What is Acupuncture and what does it do?
Acupuncture is a system of health care that has been developed, refined, and practiced in China for over the past 4,000 years. It involves the superficial insertion of hair-thin needles into points on the body that have been proven to relieve pain and disease. In ancient times, acupuncture (along with herbal medicine) was used as the primary method of treating injuries and illness. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years for one simple reason….it works very well. Nowadays, most people come to an acupuncturist for medical problems that do not respond well to western medicine (ie. Drugs, surgery, pain killers, etc.).
How much of acupuncture is due to the “placebo effect”? Do I have to believe in it for it to work?
That’s a good question and many scientific studies have been done on this topic. While many studies say that acupuncture is a legitimate medical therapy, many also say that it is no better than a placebo. It depends on who funded the study, the skill level of the hired acupuncturist, and how it was conducted. What form of placebo was used (there are many kinds) and what kind of treatment outcomes were measured against the control group? Please remember that the “double-blind” experimental model used in American research was designed specifically for researching pharmaceutical drugs, not therapeutic services such as acupuncture. It’s like trying to use a stethoscope to measure the tire pressure in your car…it wasn’t meant for that and you won’t get accurate information.
Another problem with research studies is that acupuncture is just like any other form of skilled labor (i.e.: carpentry)…you have a huge variance in skill and quality depending upon the craftsperson and the quality of work they do.
That being said, I invite you to research the term “placebo” at www.wikipedia.org. You will find that according to scientific research standards, the placebo effect does not achieve more than a 30 percent success rate by definition. Our success rate at Natural Chinese Medicine is roughly over 90 percent as tracked by our patient files. So if what we are doing is in fact placebo…then it’s the best damn placebo in the world.
Please read my article entitled “How much of acupuncture is due to the placebo effect?” for more on this topic.
How does it work?
Does it hurt?
Different people have different perceptions of what constitutes “hurt”. That being said, the feedback we receive from our patients, including ones that went to other acupuncturists, is that our needling methods are virtually painless, strangely relaxing, and extremely comfortable.
I’d like to receive care at NCM but am terrified of needles. Do you have treatments that do not involve needles?
Yes. We also offer laser acupuncture using an infrared light. This is a painless option that is almost as effective as needle acupuncture. It often works just as well…but may take a little more time to see results.
Is acupuncture safe?
When performed by a licensed and properly trained practitioner, acupuncture is arguably the safest form of alternative health care available.
Do you use disposable needles?
Yes. At Natural Chinese Medicine we ONLY use disposable needles. Thus there is no risk of infection whatsoever.
How deep do the needles go in?
At our clinic we believe that the optimum needle depth for acupuncture is where the superficial nerve fibers of the skin are, so the needles are usually inserted anywhere from 1-3 millimeters…just barely beneath the skin. A millimeter is one-thousandth of a meter. This is dramatically different from some acupuncture styles that insert the needles anywhere from one to three inches deep.
Where do you usually put the needles?
Unlike traditional acupuncturists, we do not cover the body with dozens of needles. We practice a specialty form of acupuncture known as “Sujok” where most of the needles are painlessly placed on the surface of the hand or ankle.
What is “Sujok Acupuncture”?
“Sujok” is a specialty form of acupuncture created by a South Korean scientist named Professor Park Jae Woo. Sujok combines modern neurology with ancient Chinese meridian theory to produce treatment results that we find to be superior to regular acupuncture. A feature of Sujok is that it is performed only on the hands and feet (where the pressure points are more powerful) which makes it unbeatable in terms of patient comfort and safety.
While Sujok Acupuncture is very popular in Korea, Russia, and India, we are the ONLY full-time clinic in North America to exclusively offer the advanced levels of Sujok Acupuncture.
Is acupuncture compatible with the care that my Medical Doctor provides?
Yes, but please consult your physician if you have any doubts on this matter. Patients at our office are told that it is never required nor recommended that they discontinue regular care from their physician. We work with conventional medicine and not against it.
How is acupuncture licensed and regulated?
Acupuncture is a licensed and regulated health care profession in over 40 states in the U.S. This includes New York, New Jersey, and Conneticut. In addition, the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certifies both acupuncturists and Chinese herbal medicine practitioners. We are certified to practice both acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine by the NCCAOM and am licensed in the states of New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island to practice acupuncture.
