FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Most Americans are not familiar with Acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or Chinese Herbal Medicine. So naturally you have many questions. What is acupuncture? Does it hurt? We are talking about these long shiny needles! Or you are familiar with these needles after one session or two or maybe you saw Michael Phelps’ body cupping spots on TV, you have some deeper questions, like what can acupuncture help my health or cupping improve my swimming performance. Please read below FAQ answers. We also suggest you refer to our Services and Treatments sections to see how we can help you with your conditions, or read what our patients have to say about our clinic’s services, our success stories. To those need more information, we have many useful links throughout this FAQ section. Certainly, please feel free to contact us at our Atlanta acupuncture clinic for any questions you have.
You may be surprised to learn that acupuncture is currently used by 10 million American patients each year. It is used to treat a variety of health conditions. If you don’t know anything about acupuncture, that’s fine. We can start with our very first question.
Acupuncture views human body as a biological energy field. This energy, Qi (Qi, may also called Chi or Chee), flows along 14 channels in the whole body. Each channel is associated with a particular physiological system and internal organ. There are 361 classic acupuncture points along the channels. If those channels are imbalanced or blocked, disease will rise. Very fine needles are inserted into various points of the body to restore and balance the normal flow of energy. Each point has a predictable effect to certain part of human body or associated disease, thus help relieving pain and improving body function.
Acupuncture is one of the safest of all medical practices, while still maintaining a high degree of favorable results. In fact, it is a natural therapy without introducing any chemicals or drugs into your system, but can still balance your body hormones, change the circulation of your blood, release pain and stress and totally cure some diseases.
Acupuncture is currently used by 10 million American patients yearly and performed by thousands of physicians, master’s degree level acupuncturists and other practitioners for relief or prevention of pain and a variety of health problems. Instead of using invasive techniques and harsh drugs, acupuncture unlocks the body’s natural ability to heal.
Most people agree that acupuncture is practically painless. It bears no resemblance to the feeling of receiving an injection, since the main source of pain from injection is the larger diameter, hollow needle and the medication being forced into the tissue by pressure. Acupuncture needles are extremely thin and always sterilized (individually prepackaged) according to modern surgical standards.
In the hands of trained acupuncturist, the needle is almost not felt as it enters the skin. However, a slight tingling or pressure may be felt momentarily when it reaches the correct spot under the skin. This indicates that the Qi (the energy flow) has been reached. During the treatment, patients may feel some heaviness or electric sensation either around the needle or traveling up or down the affected meridian, or energy pathway. In any case, if you experience any discomfort, it is usually mild. Most patients find the treatment very relaxing and many fall asleep during treatment. It is important that the patient be relaxed and comfortable during treatment so that desired results can be attained.
That depends on the nature of the problem, the location of the points selected and the patient’s size, age, and constitution. It also depends on the acupuncturist’s style or school. Usually, needles are inserted from 1/4 to 1 inch in depth. For certain areas in upper legs or hips, longer needles are needed.
Acupuncture has withstood the test of time for millions of people. It is a completely safe system with virtually no side effects. After an acupuncture treatment, most people will experience a sense of well being, relaxation and often be energized.
In rare cases, some people experience dizziness, nausea, cold sweat, shortness of breath or faintness during treatment. This often occurs if you are nervous. Inform your doctor immediately so that the doctor can adjust or withdraw the needles.
First, relax. There is no need to be frightened. Ask your doctor any questions you have so that you can get the most benefit possible from the treatment. Second, do not change your position or move suddenly. If you are uncomfortable, tell you doctor. If you find your treatment unbearable at any point, be sure to speak up so that your doctor can make the proper adjustment or stop the treatment.
There is a wide variety of illness which acupuncture may treat. Among its many benefits, the most dramatic effect of acupuncture is the elimination and management of various pain syndromes. Check our Service section for the conditions that we treat at this clinic using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
You may note a spot of blood at one or more of the needle sites. Sometimes a small bruise could develop. These should not be harmful and will go away,after a short period of time, but please talk to the doctor if you are concerned.
