What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a comprehensive, extensively utilized stand-alone system of medicine that originated in China over 5,000 years ago. Acupuncture, although arguably the most recognized aspect of TCM, is just one of the facets at the practitioner’s disposal. TCM encompasses other modalities, including herbal remedies, nutrition and food therapy, Chinese style therapeutic massage (Tui-Na), cupping, moxibustion, and Gua Sha.
TCM takes a holistic, or "whole-body", approach to health. This means that when you come in for your visits, I will take into account all aspects of your health and lifestyle. Your symptoms will not be addressed individually and separately, but will provide insight into an underlying cause of your health concerns.
What is acupuncture & how does it work?
Acupuncture is the insertion of hair-thin needles in certain points or regions of the body to evoke a physiological response by alerting the body to regulate the nervous system and endocrine system (hormones).
Simply stated, when your body is on high alert, due to stress, trauma, poor sleep, or overwork, then your nervous system can get locked into the sympathetic state (commonly known as "fight or flight"). Over time, chronic stress weakens the immune system, disrupts hormones, reduces levels of neurotransmitters (like serotonin and dopamine), and if not treated promptly can develop into long-term chronic illness, such as autoimmune, inflammatory, or cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and more.
Acupuncture is a gentle, yet powerfully effective way to take your body out of the sympathetic state (fight or flight) and into the parasympathetic state (rest & digest), which allows your body's own natural healing capabilities to kick in.
- Increases circulation
- Stimulates the production of endorphins (our body's natural pain killers) for pain relief
- Stimulates production of red blood cells to help boost energy and white blood cells to regulate the immune system
- Re-sets the nervous system back to its natural healthy state
- Regulates hormones
- Reduces inflammation
- Produces healthy blood and lymph flow
Check out this 2 minute video to learn more about how acupuncture works.
Is acupuncture safe?
The simple answer is yes! Acupuncture is extremely safe when done by a properly trained Licensed Acupuncturist. There are virtually no negative side-effects, and minimum risk.
In a study of more than 34,000 treatments performed, no serious adverse events (defined as events that required patient admission to a hospital; led to permanent disability; or resulted in death) were noted. Researchers stated, “The conclusion that acupuncture is a very safe intervention in the hands of a competent practitioner seems justified on the evidence available. While the risks of acupuncture cannot be discounted, it certainly seems, in skilled hands, one of the safer forms of medical intervention.”
Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture should not be painful. In fact, many of my patients fall asleep on the treatment table in the midst of their session.
I am notoriously terrified of needles when it comes to the typical hypodermic needle we have come to fear at the doctor's office. Acupuncture needles are different. Much different. They are tiny; the diameter is that of a strand of hair. Typical sensations reported from acupuncture include a feeling of “heaviness”, “warmth”, or “tingling”; surprisingly, people experience a welcomed state of relaxation.
I use only the highest quality needles with a gentle technique to ensure the most comfortable and relaxing experience.
How can I be sure my acupuncturist is qualified?
Not all acupuncturists are created equally. “Certified Acupuncturists” or “Acupuncture Specialists”, including some medical doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists, typically receive very few hours of acupuncture education with no hands on training, and many become "certified" over a weekend course or a few hours online.
Licensed Acupuncturists are the only acupuncturists who have been Credentialed and Licensed by the Texas Medical Board. They have completed at minimum a four-year Master’s Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from a nationally accredited college of acupuncture. Training includes over 2,500 hours of TCM specific education, including Biomedicine, Herbology, Nutrition, Acupuncture, and more. Licensed Acupuncturists also complete 1.5 to 2.5 years of hands-on, supervised clinical experience, treating between 300 to 500 patients before graduation.
It is important to understand who is qualified to use acupuncture needles as a treatment in order to ensure maximum safety and effectiveness. The key is to look for “L.Ac.,” which stands for “Licensed Acupuncturist”. Licensed Acupuncturists must successfully pass several national board exams as well as fulfill state and local requirements. Don’t be afraid to ask a practitioner for their credentials; it is crucial that you feel confident in your provider’s qualifications and skill level.
How many acupuncture sessions will I need?
The short answer is I won't know until I've conducted an initial evaluation and consultation. However, nearly always, a minimum of one course of treatment (a series of 8 to 12 sessions) is needed to resolve an issue. After the initial course of treatment, I will reassess your condition and modify the treatment plan as needed. I will also provide ways to help you make the most out of your acupuncture sessions. Those who respond best to acupuncture dedicate time to their own healing by making dietary and lifestyle modifications, if appropriate, and adhering to their treatment plan.
The number of sessions needed to resolve an issue depends on how long the condition has been present and how quickly you respond to treatment. Generally, for an acute condition, the response is relatively quick (5 to 8 sessions). For more chronic conditions, it is estimated that for every year you have suffered from the condition, it takes about that many months for the condition to be resolved. You should expect to feel some relief by 3 to 5 treatments. As with any medical procedure or therapy, there are no guarantees, and there are cases in which patients have responded more quickly or more slowly than what was estimated.
What can acupuncture help treat?
Leading national and international health organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization, recognize acupuncture to be effective in the treatment of a variety of medical problems included below.
Phoenix Rising Acupuncture specializes in the treatment of Emotional Health.
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Addiction: Smoking, Alcohol, Drugs
- Eating disorders
- Urinary tract infections
- Nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Headaches & Migraines
- Bell’s palsy
- Fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue
- Low Back Pain
Respiratory, Ear, Nose & Throat
- Colds and Flu
- Post nasal drip
- Dry Eyes
- Fluid in Ears
- Recurrent Ear Infections
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Acid Reflux/ GERD
- Gas/Abdominal bloating
- Weight Loss/Weight Gain
- Thyroid Conditions
- Hair Loss
- Healing from surgery
One of the most powerful aspects of acupuncture is that it is highly individualized and specific to any given patient’s condition at different points in time. There is no “one size fits all”; it is a dynamic and fluid medical treatment that adapts beautifully to changing conditions.
Is acupuncture covered through my health insurance?
Some insurance companies cover acupuncture, and a majority of Flexible Spending Accounts or Health Savings Plans cover acupuncture. Phoenix Rising Acupuncture does not accept insurance; however, I can provide a Super Bill, so that you may send to your insurance carrier that may pay for a portion of your acupuncture costs. It is recommended that you contact your insurance provider to verify coverage. Phoenix Rising Acupuncture does accept Flexible Spending and Health Savings Accounts.
What should I expect during my first acupuncture visit?
Initial visits generally last 75 to 90 minutes. I will conduct a full evaluation, take a detailed health history, and provide you with a customized treatment plan. You will be asked a wide range of questions about your symptoms, your diet, your sleep, exercise and lifestyle habits, emotional states and anything else that may offer insight into your overall health.
Your customized treatment plan will include:
- Frequency of sessions needed
- Estimated timeline of care
- What types of treatment you will receive, including acupuncture, cupping, and/or herbal therapy
Please eat prior to each acupuncture treatment, and wear loose clothing. I look forward to seeing you.