Acupuncture Q & A: Common Questions About Acupuncture
From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO...
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world, originating in China more than 2,000 years ago. Acupuncture is the insertion of sterile, disposable, fine needles into specific points located near or on the skin’s surface. Adjunctive therapies may include cupping, gua sha, heat therapies, herbal medicine, acupressure and electroacupuncture. In the past two decades, acupuncture has grown in popularity in the United States. According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (the largest and most comprehensive survey on complimentary and alternative medicine), 8.2 million Americans have used acupuncture.
What does acupuncture feel like?
Acupuncture needles are metallic, solid, and hair thin. Most patients report feeling a sensation of warmth, tingling or pressure during the insertion of the needle with minimal or no pain. Some people are energized by the treatment, while others feel relaxed. Everyone’s experience is unique.
Is acupuncture safe?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. The FDA requires that sterile, nontoxic needles be used and that they be labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only. Relatively few complications have been reported to the FDA in comparison to the millions of people treated each year by acupuncture.
Does acupuncture work?
According to the National Institute for Health Consensus Statement on Acupuncture in 1997, acupuncture has been shown to be effective for adult postoperative chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. Acupuncture has been found to be effective in treating addictions, stroke, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia pain, osteoarthritis, low-back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome when used as a complimentary treatment. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is one of the key components of the Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) system. TCM views the body as a delicate balance of two opposing components: yin and yang. Health is achieved and disease is prevented by maintaining the body in a balanced state of yin and yang. This concept is very similar to the concept of homeostasis in western medicine. Any imbalance leads to blockages in the flow of qi (vital energy) along pathways known as meridians. Several theories have been proposed as to how acupuncture may work from a western perspective. Acupuncture may regulate the nervous system, aid the activity of endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body or alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones.
What should I expect during my first visit?
During the first office visit, your acupuncturist will spend over an hour reviewing your health history, chief complaint and any other factors that may impact your health. The practitioner will want to obtain a complete picture of your health to design a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses all of your health needs. Inform the acupuncturist about all treatments or medications you are taking and all medical conditions you have.
Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery.
She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women's health, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.