Patients often experience dramatic results?from the first treatment. Some patients experience an immediate total or partial relief of their pain or other symptoms. This relief may last or some pain and symptoms may return. In some cases there may be no immediate relief only to notice the symptoms diminish over the next couple of days. Generally, you should expect to feel better.
A high percentage of patients experience good to complete improvement. As in any other forms of healing, the patient’s attitude, diet, determination and lifestyle will affect the outcome of treatment. And the results are not guaranteed. As a matter of fact, most people in the West who seek acupuncture have conditions which have proven resistant to other types of treatment. Many patients try it as a last resource and find the solution to their problem.
The required number of treatments cannot be predetermined. They will vary in accordance with the nature and severity of the ailment. It is usually recommended that a course of 7-10 treatment sessions be given, preferably on a twice a week basis in the beginning and then spread out as the patient starts to improve. In chronic cases, more than one course of treatment may be needed.
During the acupuncture treatment, your doctor may prescribe some Moxa Sticks to you to apply them at home. As the doctor will explain to you, it is easy to apply Moxa Sticks by yourself. Please click the link here for the instructions we prepared for you, including a downloadable file for you in case you are offline. Please follow the instructions given there. In any cases, please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any questions on how to use Moxa Sticks.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Like acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine has a long history. Both are based on a co-called Qi (or Chi, pronounced “chee”) theory, or the flow of energy in your body. So it is a new perspective to most of us, different from the bio-chemical model we are familiar with. Modern studies try to see connections among the two methodologies. See the bottom of this page for further readings.
Herbal medicine is a comprehensive health care system used for over 3,000 years in China and throughout the world today. The system is based on an energetic model rather than the bio-chemical model of Western medicine.
Chinese medicine recognized a vital energy behind all life forms and life processes. It views the body as a dynamic, interrelated whole possessing a vital energy or life force called Qi (pronounced “chee”). Health depends on the free-flow of this energy and the interplay of the body, mind and spirit. When disease occurs, specific herbs are chosen to rebalance the energy and allow the body to heal itself. Usually herbs are combined into formulas that address the specific health problem for an individual.
Instead of using invasive techniques and harsh drugs, Chinese medicine unlocks the body’s natural ability to heal.
In the hands of a well-trained herbal doctor, Chinese herbs are highly effective and safe. Careful attention to dosage and combination of herbs, as well as any known drug-herb interactions, are covered in comprehensive Chinese herbal medicine education programs.
Chinese herbs have a balancing or regulating effect on the body and are usually more gentle compared to even common, over-the-counter Western drugs. When they are prescribed according to a correct pattern diagnosis, they should have few, if any, side effects, only beneficial healing results.
Side effects from herbs are possible, but are usually minor. The potential problem is gastrointestinal upset, gas and bloating due to slight difficulty digesting the herb material. If this or any other problem occurs, discuss it with your Chinese medicine doctor, so the doctor may change your formula until there are no side effects.
Herb-drug interactions are rare. However, in order to allow your health care provider to treat you effectively and work in partnership, you should inform your Western medical physician that you are taking Chinese herbs just as you should inform your herbal doctor of any prescription medicines that you are taking.
Chinese herbal medicine is a comprehensive form of medicine that can effectively address a wide variety of conditions. It has a long clinical history of treating acute and chronic conditions. It excels in treating conditions that Western medicine has difficulty in treating as well as conditions that do not have a Western diagnosis.
Check the Treatment section for the conditions that we treat at this clinic.
Western folk herbalism primarily treats diseases or symptoms, such as headaches, runny nose, menstrual pain, etc. And Western folk herbalism usually focuses on one symptom or disease at a time and use a single herb or groups of herbs for the treatment.
Chinese herbal medicine, on the other hand, is based on an individualized pattern diagnosis as well as a disease diagnosis. Your pattern is made up of your signs and symptoms, your emotional temperament and the overall composition of your body. Chinese herbal formulas are crafted to treat your entire pattern as well as the symptoms or disease that prompted you to seek treatment.
Chinese herbal medicine may include vegetable, animal, and mineral ingredients. However, the majority of ingredients are from vegetable sources. Leaves, flowers, twigs, stems, roots, tubers, rhizomes, and barks are among the parts of the vegetable uses.
