Holistic Heart Acupuncture Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What should I wear to my acupuncture treatment?
Until we have had our initial client intake and I have done some initial palpation, I will not be certain of the specific locations on your body where I will need to place the acupuncture needles. Therefore, I would recommend coming to the appointment wearing loose, baggy pants or sweat pants, and a loose t-shirt. You can always add layers in case of cooler weather and remove them as necessary. I also have gowns and shorts available for you to change into prior to treatment.
Do I need to eat or drink before my acupuncture treatment or wait until afterwards?
It is important to come to your acupuncture treatment well hydrated and having eaten at least 2 hours prior. Coming hungry or having skipped breakfast can sometimes result in feeling dizzy while on the table or when you initially come up off the table. If you are feeling extremely weak or excessively fatigued or hungry, I am going to suggest fewer acupuncture needles for you.
How long does the acupuncture appointment last?
New-client appointments typically last 2 to 2.5 hours. My initial client intake is fairly extensive because Chinese medicine treats the whole person. In addition to covering your initial chief complaint, I will inquire about your sleep, overall digestion, reproductive health, emotions, diet and lifestyle (exercise), just to name a few.
I am happy to do an initial intake over the phone if you would prefer so that you can experience a treatment upon arrival.
Follow-up appointments typically last 1 to 1.5 hours, as only a brief, follow-up intake is needed in order to treat.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture works by stimulating and activating the body’s own self-healing mechanism. Acupuncture can have a powerful effect on pain control by needling acupuncture points that then stimulate the body to produce its natural painkillers, endorphins, and enkephalins. Although the mechanisms for conditions other than pain -- such as allergies, colitis, and infertility have yet to be explained -- they are treated in clinical practice regularly.
What can acupuncture treat?
Both the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) confirm that acupuncture is effective in treating the following symptoms, conditions, and diseases in these areas of the body:
Head / Neck:
- Facial pain
- TMJ (TemporoMandibular Joint dysfunction; jaw pain)
- Dental pain
- Allergic rhinitis (stuffy nose)
- Hay fever
- Neck pain
- Postoperative pain of the neck (pain after surgery)
Shoulder / Arms / Hands:
- Peri-arthritis of the shoulder
- Tennis elbow
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Postoperative pain of the shoulder / arm or hand (pain after surgery)
Abdomen / Pelvic Area:
- Essential hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Primary hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Leucopenia (low white blood cell count)
- Acute epigastralgia (upper abdominal pain)
- Acute and chronic gastritis (stomach inflammation)
- Induction of labor
- Breech birth presentation (breech baby)
- Morning sickness (with pregnancy)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Radiation/chemo reactions
- Biliary colic (gallbladder attack)
- Peptic ulcer (stomach ulcer)
- Primary dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
- Acute bacillary dysentery (infectious diarrhea)
- Postoperative pain of the abdomen or pelvic region (pain after surgery)
- Renal colic (kidney stone pain)
- Low back pain
- Postoperative pain of the back (pain after surgery)
Hips / Legs / Knees / Ankle / Foot:
Source: National Institutes of Health (NIH), Acupuncture, Nov. 3–5, 1997, Vol. 15, No. 52. World Health Organization. Viewpoint on Acupuncture. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 1979.
- Sciatica (pain, numbness, tingling, weakness originating in the lower back and running down the leg)
- Knee pain
- Postoperative pain of the hip, leg, knee, ankle or foot (pain after surgery)
What is the best position to be in when receiving acupuncture?
The condition that you present, and the appropriate acupuncture treatment to be given, will determine what position you will be in for the treatment. You may be asked to lie face down, face up, or sitting on the acupuncture table or a chair (particularly for pregnant clients) with your legs uncrossed and your arms uncrossed by your side.
Clients who have excruciating back pain and cannot lie face down on a massage table, will be asked to sit forward in a massage chair or sit in a chair and lean forward with arms on the massage table.
Why do I have to stick out my tongue for you during the intake?
In Chinese Medicine, the body size, shape, color, and coat of the tongue are very diagnostic for acupuncturists. I use this information and sync it up with the details that you have shared in the intake in order to form a Chinese Medicine diagnosis and prepare a treatment strategy.
Why do you take pulses with three fingers and on both wrists?
In Chinese medicine, the radial pulse of each wrist is taken using the first three fingers. We then “listen” and evaluate the pulses’ volume and quality at various depths of pressure on the pulse in order to further form a Chinese medicine diagnosis, as well as prepare a treatment strategy.
The various positions and depths are related to the various organ systems of the body and reflect the overall qi ("life force", "energy") and blood in the system.
Do certain medications affect the results of the acupuncture?
Methadone, corticosteroids, and benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax) seem to suppress part of the acupuncture effect which means you may experience less relaxation and respond slower to treatment.
Opioid pain medications (e.g., Tramadol, Fentanyl) tend to suppress the pain-relieving effects of acupuncture.
Do I have to believe in acupuncture in order for it to work?
No, you do not need to believe in acupuncture to make it work. Many of my new clients have never experienced acupuncture before, but were curious enough to try it out. Some clients later confessed that they had been unsure if acupuncture could really help them until they came off of the table and experienced relief after a treatment.
Sometimes Western medicine practitioners have told my clients that nothing more could be done to help with their condition. Not ready to give up hope, these clients chose to try acupuncture to see if it would benefit them.