What will I feel during an acupuncture session?
The most common feeling my patients have during acupuncture is one of profound relaxation. Many of them tell me they feel like taking a nap after acupuncture. Some patients feel a pleasant sensation of warmth in their body, and others feel nothing other than relief of the pain that they came in with.
What problems can be treated by acupuncture?
The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture’s effectiveness for over 40 common disorders, such as:
Back pain, neck pain, sciatica, arthritis, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, TMJ, carpel tunnel syndrome, knee pain, plantar fascitis, sports injuries
Paralysis, nerve damage, loss of strength, severe chronic pain, sensory loss, tremors, bell’s palsy, degenerative nervous system disorders (MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, etc.), eye and vision disorders, hearing loss, restless leg syndrome, trauma and injury rehabilitation.
Infertility, endometriosis, PMS, menstrual irregularity, menstrual cramps, menopausal syndrome, urinary tract infections, yeast infections
Hypothyroid, hyperthyroid, chronic fatigue, adrenal exhaustion, diabetes, loss of libido, sexual dysfunction (male and female), anxiety disorder, panic attacks.
Indigestion, IBS, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, ulcers, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome
Immune and Autoimmune disorders
Allergies, bronchitis, asthma, emphysema/COPD, eczema, psoriasis
Hypertension, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, angina pectoris
Chemotherapy and Radiation Support
Treatment of nausea, fatigue, constipation, pain, and other side effects of conventional cancer treatments.
From looking at this list it may seem that acupuncture can help almost anything. The reason for this is that when performed correctly, acupuncture treats the person and not just the disease. Please think about this because there is a HUGE difference between working towards strengthening a patient so that his entire body is functional and vibrant, versus just trying to alleviate a symptom. Although symptoms quickly resolve with our treatments, we do not merely treat symptoms. We restore balance and strength to the entire person.
Do you treat kids?
Yes. In fact, because of their young age and heightened self-healing ability, children respond to acupuncture and nutritional supplementation much faster than adults do. And of course, for kids who refuse to have needles, needle-free acupuncture is a painless and effective method of healing that works just as well. Please read our section on pediatric care for more information.
How many treatments will I need?
That depends on the duration, severity, and nature of your complaint. You may need only a single treatment for an acute condition. A series of 4-8 treatments may resolve many chronic problems. Some degenerative conditions such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis may require many treatments over time. To help reduce the number of treatments, we will often suggest specific nutritional supplements, Chinese herbal remedies, and dietary modifications all of which will help to increase the efficacy of acupuncture and accelerate the healing process.
After the initial visit, we will outline a treatment plan that includes when you can expect to feel better. If no improvement is seen by this time period, treatment is discontinued.
Do I need to keep coming to you after I feel better?
No. One of the fears that potential patients have with alternative medicine is that the practitioner will try to make them dependent upon coming in for regular care. We don’t do this.
Our feelings are that once you become healthy and functional again, you will stay healthy and functional as long as you follow two guidelines:
1. You avoid whatever habit or activity that originally caused your problem. In other words, you will be fine as long as you don’t re-injure yourself.
2. You follow some simple habits for healthy living that include eating properly, getting enough rest, exercising properly, and managing stress. If you don’t know how to do these things we will teach you while under our care.
Patients are discharged from care once they feel healthy again and are gradually weaned onto a health maintenance program which includes certain nutritional supplements as well as periodic check-up visits (anywhere from once every one to four months depending on the person.
How long is an average treatment?
For the first treatment we will need about 45 minutes to 1 hour of your time. This is needed to perform an exam of your problem, a comprehensive health history, nutritional or herbal counseling if needed, the actual acupuncture treatment, and then a report of findings so that you can understand what to expect from treatment and how long it will take for you to feel better.
For follow-up visits thereafter we will need 10 to 20 minutes of your time depending on what is being treated. Simple problems such as neck pain or knee pain will only need about 10 minutes while more complicated problems such as infertility or digestive problems will obviously need a little more time.
