Frequently Asked Questions

Oriental Medicine seeks to harmonize and rebalance the entire human system rather than to treat just symptoms. Since proper internal balance is considered to be the key to human health, OM strives to cure disease by restoring that balance and therefore allowing the body to repair itself. It's continuing medical goal is to detect and correct abnormalities before they cause permanent physical damage.

Acupuncture treatment is rendered based on an 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."

1) Come with any questions you have, we're here to help you.
2) Wear loose, comfortable clothing for easy access to acupuncture points.
3) Don't eat large meals just before or after your visit.
4) Refrain from overexertion, drugs, or alcohol for up to 6 hours after the visit.
5) Avoid stressful situation. Make time to relax and be sure to get plenty of rest.
6) Between visits, take notes of any changes that you may have experienced.

Needle size and insertion depth depend upon the nature of the problem. Also taken into consideration are: the patient's size, age, and constitution. 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.

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

At the time the needle is inserted, some may feel soreness or a slight pinch. Others may feel nothing. Common sensations around the needle include: tingling, electrical sensations that may travel above or below the needle, or a sense of distention 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.

At AAC we only use single-use, pre-sterilized, stainless steel needles. 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.

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. At AAC we 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.

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.

An office visit will last from 30 minutes to 1 hour. The needles, once inserted, will usually be left in place from 15 to 45 minutes. Ultimately, the session length depends on the technique and desired results.

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 may 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.

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.

The State of California leads the nation in the field of acupuncture. In 1978, we became the first state to license qualified practitioners as primary care providers. Following graduation from a CAB approved school, qualifying candidates must pass a comprehensive state-licensing exam.

As of 2007, California has licensed more than 11,000 acupuncturists (L.Ac.'s). Our state constitutes nearly half of the licensed acupuncturists in the country, and exceeds by more than four times the number of licensed acupuncturists in the state of New York.

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 through the California Acupuncture Board. As such, their training in Oriental medicine and acupuncture is most likely significantly less.

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.

Increasingly, acupuncture is complementing conventional therapies. For example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control surgery- related pain in their patients. Scientific studies 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. More and more MDs are becoming educated on the potential that acupuncture holds in the treatment of conditions that do not respond well to conventional therapies.

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