My 14-year-old Siberian Husky, Ivan, received acupuncture treatments to help his chronic pain. As a dog, he did not have a belief system, nor did he comprehend the concept of “placebo.” However, I could certainly tell that acupuncture was working for him and providing relief when he was no longer whimpering every time he took a step down off of the porch! God rest his soul!
Do acupuncture needles hurt when they go in?
Acupuncture needles are nearly painless upon insertion; however, some people do experience a brief “pinch” when the needles are placed. Once the needles are placed, the sharp “pinch” sensation goes away.
Do the acupuncture needles put anything “into” me?
No, acupuncture needles are solid (unlike hypodermic needles), filiform or threadlike, sterile, single-use stainless steel needles, so nothing is put into you or onto you, nor is anything taken from you.
It is said, depending on the gauge of both needles, that approximately 35-40 acupuncture needles (40 gauge) can fit inside the barrel of an 18-gauge hypodermic needle (typical size for blood donation).
Will I feel anything once the needles are in?
Maybe. Some people experience sensations of warmth, dull-achy, a feeling of heaviness or distension at the acupuncture site, tingling, itching, or a slight electrical sensation from the needles. These are all considered normal reactions to acupuncture needles.
On occasion, clients have experienced an emotional release while on the table receiving acupuncture and become weepy. While not a regular occurrence, this is also considered normal and a reaction I am very used to seeing. The most common sensation reported is a feeling of increased well-being and balance.
I have a sore on one of the acupuncture points, will you still place an acupuncture needle there?
No, I will never needle into bruised or broken skin.
Do the acupuncture needles ever fall out?
Normally, acupuncture needles stay in place. Ear needles may occasionally fall out during your treatment. This is considered normal. If this occurs within the first few minutes, I’ll ask your permission to insert a new needle. If a needle falls out much later into the session, I’ll likely not insert another needle, unless you insist.
How long do I have to lie on the table once all of the needles are in?
Once all the acupuncture needles are placed, you will typically lie on the table for approximately 20 minutes so that the qi has time to “complete the circuit” and make it through all the channels in the body to bring healing and restoration.
Depending on your condition, needles may be left in for as little as 10 minutes or as long as 45 minutes. If at any time you feel like you have “had enough” and would like to have the needles removed, I’ll be happy to remove them.
What is the smell I noticed in your clinic room?
Although I have a moxibustion filter in my clinic room, you may still notice a faint smell of moxibustion or moxa. The herb in moxibustion that is most commonly used is Artemisia vulgaris or mugwort.
Moxa is burned over specific acupuncture points to increase their energetic strength. Moxa is commonly formed into moxa sticks/poles, moxa stick-ons (pictured here) or “cones” (a pyramid-shaped wad of moxa) for therapeutic use.
When burned and held 1-2 inches from the skin, it gently warms the acupuncture points, both stimulating and strengthening them. The moxa does not touch nor burn the skin.
Will I bleed when the acupuncture needles are removed?
There is usually no blood when acupuncture needles are removed.
On occasion, there may be some slight bleeding, but it easily removed with a cotton ball. The place most likely to bleed is the ear, as it is very vascular and the tissue is thin. This is considered normal.
What will I feel after the acupuncture treatment?
Each client is different. You may feel immediate relief from pain or the symptoms of other conditions, you may feel a mild improvement coming off of the table, or you may notice more relief the day after treatment.
You may also be somewhat sleepy after your acupuncture appointment or feel very invigorated.
With regular acupuncture, you may sleep better, feel more rested, have more energy, and think more clearly. Again, some people may also experience an emotional release, which is all part of the healing/recovery process. You should refrain from overexertion, hot baths, drugs, and alcohol for at least six hours after your treatment session.
How often should I come for acupuncture?
While it does happen occasionally, the condition that you come in for treatment does not typically resolve in one acupuncture session, particularly if it is a long-standing, chronic condition. In general, acupuncture has a cumulative effect, meaning that one treatment builds on the last treatment.
Depending on your condition, I will recommend a treatment plan for you after your first visit. Acupuncture is neither a silver bullet nor a quick fix; true healing takes time and dedication. You will likely see results more quickly if you book appointments close together, instead of only coming once a month. As the wise Lao-Tzu stated in the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 64, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
How much would my acupuncture treatment cost?
The new client initial visit, which includes a full intake and health history and treatment is $120. This initial visit typically lasts 2 – 2.5 hours.
Follow-up client visits are $80 and typically last 1 – 1.5 hours.
Senior citizens (65+), military, and students are offered discounted follow up appointments with an investment of $70 per session.
Facial rejuvenation acupuncture treatment typically involves at least 12 treatments with either seasonal or monthly tune-ups once the series has been completed. The initial intake and treatment is an investment of $120. Follow-up appointments in the series is an investment of $100.
Do you accept insurance?
In North Carolina, acupuncturists are not covered under medical insurance plans. However, many medical insurance plans do provide some coverage for acupuncture. Please research whether or not your medical insurance provider offers coverage for acupuncture.
If your plan covers acupuncture, you will pay Holistic Heart Acupuncture directly and I will provide you with a health insurance Superbill that you will then submit to your medical insurance company for reimbursement.
Acupuncture is also covered by most Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). I accept HSA, HRA and FSA debit cards for payment.