It’s an unfortunate aspect of modern life that we are all pressed for time. We fully realize that it’s a sacrifice for our patients to take time out of their busy schedule to come for acupuncture treatment. We guarantee that you will not be made to wait excessively for your appointment and that your care will be given in the most professional and efficient manner possible.
Is there anything I need to do before receiving an acupuncture treatment?
There are three things that you can do to help you get the most benefit from your treatment:
1. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Women should avoid wearing one piece dresses or tight stockings. Men should avoid wearing suits or dress shirts to their appointment.
2. Do not bring your cell phone into the treatment room or at the very least turn it off before entering the office. Having the phone ring during an acupuncture session takes away from the effect of the healing and is distracting to both the Doctor and the patient.
3. Relax. You are in good hands and there is no need to be frightened. Every treatment is individually tailored to fit the patient’s comfort level and needs. Feel free to ask us any questions you may have along the way so that you can get the most benefit from your treatment.
What kind of training have you had? What are your qualifications?
See the “Practitioners” section of this website to view our credentials.
What’s the difference between a licensed acupuncturist and a medical acupuncturist?
A licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.) has graduated from an accredited school of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has over 3500 hours of training in acupuncture as well as a formal clinical internship in acupuncture.
A medical acupuncturist is usually a medical doctor (and in some states chiropractor) who has anywhere from 100 to 300 hours of classroom training in acupuncture (usually in the form of weekend seminars) with no clinical internship. A medical acupuncturist has NOT graduated from an accredited school of acupuncture.
Obviously, the difference in knowledge, training, and quality of care between a licensed vs. certified acupuncturist is incomparable. The subject matter of acupuncture is so complex and vast that it is difficult to learn its fundamentals even after 3500 hours of training. The abbreviated 100 to 300 hour course was created for research purposes in the 1970’s and was never intended to serve as a way to train practitioners to treat the public.
It is your responsibility as the patient to ask your acupuncturist how much training he/she has received specifically in acupuncture.
I’d like to begin treatment, how do I get started?
Call the office at (201) 818-1588 to set up a time for an initial evaluation and assessment.
What else can you tell me about the style of acupuncture practiced at Natural Chinese Medicine?
I hope you don’t mind a quick analogy but I think it will be helpful in explaining how we view the practice of acupuncture.
Have you ever played the guitar? I hope you have because it’s a wonderful instrument, but even if you haven’t I want you to picture the six strings of the guitar that run parallel to each other along the fret. Each string of the guitar must be tuned to an exact note and proper resonance. This note and resonance is determined by the amount of tension or “strength” in the string. If the string is too tight/strong the sound will be too jarring. If the string is too loose/weak the sound will be too dull. The tension and strength must be exactly right for the string to produce good music.
Additionally, each string has its own unique note. The tuning of each string has to be an individualized affair, and if you treat all the strings the exact same way the music will sound horrible.
Also, each guitar has its own unique sound, kinda like people. It’s not that one guitar has a better unique sound than the other, what matters is that the specific guitar is properly tuned so that it’s own unique sound can be fully expressed….the way its creator intended.
The short of it is…acupuncture meridians are like guitar strings and I’m basically a guitar tuner.
To me, the acupuncture meridians provide a functional representation of the infinite number of complex biochemical and neurological processes that happen within your body. The meridians provide both diagnostic as well as treatment capabilities for restoring the patient to health.
When patients first come to the clinic, it’s like a guitar that’s out of tune. Some areas are too strong (ie: hyperthyroid), and some are too weak (ie: adrenal exhaustion). Sometimes the guitar needs to be cleaned (ie: chemical detoxification) and sometimes it needs a few new parts (whole food nutrients).
When the patient’s guitar is out of tune, they don’t function well. Their body does not function as a harmonious whole and the music that comes forth (ie: your life) does not sound as good as it should. It sounds painful and messy.
A good acupuncturist is like a good guitar tuner. He sees where there is too much tightness and too much weakness and adjusts accordingly. He does cleaning/detoxification where needed and treats each patient as an individual case.
And after the guitar is perfectly tuned, after the patient is healthy and harmonious within him/herself, he sends them home to live a life of independence and empowerment. He teaches them how to tune their own guitar so they only need to come see him when things get really complicated.