Acupuncture Q & A's
1.What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest, continually-practiced healing techniques in the
world. In Chinese Medicine it’s understood that there is a vital energy which fills
our body called Qi (pronounced “Chee”). Qi is said to flow along pathways known as
meridians. This Qi is what acupuncture accesses and stimulates, thus facilitating the
body’s ability to heal itself.
In Chinese Medicine, disease is considered to be the result of imbalance in the energy,
and therefore, function of the internal organs. Pain is considered to be a disruption
of the proper flow of Qi and blood in local areas of the body. Acupuncture uses fine
needles, the size of a hair, painlessly inserted at key points along the meridians to
relieve pain and to correct disease and dysfunction. Acupuncture accomplishes this by
encouraging the return of optimal balance and harmony to the body, and invigorating
the circulation of Qi and blood. Acupuncture, in the hands of a skilled therapist, is used
to help the body to heal itself more effectively.
2. How does acupuncture work?
Many people who have experienced the therapeutic effects of acupuncture will vow
that it is truly effective. There are two primary explanations to this question. One is the
traditional Chinese theory and the other offers a Western scientific hypothesis.
The Traditional Chinese understanding of how acupuncture works is described as
the balancing of Qi, or energy, in the body through the stimulation of specific points
along energy pathways known as meridians, which flow throughout the body. When
the energy is stuck in certain areas, we feel that as pain. When there is too much or
too little energy in certain organs, creating disharmony, we experience this as various symptoms of disease or discomfort. Acupuncture is seen to open up blockages and restore the correct circulation in an area where the Qi and blood are stagnant. It also releases energy in organs where there is too much and helps bring energy into areas and organs which don’t have enough. It therefore restores balance and harmony to the organs which allows the natural healing powers of the body to get the support they need
to bring you back to health.
From a Western scientific standpoint there is no one single theory that explains all of
the physiological mechanisms underlying the effects of acupuncture. This is because
acupuncture has a wide variety of therapeutic effects on the body. This makes it difficult
to say just what the active underlying mechanism of acupuncture is from a scientific
standpoint. Commonly, it is proposed that acupuncture primarily produces its effects
through regulating the nervous system. Regulation of the nervous system aids the
activity of pain-killing bio-chemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells. In
addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing
the release of neurotransmitters and neuro-hormones. These effect the parts of the
central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as
immune reactions and processes that regulate a person’s blood pressure, blood flow,
and body temperature. The effects of an acupuncture treatment are still too diverse to
3. What to expect from the initial visit?
The initial 90 minute session begins with a consultation to discuss the patient’s health
history and their main complaint. Acupuncture treats the entire being as a whole not
just the symptoms presented in order to bring balance back to the body. After the
consult the patient will lay face up on the massage table where I will take their pulse,
look at their tongue and/or palpate their abdomen. Very fine needles will then be
inserted along the acupuncture pathways at various areas of the body, depending on
the diagnosis. The needles generally stay in for 25-35 minutes and the front and back
of the body may both be worked on. Additional adjunctive techniques may also be
incorporated into the treatment. While the needles are in the patient may feel a "qi
response" at the insertion point. This may be a heavy senstion, movement, warmth,
tingling, a dull ache or numbness. Most people feel extremely relaxed and may even fall
4. Does Insurance Cover Acupuncture?
Some insurance plans do cover acupuncture treatments under a Health Savings Account
expense. Please contact your carrier to see if acupuncture is accepted.
Medicare and Medicaid are not covered at this time.
5. What if I’m afraid of needles?
Acupuncture needles are much thinner than standard hypodermic needles, in fact,
they are as thin as a hair. The needles used at Serenity are FDA approved, sterile, single-use disposable needles that are tapped very quickly into the superficial layer
of skin. Many patients barely feel the needle insertion and even those who dislike
needles commonly find it to be a painless and stress free experience.
