What does Chinese Medicine treat?

The sort answer... everything*

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the second most widely used medical system in the world after Western medicine (biomedicine) and is fully integrated with biomedicine in most Asian countries.

Acupuncture is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as being proven effective for the treatment of a wide variety of conditions. See a list here. This list was last updated in 2004. Since then research has provided evidence for acupuncture’s benefits for other conditions as well.

Acupuncture is recommended as a first-line treatment for migraines and musculoskeletal pain by American Family Physicians (AFP) as an alternative to opioids. One barrier to the more frequent use of acupuncturists is the limited number of acupuncturists in practice in the US.

Hundreds of Chinese herbal prescriptions have demonstrated therapeutic value in thousands of peer-reviewed studies published globally in medical journals.

No one treatment or medicine is effective 100% of the time, but TCM has a long history (over 2000 years) of restoring health and reducing pain safely.

*Treating cancer is not within the scope of practice for licensed acupuncturists in the U.S.

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What is getting acupuncture like?

Expect to fully relax and enjoy “a needle nap”
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Your first appointment includes a thorough history with a review of symptoms.

Then you will lie down on a comfortable, warm, adjustable table. The provider will feel your pulse rate and quality, look at your tongue, and gently palpate your abdomen and areas of concern. This assessment is used to determine a TCM Pattern Diagnosis. The pattern guides the treatment.

Typically 7 to 24 extremely thin acupuncture needles are placed. You then rest for 20 - 40 minutes. If a back treatment is prescribed, the points are removed after 20 minutes and you turn over for another set. The location, number of points, and timing are all guided by the intention of that treatment. Depending on your needs for that day, other techniques may be used like gua sha, cupping, e-stim, moxa, or tui na massage.

What will I feel?

More relaxed

Most of the time you won’t feel the needle at all. However, pain is subjective and sometimes people experience discomfort. The goal is for you to relax fully, or even fall asleep while resting on the table.

Sensations people experience have been described as a dull ache, a zing, heaviness, tingling, rushing, heat, or pulsing, for example. These feelings are normal and no cause for concern. If a sensation is strong and you cannot relax, ask for the point to be adjusted for your comfort.

A brief tiny bug bite sensation on insertion may occur if the point is near a small blood vessel or if sweat or lotion causes brief irritation.

Patients leave the office feeling deeply relaxed and yet energized. Any pain you came in with is often gone, reduced, or will subside over the next few hours.

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How many treatments will I need?

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Acupuncture nudges the body towards balance or homeostasis. How many treatments and how often depends on the condition of your body and your body’s response. If the symptom is simple and with a recent onset relief can be immediate and only a few treatments are needed.

If you are depleted or have been diagnosed with a genetic, chronic, or autoimmune condition that has been in place for years or even decades, long-term and regular treatments, as well as herbs, will be recommended.

Once symptoms are resolving, the frequency of visits can be reduced. Your provider will regularly evaluate your progress and review your care plan with you.

What is the training for a Doctorate in Chinese Medicine?

Doctorates of Chinese Medicine in the US are achieved with 4 years of full-time (3800 hours) study including 1000 clinical hours and 350 individual patient treatments under supervision. Programs include anatomy and physiology, pathology, biomedical sciences, pharmacology, research, point location and function, needle techniques, herbal prescriptions, manual therapies, self-cultivation, nutrition, safety and ethics, business, therapeutic communication, and more.

Colleges are accredited by the Western or Eastern Association of Schools and Colleges and the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). After passing rigorous National exams, your provider was certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). 60 hours of Continuing Education is required every 4 years to maintain certification.


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Should I take a Chinese Herbal Formula?

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A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) formula can support and speed up the healing process.

TCM herbs and formulas are very different than Western herbs and pharmaceuticals. First, they are rarely given as a single plant or substance but combined to be synergistic, and far less likely to cause side effects or damage if well prescribed.

Second, the TCM herbal pharmacopeia dates back thousands of years. Some common formulas in use today are translated from 2000-year-old texts, so their effectiveness and safety in humans are well-tested and documented! There are thousands of randomized, controlled studies on contemporary formulations as well.

Third, the intention of TCM formulas, like acupuncture, is to create homeostasis. They are given for a few days to a few months and modified as symptoms change.

Contemporary herbs and formulas are rigorously sourced and tested for contaminants and potency of the active ingredients. Laboratory and clinical research throughout the world has identified hundreds of active compounds in the Chinese formulary that help further explain their use and effectiveness.