. Raw herbs take some cooking and may taste strong or undesirable. There is a saying in Chinese, “bitter mouth, good medicine.” Herbal pills may be prescribed instead of raw herbs for less severe conditions. Likewise, herbal medicines are rapidly increasing in economic importance, with the U.S. claiming over $60 million in world market herbal sales, including raw materials.

In China, herbal medicine has traditionally been the most fundamental method of treatment. Medicinal herbal formulas are dispensed to each patient based upon the patient’s individual constitution and current medical condition. Unlike western herbs, Chinese herbs are used in very specific combinations, as opposed to singular herbs. An herbal formula may be comprised of as many as 15 herbs, all having specific purposes within the formula. These herbal formulas, like acupuncture, work to unlock the Qi, to nourish, and to repair the organs.

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How is diagnosis and treatment ascertained through Oriental medicine?


Before providing acupuncture treatment or prescribing herbs, an Oriental medical doctor must take an assessment of your body by using diagnostic methods such as: asking you questions about your medical history, reviewing western medical findings, looking at your tongue, feeling your pulse at your wrists, palpating your abdomen and meridians along the body, checking the appearance, texture, color and temperature of your skin, assessing how your voice sounds, evaluating your gait, facial diagnosis, and also several other diagnostic techniques particular to the style of the doctor’s practice. Soon after, he or she will come up with an Oriental medical diagnosis, which is quite different than a western medical diagnosis. Then, they will treat you accordingly based upon their assessment. Because of the fluid and ever changing nature of the human body, an Oriental medical diagnosis and treatment protocol can change as well.

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What is the length of an acupuncture treatment?


Individual treatments will vary in length from 20 minutes to one hour.  The initial visit is much more entailed and will last for approximately two hours, please plan accordingly.

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How many treatments will I require?


Each patient is unique and responds to acupuncture differently, so the number and frequency of treatments will vary from patient to patient.

The number of treatments needed to address a specific health concern depends upon the duration, severity, and nature of your complaint. You may need only a single treatment for an acute condition or a series of five to fifteen treatments to resolve many chronic problems. Your body constitution, severity of problem, and the length of time that you have been sick, will all play a part in this. Since acupuncture addresses the health of the whole body, there are many people that seek regular acupuncture treatment to maintain good health and as a preventative measure.

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What is the educational level of acupuncturists?


To qualify for licensure in California, a practitioner must qualify for and pass the California Acupuncture Board (CAB) licensure examination. To qualify to sit for the CAB exam, a student must complete a 3000-hour master degree level program at a CAB-approved school or demonstrate equivalent training.  Entrance into an approved school requires bachelorette level education with a focus on sciences.  In Colorado the acupuncturist must pass the National Certification Exam through the NCCAOM, once the candidate has passed the exam they are then eligible for Colorado licensure.  Through the year the licensed practitioner is required to participate in state and nationally required continuing education classes, approximately 50 hours a year.

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Do medical doctors practice acupuncture?


The term used for the practice of acupuncture by medical doctors is “medical acupuncture”. The consumer should be aware that unless medical acupuncturists carry the designation of L.Ac., they are not licensed or trained the same as an acupuncturist, their training in Oriental medicine and acupuncture may most likely be significantly less.

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What is the difference between licensed acupuncturists and medical acupuncturists?


A California L.Ac. is required to take at least 805 hours of didactic training in acupuncture and Oriental medicine theory, 450 hours of herbal medicine, and have 950 hours of clinical experience out of the total of 3,000 hours of graduate study. In contrast, MDs certified in “medical acupuncture” by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture are required to take only 200 hours of didactic training in acupuncture and 100 hours of clinical training.

Do not rely on an Oriental medical diagnosis of disease by an acupuncture practitioner who does not have substantial Oriental medical training. Because an individual is a medical doctor, it does not automatically mean that he or she has also had Oriental medical training.

If you have received a diagnosis from a doctor and have had little or no success using conventional medicine, you may wish to ask your doctor whether acupuncture might help.

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Can patients address health issues collaboratively with their acupuncturist and MD?


Increasingly, acupuncture is complementing conventional therapies. For example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control surgery- related pain in their patients. By providing both acupuncture and certain conventional anesthetic drugs, some doctors have found it possible to achieve a state of complete pain relief for some patients. They also have found that using acupuncture lowers the need for conventional pain-killing drugs and thus reduces the risk of side effects for patients who take the drugs.

Your right to ask. Your right to know. Your right to choose: As a consumer, it is your right to ask your acupuncturist regarding their level of training in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Based upon the knowledge you gain, it is your right to choose the level of qualifications you prefer for the type of treatment you are seeking.

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Is the use of acupuncture and alternative medicine increasing in the U.S.?


In November 1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened a panel of 12 distinguished physicians and scientists to review the history, licensing, practice and current status of clinical research on the effectiveness of acupuncture. The result was the first formal endorsement of acupuncture by the NIH, stating, “There is sufficient evidence of acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value.” The panel urged health professionals to consider acupuncture, particularly integrating its use with conventional medicine after a thorough medical workup.

The panel determined that evidence for relief of post-operative pain and nausea associated with pregnancy or chemotherapy is clear-cut. Other conditions, including stroke, headache and chronic low back pain, were listed as benefiting from acupuncture. The panel also noted that acupuncture appears to be effective in relieving common disorders such as menstrual cramps, muscle pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, addiction and asthma. They also recognized that acupuncture treatment can result in a reduction in the amount of pain medication or anesthesia that might otherwise be required.

Acupuncture has been cited by the World Health Organization (WHO) to treat over 43 conditions.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass reported: visits to practitioners and the use of alternative therapies increased 47% between 1990 and 1997. The research was conducted via telephone interviews in 1990 (1,539 adults) and 1997 (2,055).

  • A 47% increase in alternative medicine represented an estimated 427 million visits to practitioners in 1990, increasing to 629 million in 1997 – exceeding total visits to all primary care physicians in the U. S. (396 million in 1997).
  • An estimated 83 million American adults (more than 4 out of 10) used some form of alternative medical treatment last year.
  • An estimated $27 billion, most of it not reimbursed by insurance, was spent on alternative treatment in 1997.
  • Types of Treatment: 42% comprised of treatment of existing illnesses and 58% for prevention and health maintenance. These are two areas that traditional western medicine doesn’t adequately address. “It is the beginning of acceptance of some forms of alternative medicine into mainstream medicine in the US,” said George Lundberg. “Acceptance the good old fashioned way – by merit.” According to an August 2001 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine which investigated the use of acupuncture, herbal medicines, yoga, massage and other complementary medicines:
  • Americans, regardless of age, are relying on at least one of 20 different therapies studied.
  • Across all age groups studied, of those that tried alternative therapy, 50% continued to use it 20 years later.
  • The study authors write: “These responses imply that alternative therapies are perceived to be a force to be reckoned with for some time to come.”

Researchers at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, with the support of the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM), [OAM is the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) predecessor], conducted a randomized controlled clinical trial and found that patients treated with acupuncture after dental surgery had less intense pain than patients who received a placebo. Scientists at the university also found that older people with osteoarthritis experienced significantly more pain relief after using conventional drugs and acupuncture together than those using conventional therapy alone.

OAM also funded several preliminary studies on acupuncture that have shown promising results in such diverse conditions as: decreases in depressive episodes, improvement in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and reduced rate of breech births. Researchers reporting in the November 11, 1998, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association conducted a randomized controlled clinical trial using moxibustion for breech births. They found that moxibustion applied to 130 pregnant women presenting breech significantly increased the number of normal headfirst births.

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