Who is a candidate for Acupuncture?

Having been used all over Asia in one form or another for thousands of years, East Asian medicine has been the primary form of health care for roughly a fifth of the world’s population for much of human history. Many patients in North America are now seeking to broaden their treatment options including acupuncture and other modalities of East Asian medicine for safe and effective care of a wide range of ailments. Acupuncture is currently used as a primary health care system throughout the world and is now licensed in over 40 states in the United States.  There is virtually no one that can’t benefit from this medicine.

What is the intended result of Acupuncture?

The basis of acupuncture is the balancing, strengthening, and harmonizing of the body’s innate healing tendencies.  It is used for preventative maintenance, to treat many common health conditions and speed the recovery from traumatic injury.  The treatment of pain is the most well-known and documented use of acupuncture, though patients with virtually all forms of illness report benefits from its use since its focus is on correcting underlying imbalance and not just on fighting a specific illness or symptom.  

The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture’s ability to treat over 200 commonly encountered clinical disorders.

Research has also been done to investigate changes that occur in the body in response to acupuncture treatment. There is solid evidence that the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, is one of the effects of treatment. This helps to explain acupuncture’s profound effect of relieving pain. Another measurable change during a treatment is a steep increase in the production of white blood cells, one of the markers for measuring the health of the body’s immune system. Maintaining normal levels of white blood cells is associated with an increased resistance to bacterial and viral infection. Changes in many other chemicals have also been seen, for example increases in neurotransmitters and hormonal activity have also been noted. These changes may help to explain how acupuncture enhances the body’s ability to correct many kinds of imbalance.

Typical First Acupuncture visit

Your first acupuncture session will include a thorough medical history interview before the actual treatment to determine your underlying constitution as well as the nature of your current concern.  I might use a variety of techniques to arrive at your diagnosis:  feeling the pulse, looking at the tongue, maybe palpating tender points along the body. This information enables me to diagnose the imbalances causing your symptoms.

During a typical treatment, four to twenty needles are inserted into specific points that may be dispersed throughout the body. Each point has a unique function to affect the physiology of the body. The points most often used are located on the forearms, hands, legs and feet. Most people find acupuncture a deeply relaxing and soothing experience as they become more balanced with each treatment.

You may feel a relaxing warmth spread through part or all of the body, pressure, tingling, itching or buzzing in the local area and often along the pathway being stimulated. Often you don’t feel the needle insertion at all! The treatment usually lasts 20-40 minutes and at the end the acupuncturist will discuss a strategy for future treatments, if necessary.

Some patients are uneasy with acupuncture because of their unpleasant experiences with much thicker hypodermic needles. Acupuncture needles are hair thin and don’t tear thru tissue or inject substances; which is the cause of discomfort.  Licensed acupuncturists receive a minimum of three years’ master’s degree training and develop great skill in providing a comfortable treatment using sterile, single use disposable needles. Usually, after the first treatment or two, even the apprehensive begin to look forward to treatments as a time to relax and unwind.


How are acupuncturists trained and licensed?
Today, most acupuncturists graduate from a school that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), which is recognized by the US Department of Education to set standards for professional education. An acupuncturist’s education usually includes course work in diagnosis, pathology, therapeutics, and acupuncture techniques including electro-acupuncture, as well as training in Western sciences such as: anatomy, physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, pathology, Western clinical sciences, needle hygiene and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Extensive clinical rounds and supervised practice are essential pieces of the professional degree program.

The State of Washington Department of Health (DOH) currently requires passing the Board Examination of the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) to become a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.). This examination is used by nearly all states regulating the profession of acupuncture. To ensure proper needling hygiene, Washington State also requires that all acupuncturists receive Clean Needle Technique certification as approved by the NCCAOM.


Does Insurance cover Acupuncture?
Most health insurance plans cover your acupuncture visits.  If your symptoms are the result of an automobile accident, you can receive acupuncture treatments through the “PIP” (Personal Injury Protection) of your auto insurance policy.