Frequently Asked Questions
At the center of oriental medicine is the concept that qi (pronounced “chee”), or life energy, flows through the body within acupuncture meridians. As long as qi is abundant and flowing freely, the body remains in balanced health, also known as homeostasis. When the qi flow is obstructed, it becomes backed up in one area of the body and restricted in another area. There is a saying in Chinese Medicine, “Pain is no movement; movement is no pain”. Many life factors can influence the quality and quantity of qi within the body; these factors are also implicated in the obstruction of qi. Common sources include trauma (both physical and emotional), poor diet, stress, lack of exercise or over-exertion, and seasonal changes. Acupuncture promotes and re-establishes the free flow of qi, allowing the body to self-correct. Oriental medicine includes the following:
Acupuncture seeks to correct health on the qi level. There are pathways within the human body through which qi flows; these pathways are called meridians or channels. Small, sterile, single-use needles are inserted along these meridians into specific acupuncture points to influence the qi that flows to the internal organs; this process affects both the structure and function of these organs. These acupuncture points were mapped by practitioners in China over 2000 years ago and in the past few decades research has confirmed the existence and location of these points. Needles can also work on specific areas of pain that may not be associated with internal problems – sport injuries, for example. A needle inserted near the area of a pulled tendon or overstrained muscle will increase the flow of qi to that area; this decreases the pain and accelerates the healing process.
Chinese herbal medicine:
Chinese herbal formulas can treat a full range of human disease. They are especially good for promoting the body’s ability to heal itself. Chinese herbs can be used to treat acute diseases such as a head cold or a sports injury and they are extremely useful in treating chronic symptoms associated with weak digestion, insomnia, menopausal symptoms, anxiety and/or depression, back pain, low immunity, seasonal allergies, painful periods and infertility.
Cupping is an ancient method used to move qi and blood deep within and on the surface of the body. The cup creates suction and is applied to the skin. Cupping is used to treat conditions such as neck and shoulder pain, low back pain, headaches, common cold/flu symptoms, asthma, and painful periods.
Moxibustion commonly called Moxa, uses the Chinese herb mugwort or common wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris). The herb is applied to the top of the needle or directly on the skin to warm the meridians and promote smooth flow of qi. Moxa can be used to treat symptoms associated with neuropathy, autoimmune disorders, gynecological issues, and generalized weakness or fatigue.
Chinese dietary therapy:
Chinese dietary therapy differs from western nutrition. The focus is placed not only on the nutritional content of a specific food, but also on its properties such as taste and temperature. Emphasis is placed on awareness of the foods we eat and when we eat them, in order to maintain internal balance.
If you have not already completed your paperwork early, please arrive 20 minutes early for your first appointment. All new patient forms are provided by the clinic upon your arrival. Please wear loose, comfortable clothing that can be rolled up to the knees and elbows. Also, make sure you have eaten a small meal before acupuncture. Having treatment on an empty stomach can lead to dizziness and nausea but it is not recommended to eat heavy, greasy foods before or after acupuncture. Make sure to drink plenty of water before and after your treatment as well. Please allow 60-90 minutes for your first visit, this includes time for the health consultation and a full acupuncture treatment. Your first visit takes longer than follow-up visits because we want to take the time to get to know you as an individual and how your body works. We will feel your pulse and examine your tongue, two methods used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to confirm your diagnosis. After the consultation, you will receive your first treatment in a private setting; needles are typically retained for 20-30 minutes.
Acupuncture should not hurt, but you should feel it. Most people enjoy treatment and find it very comfortable, restful, and relaxing. Sometimes the needle insertion feels like a quick pinch that rapidly subsides. Some people report a mild tingling, heaviness, warmth, or a dull ache at the acupuncture point, which is a sensation of qi moving. Generally, sessions last about an hour, in which the patient rests or even falls asleep. After your treatment, you can expect to feel less pain, more energy, and a heightened sense of well-being. Side effects are rare but may include the following symptoms: light-headedness, dizziness, sleepiness, euphoria, nausea, slight bruising and residual muscle aching. Any of these should last only a very short time.
The number of treatments a patient needs depends upon the severity and duration of the symptoms. Acute conditions such as cold and flu symptoms and recent injuries generally take 4-6 visits to resolve. For chronic symptoms, a longer course of treatment (6-12 acupuncture treatments) is normally required. It is important to remember that everyone is an individual and heals at different rates. Your treatment plan will be determined and discussed with your practitioner during your first visit.
The frequency of acupuncture and herbal medicine sessions can be viewed as being similar to psycho-emotional therapy modalities. A weekly appointment can bring about the therapeutic benefits. A one-time visit, as in western biomedicine, is not a correct analogy and usually offers little relief.
Many health plans include acupuncture as a benefit. If you would like more information whether or not your insurance covers acupuncture, we recommend you call the number on your insurance card and ask. If you plan to seek reimbursement from your insurance company, please pay the full amount and we will provide a fapiao and medical report with official chop for you to submit to your insurance company.
Children as young as one month can be effectively treated using shonishin, a Japanese technique. Instead of inserting needles, practitioners of shonishin employ light tapping, brushing, or rubbing along entire channels or at specific acupuncture points. Because children are quite sensitive and have a lot of energy, shonishin can be very effective in balancing children and restoring their natural state of health without using needles. Shonishin can be generally be used on children up to age 7. After the age of 7-8, we find that using acupuncture needles are more effective. Common childhood conditions that we treat include digestive disorders, asthma, bedwetting, constipation, diarrhea, eczema, insomnia, hyperactivity, emotional stress, headaches, teething and seasonal allergies.
Today, acupuncturists are trained in accredited graduate programs and are licensed by the local municipal government. Some physicians, chiropractors and physical therapists offer treatments known as “medical acupuncture” or “dry needling”, a modality based on a much shorter course of study. While an accredited, masters-level program in acupuncture includes more than 3,000 hours of study, programs for physicians or chiropractors offer only about 200 hours in needling techniques. In the USA, acupuncturists should be certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, (NCCAOM), a national organization established to regulate the practice of acupuncture. After passing national examinations, these acupuncturists are designated as board certified in acupuncture or diplomates of the NCCAOM (Dipl. Ac.).
Acupuncturists who graduate from accredited programs have completed an extensive course of study in Oriental Medicine as well as in Western biomedical approaches to illness. We strongly recommend looking for a practitioner with formal training, national certification, and an active license to practice Oriental Medicine (acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine).
Yes! Our mission is to offer affordable health care to the English-speaking community of Shanghai and we are proud of our affordable and effective treatments.