Frequently Asked Questions
What is Chinese Medicine?
Chinese Medicine (also known as traditional Chinese or Oriental medicine) is a comprehensive medical system that has been treating disease and illness naturally and effectively for over 3000 years. It addresses not only your physical symptoms, but also seeks to find the root cause of illness by exploring the relationship of environment, diet, exercise and emotions to your physical health and well-being. Treatment can include acupuncture, herbs, bodywork, nutrition and exercise based on traditional eastern principles of balance and synergy in the body. These therapies work to enhance the flow of vital energy inherent within all living things, encouraging the body to heal itself and function optimally. The larger goal of Chinese Medicine is to prevent illness and improve the quality of life long-term.
How does Acupuncture work?
The general theory of acupuncture, at a very basic level, is that every living being possesses a universal life energy called Qi (pronounced “chee”). This energy circulates throughout the body along pathways, or channels called meridians. Meridians connect to specific internal organs in the body and provide balance, regulation, and coordination of body processes. Pain and illness result when the flow of Qi through the body is disrupted or blocked, and this can be caused by many things, including pathogens, trauma, injuries, medication, as well as lifestyle factors such as overwork, poor diet, emotions, lack of rest and stress.
Meridians come to the surface of the skin at specific points on the body called acu-points. Scientific research has discovered that these points display a variety of unique bioelectric properties and stimulation with needles, heat or finger pressure can help to adjust the body’s energy flow, triggering the immune system and pain regulating mechanisms. In other words, acupuncture assists the body in healing itself.
In Western medical theory, acupuncture appears to work by stimulating parts of the brain and body to release natural biomolecules such as neurotransmitters, vasodilators, and hormones. The exact mechanisms that bring this about are not completely understood, but the effects are measurable and documented.
For example, studies have shown that using acupuncture to induce labor reduces the active (painful) phase of labor by an average of 3.6 hours
- Strengthens immunity against disease
- Regulates hormones
- Improves circulation
- Resolves pain
- Speeds healing following injury or surgical procedures
- Promotes relaxation
- Treats emotional issues
- Encourages a feeling of well-being
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Everyone experiences acupuncture differently, but most find it to be extremely calming and revitalizing. Acupuncture is nothing like receiving a shot or injection. The needles I use are less than the diameter of a human hair, resulting in very little discomfort when inserted. The needles you’re used to? Those hypodermic ones you get at the doctor’s office? You could stuff 6-8 acupuncture needles into the shaft one of those needles. Many patients become very relaxed and fall into a restorative sleep during their treatment.
If you prefer, I may be able to use alternatives to needles, such as acupressure, magnetic cupping therapy, or herbs to help your condition.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Yes, when performed by a competently trained, licensed professional, acupuncture is extremely safe. Each point on the body is first swabbed with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball to clean dirt and oil from the skin prior to inserting needles. All acupuncturists in Wisconsin are required to use individually packaged, sterile, single-use disposable needles so there is virtually no chance of infection or contagion. Every licensed acupuncturist also receives extensive training in anatomy so they avoid inserting a needle in a place that can cause damage.
Do you have to believe in Acupuncture for it to work?
No. Chinese Medicine is a medical practice, not a belief system. Acupuncture and herbs work whether you believe in them or not. Animals respond remarkably well to acupuncture without understanding or believing any of it! Of course, having a positive attitude that you will indeed feel better is important to healing in general. When all other treatment methods have failed, this indicates a systematic imbalance – exactly what acupuncture and herbs excel at treating.
What kind of medical training do Acupuncturists receive?
In Wisconsin, Acupuncture is a four year Master of Science program with training in both Western medical sciences (anatomy, chemistry, physiology, biology, pharmacology, etc.) and Chinese Medicine including acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition and a variety of other subjects. Most programs require 2500-3000 hours of training at specialized colleges of Oriental Medicine, which are accredited by the State of Wisconsin and the national certification organization (NCCAOM). To receive their license, Wisconsin acupuncturists must pass a rigorous state board exam which includes western and eastern diagnostics and pharmacology. They are also required to complete 50 continuing education units every two years to maintain their acupuncture license.
If you're considering "dry needling," a relatively new technique performed by PTs and Chiropractors, I'd strongly encourage you read this for further information regarding the differentiation between the two modalities.
Can I benefit from Acupuncture even when I’m not sick?
Yes. Anyone can benefit from an acupuncture treatment as part of an ongoing health maintenance program. In today’s fast-paced society, the effects of environmental stresses and toxins alone tend to build up over time. Acupuncture is an effective way to rebalance the body and reverse the effects of these stresses. Just as you would go to your general practitioner for a check up, you can come in for seasonal acupuncture treatments as a tune-up to prevent getting sick.
Will my health insurance pay for acupuncture?
Roots Acupuncture Center does not currently bill insurance directly, but would be happy to provide you with a receipt that you can submit directly to your insurance provider if your plan allows for acupuncture reimbursal.
What can acupuncture treat?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture and Chinese Medicine’s ability to treat more than 43 commonly encountered clinical disorders:
Food allergies, peptic ulcer, constipation, chronic diarrhea, indigestion, gastrointestinal weakness, anorexia, and gastritis
Stress incontinence, urinary tract infections and sexual dysfunction
Including irregular, heavy or painful menstruation, PMS, infertility in women and men, menopausal symptoms, childbirth and lactation support
Emphysema, sinusitis, asthma, allergies and bronchitis
Disorders of the Bones, Muscles, Joints and Nervous System
Arthritis, neuralgia, migraine headaches, insomnia, dizziness, tendonitis, tennis elbow, low back, neck and shoulder pain, sciatica, whiplash, sports injuries
Hypertension, stroke, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis, anemia, edema
Emotional and Psychological Disorders
Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), mania, anxiety, stress and grief
Alcohol, nicotine, and many types of drug addiction
Eye, ear, and throat disorders including cold and flu relief, immune system dysfunctions.