Chinese herbal medicine is actually composed of over 5,000 plants, mineral and animal substances. The most commonly used are 200-300 herbs. The traditional method of preparing herbs is to cook the raw herbs in water to form a decoction or tea. Depending on your preference and the recommendation of your doctor, you may take herbs in pill form, as a tincture, or in a powdered or granulated form easily dissolvable in fluid. Although the taste is sometimes bitter, most people find this acceptable given the health benefits.
Many conditions may be alleviated very rapidly by Chinese medicine. However, some conditions that have arisen over a course of years will be relieved only with slow, steady progress. As in any other forms of healing, the patient’s attitude, diet, determination and lifestyle will affect the outcome of a course of treatment. Patients are encouraged to actively participate in their healing process.
Although Chinese medicine can treat most conditions, there are circumstances that can be dealt with more effectively by Western medicine. In such cases, we will recommend you contact a Western medical doctor. Chinese medicine and acupuncture should be seen as complementary to Western medicine.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have been helping infertility for thousands of years. Let’s find out how it helps millions of people.
- Patients who hope to achieve natural pregnancy without using Artificial Treatment (ART) drugs or procedures
- Patients who plan to use IVF or IUI procedure and want to best prepare and adjust the body in order to maximize chances of pregnancy
- Patients who have tried IVF/IUI in the past, but the body did not respond well to the stimulating drugs and want to better prepare the body before taking another round of IVF/IUI
- Patients whose previous IVF/IUI procedure(s) did not result in a pregnancy, but are not willing to give up and want to try an alternative approach
- Patients who have a history of recurrent miscarriage
Acupuncture has a long history of treating infertility. It has been used to regulate hormone, promote healing and treat conditions that impact people’s fertility. Certain acupuncture meridians influence the internal organs, some control the reproductive organs, others affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovary axis, which is responsible for ovulation. They all need to be balanced for optimum fertility function.
For example, hormone unbalance is one of the reasons that cause infertility. The hormonal problems are due to slight imbalances in the delicate endocrine system, which may alter a pathway by which the body produces hormones. A slight aberration can throw the entire system off so it no longer functions smoothly. Research has shown that acupuncture influences these hormonal pathways, and assists people’s own internal energies to restore endocrine harmony.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment. Depending on patient’s condition, a selection of points will be utilized. In a given treatment, approximately 6 to 20 needles will be inserted and retained for about 20-30 minutes. Most patients feel a sense of deep relaxation after treatment. Some patients can feel energized, relief of pain and other symptoms immediately after the treatment. At our clinic, we offer 3 types of acupunctures, body acupuncture, electric acupuncture and auricular acupuncture (ear acupuncture).
Among the various health benefits of acupuncture, the most noticeable ones that many patients experience is a calming of one’s adrenal glands, release of tension, improvement in sleep quality, and an overall feeling of energy. Internally, it improves blood flow in a woman’s abdomen area and provides a more nourishing uterus and ovaries. A clinical experiment conducted by a Swedish research team indicated that monthly acupuncture treatments with a frequency of 2-3 times a week resulted in a significant improvement of blood flow in a woman’s lower abdomen area. A better prepared uterus and ovaries can lead to a higher chance of pregnancy. In fact, acupuncture is more than a treatment for a particular area or symptoms in your body—it adjusts the body’s overall balance and activates its self-healing and self-regulating capabilities.
Certain herbs contain natural energetic substances whose essence gently corrects underlying deficiencies or removes obstructions. Upon a thorough diagnosis, we will analyze your body’s individual disharmonies and develop a prescription designed precisely to correct your imbalances.
These herbal formulas will be created based upon your past medical history, your present symptoms, and your basal body temperature chart results. It is therefore common to have variations in herbal prescriptions from patient to patient. We will individualize each herbal formula, providing different herbs for various segments of your cycle. Some women may need to switch herbal preparations two to four times throughout the month to enhance the effect.
Over the counter herbal remedies are not as effective, because they are aimed at a general population. The key to effective treatment is that each individual’s particular needs be addressed. We tailor each herbal remedy to meet your body’s reproductive requirements.
The herbal formula prescribed for you will be multi-functional. They will not only correct your particular imbalances, directly targeting at improving reproductive function – depending on your individual diagnosis, but also strengthen your entire system and improve general health.
