What to expect at your first acupuncture visit
During your first visit (up to 90 minutes), your provider will take a detailed health history, make a comprehensive assessment and create an individualized treatment plan. During the intake, your symptoms, potential causative mechanisms and any treatment you’ve received so far will be discussed. Diet, digestive system functioning, sleep patterns, emotional states and other pertinent information will be addressed as well. Chinese medical pulse and tongue diagnosis will be taken and analyzed. The comprehensive assessment will result in an individualized diagnosis and treatment plan for your specific condition, which the provider will explain to you in detail. Your treatment plan may include recommendations for any or all of the following modalities described in greater detail below: acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy, cupping, moxibustion, gua sha or a referral for chiropractic or massage.
On your first visit, please plan to arrive 30 minutes early in order to fill out new patient paperwork. If you prefer, you may instead download it from our website, fill it out prior to your arrival and arrive at the time of your scheduled appointment. Be sure to bring your insurance information and claim number (for motor vehicle accident or worker’s compensation claims) with you.
Acupuncture facilitates the body’s natural healing abilities by the insertion of hair-thin, sterile, single use needles into precise acupuncture points. Acupuncture improves the circulation of vital energy, called ‘qi’ which moves throughout the body along specific pathways called meridians. Balanced, harmonious flow of energy (qi) in the body is associated with health and vitality. In contrast, impediments to this flow of energy cause imbalance and blockages that disrupt the system, resulting in various forms of pathology. By methodically stimulating specific acupoints along these lines of energy flow (meridians), acupuncture supports the body’s return to natural balance. In doing so, healthy, vital functioning of the system is restored.
Chinese Medicine’s method of differentiating the root causes of disease and treating the whole individual is fundamentally distinct from the common Western Medical model of pharmaceutical and surgical intervention to treat the symptom or ‘branch.’ This distinction is what makes standardized clinical studies and trials (that are randomized and double blind by design) in acupuncture difficult to perform. Even with this inherent difficulty, there is significant evidence to support many positive results from acupuncture treatment including:
- Neuro-chemical and hormonal changes
- Muscular, vascular and skin changes by increasing circulation
- Decrease in inflammation & relief from pain
- Relief of muscle spasms
- Increase in T-cell count to stimulate the immune system
CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE
Herbal medicine is one of the most important and complex branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with evidence of its therapeutic roots extending back more than 5000 years. Herbal medicine has broad applications in regulating (yin/yang, cold/hot, excess/deficiency, dry/damp, full/empty) and nourishing the body.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine work synergistically to balance the body systems. While acupuncture influences the body’s innate self-healing mechanisms to restore balance, herbal medicine works on a more substantive level.
Empirically based clinical ‘trials’ have created the vast pharmacopoeia of plant, animal and mineral substances used by TCM practitioners to naturally promote health today. The herbs are primarily plant based, though some animal and mineral substances may also be used (Please let your practitioner know if you have any food restrictions or allergies).
Cupping is a therapeutic practice in which suction is applied to a glass cup placed on the skin for the purposes of moving stagnant blood and fluids from a problem area of the body. Cupping promotes blood circulation, decreases pain/muscle tonicity, repairs tissue and activates the lymphatic system. Cups are also used to treat internal conditions such as lung conditions with associated signs of a cold or phlegm. Asthma, for example, typically responds well to cups. Stationary cups typically remain on the body for up to 15 minutes while moving cups glide along the surface of skin.
Moxibustion (moxa) is a technique that involves burning of the herb mugwort, also known as artemesia vulgaris or ai ye in Chinese. The heat from Moxa, which facilitates healing by warming the meridians and points, penetrates joints and is an effective treatment for arthritis and joint-related pain. Moxibustion has a long history of use in folk medicine and is also used to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of qi, and maintain general health.
Western studies have shown moxibustion to be successful in turning breech babies into a normal head-down position prior to childbirth. A landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 found that up to 75% of women suffering from breech presentations before childbirth had fetuses that rotated to the normal position after receiving moxibustion at an acupuncture point on the Bladder meridian. Other studies have shown that moxibustion increases the movement of the fetus in pregnant women, and may reduce the symptoms of menstrual cramps when used in conjunction with traditional acupuncture.
NUTRITION, DIET AND LIFESTYLE COUNSELING
Chinese Medical theory promotes balance and moderation as the foundation for a healthy system and uses the rhythms of nature to guide its principles. Your acupuncturist will work closely with you to assess areas in your diet and lifestyle that would benefit from modifications. Based on your diagnosis, constitution and the season or weather, specific food recommendations may be made. Other nutritional and lifestyle recommendations may also be made to maximize your treatment efficacy.