Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine FAQs

Acupuncture is an ancient holistic healing therapy that is part of the wide scope of Chinese Medicine. The core theory of this medicine is that pain and illness arise from an imbalance of energy (or Qi- pronounced Chee) flowing through channels that travel all along the body. By inserting tiny, sterilized and disposable needles into certain acupuncture points on the body, practitioners can redirect the flow of Qi to rebalance the body and promote optimal health.

Other aspects of Chinese Medicine include massage therapy, acupressure, cupping, gua sha, herbal therapy, nutritional therapy, magnetic therapy, lifestyle counseling, and breathing techniques.

Acupuncture is an ancient holistic healing therapy that is part of the wide scope of Chinese Medicine. The core theory of this medicine is that pain and illness arise from an imbalance of energy (or Qi- pronounced Chee) flowing through channels that travel all along the body. By inserting tiny, sterilized and disposable needles into certain acupuncture points on the body, practitioners can redirect the flow of Qi to rebalance the body and promote optimal health.

Other aspects of Chinese Medicine include massage therapy, acupressure, cupping, gua sha, herbal therapy, nutritional therapy, magnetic therapy, lifestyle counseling, and breathing techniques.

There are more clinical studies being done today than ever before to determine exactly how acupuncture works. We now know that stimulation of acupuncture points by needles affects the body on a biochemical and physiological level through sensory receptors. These sensory receptors stimulate nerves that transmit signals to the hypothalamic-pituitary system in the brain which then releases other neurotransmitters and endorphins.

Endorphins are the brain’s “natural pain-killers” which explain acupuncture’s role in pain disorders including back pain, PMS, arthritis, etc… Additionally, these chemicals help to regulate our emotional state and aid in reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. Furthermore, increased stress levels lead to increased cortisol levels, and increased cortisol levels lead to inflammation in the body and (subsequently) the vast majority of popular “Western”diseases. Through maintenance of your body with acupuncture, you ARE take a huge step in preventing illness.

Other researched physiological effects of acupuncture include increased circulation and proper nerve conduction, decreased inflammation, relief of muscle spasms, and increased levels of T-cells (immune system stimulants).

No. Acupuncture, when done correctly, should not hurt. In fact, most people fall asleep during treatment. Acupuncture needles are not hollow and are no thicker than a human hair so the sensation is very different than a regular injection. You may feel a slight tap as the needle is inserted through the skin and nothing to a slight (and pleasant) achiness. That achiness is what practitioners call “Capturing the Qi.” You should let your practitioner know if a needle ever feels sharp or burns after it has been inserted. This just means that it needs to be re-inserted and is not a cause for concern.

Loose fitting “yoga-style” clothes are best. However, your practitioner can always cover you with towels or sheets if that is not possible.

Needle depth depends on the acupuncture point being used as well as the size, age, and constitution of the patient. Additionally, some practitioners may needle deeper than others depending on the style of their training. In general, needles are inserted between 1/8 and 1 inch deep.

A licensed acupuncturist who is “Clean Needle Technique” certified will always use disposable and sterile needles. Feel free to ask the receptionist or practitioner if he or she has that certification.

This question is always answered on a case-by-case basis. While some acute conditions can be resolved quickly, other chronic conditions may require more visits as well as maintenance “tune-ups” after symptoms reside. During your initial consultation, your practitioner should discuss a proper treatment plan with you.

You should feel very calm and grounded to slightly drowsy. Very rarely, symptoms flair slightly after a treatment as energy (or Qi) continues to harmonize properly within the body.

After your treatment you should let your body’s energy continue to harmonize by resting. Avoid vigorous exercise, alcohol, stressful situations and large/unhealthy meals.

Fees can vary with different practitioners.  We’re happy to discuss our acupuncture fee schedule, including insurance rates and “time-of-service” rates during your initial consultation or by phone.

Insurance companies are beginning to pay for acupuncture. Debra Kuhn, L. Ac., Dipl. OM is an out-of-network provider which means that your insurance company will pay if you have out-of-network benefits. We will gladly file your paperwork for you or give you a superbill to submit to your insurance company.

No. Acupuncture is extremely effective for dogs, cats, and horses… none of which believe in acupuncture. It is not necessary to “believe” in it in order to see the treatments work. It is important, however, to let both your doctor and acupuncturist know what prescriptions and/or herbs you are currently taking to avoid interactions.

Licensed acupuncturists have completed a minimum of 4 years of full-time study dedicated to learning acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Doctors and chiropractors, for the most part, learn the basics of acupuncture with elective courses. We always recommend using a licensed acupuncturist for the best results.

First of all, you should always choose someone that you trust and feel comfortable with. Make sure that they have received their certification through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and that they are licensed by your state if applicable. They should be “Clean Needle Technique” certified and hold a Masters Degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine. Lastly, their name should be followed by an L. Ac. at the very least.

Debra Kuhn, L. Ac, Dipl. OM, FABORM is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in both Colorado and California. After receiving her B.A. from NYU University, she attended a 4-year Masters Degree Program at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine. She is NCCAOM and “Clean Needle Technique” certified.