Chinese medicine uses all-natural herbs. However, they are not leisure teas that just anyone can take due to the fact that the herbs are for serious medical treatments. Only a professional trained Chinese medicine doctor can prescribe the correct herbs and with the correct portion of each ingredient. Each herbal formula is customized to address an individual’s needs. For infertility patients, different herbs and portions of ingredients are given during the different phases of a woman’s cycle. We at Absolute Holistic Medicine only use the herbs of best quality. They do not contain any heavy metals.
Although there is no evidence indicating that Chinese herbs interfere with the infertility drugs that are used in IVF/IUI procedures, for patients who are taking IVF/IUI, we treat them only with acupuncture. No herbs will be used alongside the infertility drugs. Herbs are used only when patients are not in an IVF/IUI procedure.
- Patients who plan to take IVF/IUI for the first time and want to bring their bodies to optimal conditions in order to maximize their chances at pregnancy
- Patients who have tried IVF/IUI before, had a poor response to the stimulating drugs and did not complete the procedure, but want to improve body conditions before retaking IVF/IUI again
- Patients who have tried IVF/IUI before and had a normal response, but the procedure did not result in a pregnancy
- Patients whose previous IVF/IUI resulted in a pregnancy, but ended up with a miscarriage, and plan to retake IVF/IUI
Traditional Chinese Medicine can be used solely or in conjunction with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and fertility drugs. Most patients in Asia use TCM as their primary treatment. In the western clinical setting, it is not uncommon to see patients use TCM in conjunction with fertility drugs and ART.
The following are some of the preliminary results from our practice. We have found increased follicular development with some patients in an ART cycle with combination of TCM and fertility drugs, especially in ones who were labeled as “poor responders”. This can be seen in either an increased production of eggs or increased fertilization rate in IVF. Patients who have thin endometrial lining during the usage of Clomiohene Citrate in an IUI cycle have found TCM helpful in achieving the ideal lining condition. Most women with irregular menstruation or dysmenorrheal have found TCM to be very helpful in managing symptoms as well as regulating the menstrual cycle. In the area of recurrent pregnancy loss, some patients were able to conceive again and were able to carry to term. In male sub-fertility conditions, we have found some cases of improved semen analysis with the use of TCM for more than three months. Additional improvements can be seen in increased vitality and libido.
Our unique approach in infertility treatment is based in the appreciation that each patient is an intelligent individual whose state of well being is directly affected by his or her lifestyle which includes diet, habits, emotions, attitude and environment. Thus, each person’s health needs will differ from that of another. We always personalize treatment plan to meet each patient’s needs.
The process usually begins with an initial evaluation. Treatments will be provided on the same visit after the evaluation. Objectives and goals are set in the first visit. Depending on the cause and the severity of the conditions, treatment course may consist of acupuncture treatment and herbal therapy once a week for three months or more. If necessary, patients are also referred to an infertility specialist for all the necessary workup to establish diagnosis as well as creating a team effort for possible ART process.
For the patients who take the ART (IUI or IVF) process, we can provide special acupuncture programs of various lengths to maximize the chance of conception. In certain circumstances, herbal medicine is also provided for further support.
First, you need to be patient. It takes at least three cycles to normalize a woman’s cycle, longer if she has taken fertility drugs, has a history of sexually transmitted disease, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or other complications. Likewise, it takes 70 days to generate new sperm in a man. If he has a history of drug and alcohol abuse or urological complications, it may take longer to regenerate his reproductive capacity.
For the patients who decide to take ART process, the acupuncture/herbal treatment plan should be discussed before taking the process. Depending on the patient’s condition, a one-week, a one-month, or an up-to 3-month program will be selected.
Here are some useful tips for women who are seeking help with pregnancy.
Use the Basal Body Temperature (BBT) chart to capture the timing of your ovulation. Begin recording your temperature with a digital thermometer every morning upon awakening (before rising.) A typical graph will show a slight drop in temperature just prior to ovulation followed by a rise between 0.3 and 1.0 degree Fahrenheit, a result of rising progesterone after ovulation. Progesterone (and temperature) should remain elevated approximately 14 days and then drop, signaling the onset of menses. If conception occurs your temperature should remain elevated and even jump to a third level on the graph.