6. How many treatments will I need?
This is unique to the individual. Generally, it is recommended to come for 4-6 sessions
to get a better idea of what will be best for your body. For most chronic conditions,
I recommend weekly treatments to offer the best outcome. Some people notice an
immediate improvement in their health while for others acupuncture tends to have a
cumulative effect over several visits. To provide you with realistic expectations, many
factors affecting your recovery time must be taken into consideration.
The following factors as well as your individual health goals also play an important role
in the frequency and duration of your care:
* acute vs. chronic pain
* first episode or recurrent problem
* history of previous injuries
* general health & fitness
* lifestyle (work, diet, sleep, stress)
* compliance with recommendations
* family history
7. What should I look for in an Acupuncturist?
A minimum of a Masters Degree in Oriental/Chinese Medicine from an
accredited school with a NCCAOM board certification.
MAOM-Masters Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine
MAc-Masters in Acupuncture
MSTOM – Masters Traditional Oriental Medicine
MSTCM – Masters Traditional Chinese Medicine
Diplomate -National Certification for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (Dipl. Ac)
*NCCAOM Certification indicates the practitioner has met national standards
for the safe and competent practice of acupuncture as defined by the profession.
National board certification in acupuncture has been the mark of excellence in
acupuncture since the inception of the Commission. www.nccaom.org
Doula Q & A's
1. What is a Doula?
The word, “doula,” comes from Ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves.” The
term “birth doula” is now used to refer to a person professionally trained to provide
continuous physical, emotional and informational support before, during and
immediately after childbirth. Doulas are, above all else, trained to be a healing presence
for the laboring mother, her partner and family.
2. What can a Doula do for me?
Studies have shown that women supported by a Doula during labor have:
50% reduction in cesarean birth
25% shorter labor
60% reduction in epidural requests
40% reduction in Pitocin use
30% reduction in analgesia use
40% reduction in forceps delivery (-Klaus, Kennell, & Klaus, The Doula Book 2003)
3. I already have a doctor or midwife. Why would I want a doula at my birth?
Doctors and midwives are medical professionals and simply do not have the time to
give the laboring mother undivided attention and support. By hiring a doula, you can
be assured that you have the emotional and physical support you need, when you need
it. Having a doula also allows the mother’s partner to rest or participate at their comfort
level. Studies have shown that doula-attended births are shorter and have fewer
complications. Mothers report a greater satisfaction with their birth experiences, and
babies born with doulas present tend to have shorter hospital stays and breastfeed more
easily. Studies also showed a reduced need for pitocin (a labor inducing/enhancing
drug), reduced request incidences for pain medications and epidurals, and reduced
incidences of cesareans.
4. What’s the difference between a Doula and a Midwife?
Doulas do not perform medical tasks. We are there to offer you information,
encouragement and physical and emotional support. Midwives are medically trained
and licensed professionals who, by law, may perform exams, administer medications,
suture and evaluate the medical condition of mom and baby.
5. Why do I need a Doula if I’ve decided to get an epidural?
Many women assume that having an epidural means that you just sit back and relax
through your labor. This is far from accurate. It is not unusual for women who receive
epidurals to still experience physical discomfort or even pain. If that happens, having
a doula familiar with these kinds of issues can be helpful. Often your Doctor will want
you to be dilated to 4-5 cm before administrating pain medication. (The risks that go
along with having an epidural become higher the longer it’s in place.) This can take
several hours of active labor. Once an epidural is requested it may also take time for an
anesthesiologist to become available. Your doula will be there to give emotional and
physical support and to help explain the procedures that go along with an epidural (IV,
catheter, monitors, etc.) Once the epidural is in place, you will be restricted to bed, but
will still need to change positions frequently to help move the baby down the birth canal.
You will also experience the emotional impact of the labor as your body moves through
the process. You may get discouraged, fearful, tired or weepy. An epidural may also
slow your progress, and the doula can stay with you while other family members or
support persons take a break or catch a nap