Is acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine appropriate for my condition?

Because traditional Chinese medicine is a complete medical system in its own right, it can address most health conditions. Sharon makes herself available for a complementary 20 minute phone consultation, or she can be reached via email. Feel free to discuss your health concern and see if acupuncture and Chinese medicine is appropriate for your condition.

What is the difference between acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine?

Although many people make the assumption that acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are one and in the same, acupuncture is simply one of a number of effective tools used by a Chinese medicine practitioner to strengthen and heal the body, mind and spirit.

Does acupuncture hurt?

It is understandable to be apprehensive about the insertion of needles. Acupuncture needles cause minimal to no pain. They are very different than the hypodermic needles used at the doctor’s office to vaccinate or draw blood. Acupuncture needles are hair-thin, sterile and disposable. After insertion, patients often report sensations of tingling, warmth, or heaviness but rarely pain. Many patients report feeling a sense of deep relaxation or increased energy after a treatment. Sometimes the therapeutic changes are not felt until hours or days after a treatment.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is extremely safe when administered by a qualified and licensed professional. In fact, when practiced correctly, acupuncture is associated with no side-effects nor iatrogenic (doctor-caused) diseases. Thin, sterile needles are used and disposed of after each use so there is minimal to no risk of infection. Considering the millions of people who are treated with acupuncture each year and the large number of acupuncture needles used, very few complications have been reported to the FDA.

What should I expect during my first visit?

It is best to arrive 10-15 minutes early to your first appointment so that you can fill out the necessary paperwork before beginning your session. The first treatment lasts ninety minutes to two hours. The session begins with a discussion of your chief complaint and a comprehensive health history. This is followed by a physical exam consisting of tongue examination, pulse examination, meridian and/or abdominal palpation. After a diagnosis and treatment plan are established, acupuncture and/or medical massage is administered. If necessary, an herbal formula is prescribed.

What is a typical acupuncture treatment like?

After a thorough inquiry into the health concern and a physical examination, the patient rests on a massage table and approximately 1-16 sterile, disposable needles are inserted into different points on the body, depending on the condition. Needles are usually inserted in the extremities of the body as these often have a very strong therapeutic effect. The patient rests with inserted needles for 20-30 minutes in order to allow the treatment to take effect. Certain conditions may call for other Chinese medical techniques such as tuina (Chinese medical massage), moxibustion (heat therapy), cupping and/or guasha (impurity releasing therapies).

What is a normal course of treatment?

The number of treatments varies depending on the severity and duration of the condition as well as the strength and constitution of the patient. In general, acute conditions may take just a few treatments while chronic conditions may take longer to treat. Most patients, however, report feeling changes immediately after one acupuncture treatment. Weekly treatments are advised although some acute cases may require 2-3 treatments a week at the beginning of a course of treatment.

Acupuncture has a cumulative effect. Once symptoms improve and overall harmony and balance are reached, treatments are reduced to once every other week and eventually once a month or less to maintain health and prevent reoccurrence. After the completion of your first visit, the recommended length of treatment will be discussed with you.

Can Chinese medicine be used in conjunction with western medicine?

Absolutely. While Chinese medicine is a comprehensive medical system that can address many health concerns on its own, it can also work synergistically with western medicine and other modalities of healthcare. Sharon works collaboratively with many of her patients’ other healthcare providers.

Is herbal medicine safe?

Chinese herbal medicine is very safe and virtually free of side-effect when prescribed by a well-trained professional. Western pharmaceutical drugs can be fast-acting but sometimes exact a toll. Pharmaceuticals often have side effects that can throw off the internal balance of the body. Western drugs can cause other health problems like weight gain, temperature fluctuation, mood changes, dry mouth, nausea, loss of appetite, pain, headaches, body twitching, decreased libido, etc. Because Chinese herbal medicine is usually prescribed as a combination of multiple herbs called a ‘formula’, each herb is specifically chosen to bolster each other’s effects or counteract possible side effects. Formulas can therefore have strong therapeutic effects without disrupting the body’s balance or creating other health problems. Formulas also allow for various symptoms to be treated at once. Specific herbs are often added to the formula to aid in digestion so that the medicine can be assimilated efficiently. In general, traditional Chinese herbs have much lower toxicity than many Western pharmaceutical drugs.

How are Chinese herbs administered?

Chinese herbal medicine can be taken internally as a tea, powder, tincture or pill and externally as an ointment, lotion, wash or poultice. The classical administration of Chinese herbs is as a tea. With this method, each bag of dried herbs last 1-2 days and is boiled, strained and the liquid divided into 2-3 portions for daily ingestion. Tea is a very effective means of administration because it can be readily and efficiently assimilated into the body. At times, other methods of ingestion are more appropriate and you will be advised in these circumstances.

How does practicing qi gong differ from going to the gym?

In Chinese medicine and martial arts, qi gong is considered a ‘soft’ exercise. While there are ‘hard’ exercises like running, swimming, or biking, which raise your heart rate and develop muscle, these exercises can deplete valuable energy sources if pushed too hard. Qi gong is meant to build and reserve energy rather than expend it. Well-trained martial artists know that both hard and soft exercises are equally important to building strength and endurance. Qi gong can be practiced on its own for health maintenance as well as be a compliment to your regular exercise routine. For many athletes, qi gong can be the key to getting the most out of their training. If appropriate, Sharon can teach you simple qi gong exercises that can assist in your wellness and recovery.

Do you accept insurance?

Five Seasons Healing is an in-network provider with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) and Cigna as well as an out-of-network provider with most other insurance companies.  If acupuncture is covered by your plan, we can bill directly with your insurance company. As a courtesy to our patients, we are happy to help check for insurance coverage details.  Five Seasons Healing can also issue you a bill with appropriate diagnostic coding which can be submitted to your insurance company for reimbursement.