If your body is not showing a “normal” temperature curve, the right herbal formula can correct this. After one month of monitoring, we can review your chart and modify your herbal preparation to reflect any needed changes.
Note changes in vaginal mucus during the month – it should be wet and slippery like egg whites around ovulation. Note these changes on your BBT chart.
It is important to know that a healthy diet plays a big role in fertility success. The more you can eliminate nicotine, caffeine, drugs and alcohol, the higher your chances of pregnancy success. Try to eat soy products and supplements containing natural phytoestrogens. Exercise moderately and use deep breathing techniques.
If you have taken several treatment sessions, you may wonder whether or not you are on the right track. In fact, if you start observing the followings, you’ve made good progress already.
1) Symptom improvement. If you had obvious symptoms before, such as menstrual pain, PMS symptoms, irregular periods, blood clots, spotting, etc., you now find the symptoms relieved—happening less frequently or totally disappeared.
2) Temperature chart pattern improvement. If you previously had a messy body temperature pattern, this indicates your internal hormone level was unbalanced, which probably made pregnancy very difficult or impossible. Now you see that the temperature chart is changing toward a bi-phase curve, which is a sign of progress.
3) Response capability improvement. If you previously took IVF/IUI and found no or poor response to the stimulating drugs, after acupuncture and herbal treatments, your body responds better.
4) Ovary and uterus condition improvement. For the patients who take IVF/IUI, the exams show a better follicle condition in terms of quantity and quality, as well as a better uterus lining.
Many people start seeing certain improvements in one or more of the areas above after one cycle of treatment (one month in average). More profound results normally occur after three cycles.
Anxiety and Acupuncture
Compared to acupuncture’s applications to pain treatment and infertility, it is less known that acupuncture is also an effective tool to treat conditions of stress, anxiety, or depression.
Yes. Here are a couple of examples, (1) one 2013 NIH research: Acupuncture for Treating Anxiety and Depression in Women: A Clinical Systematic Review, and (2) one 2015 Psychology Today article: Acupuncture for Stress and Depression? Yes, Please! From there you may find more information on this subject, both academic researches and clinical results. However, the researches on this subject are scarce, patients are strongly recommended to read the NIH official guidelines: Anxiety and Complementary Health Approaches (2016).
Anxiety is more than just being anxious. Anxiety sufferers know that they bear only the slightest resemblance to people who feel a bit nervous or have ‘butterflies in the tummy.’
In conventional medicine, there is no single treatment for each sufferer as each person has differing symptoms. However, in traditional acupuncture every patient is considered to be unique, and this means that the practitioners will be looking and listening very carefully to everything that the patient says to establish a diagnosis and find the specific keys to unlocking the patterns of the symptoms the patient is suffering. They will aim to identify the imbalances which cause the symptoms of anxiety, not just treat the symptoms themselves. This whole ‘package’ – taking the patient’s individual story seriously and giving them time to tell it, trying to hone precisely the diagnosis, and selecting the optimum way to use the least needles to achieve the greatest effect – has been found to be very effective.
Let’s re-state the theory of traditional acupuncture, which is very straightforward. The free flow and internal balance of energy (Qi) is seen in eastern medicine as essential for good health. Any prolonged exposure to extremes or intense situations, be they physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, will cause the flow and balance to be affected. This disruption in balance then ripples through the whole system, causing symptoms which sometimes bear little apparent relation to the underlying causes. An acupuncturist’s skill lies in making sense of seemingly unconnected symptoms and understanding the unique nature of someone’s energies in such a way as to restore balance. A treatment plan may simply involve needles and moxibustion, the use of a warming herb, and tui na, a form of traditional Chinese massage, but can extend to address issues in someone’s diet, their exercise patterns and their lifestyle.
Acupuncture as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, along with Chinese Herbal Medicine, have been in practice in thousands of years. Modern researches help us understand more about the the practices and their benefits and effectiveness. Feel free to talk to our licensed practitioner Jitao Bai if you have any questions. Our Atlanta acupuncture clinic contact info is listed on this website. The following are links for your further readings.