Frequently Asked Questions
Courtesy of Neeki Larsen, L.Ac.
What is oriental medicine?
Oriental medicine is the full complement of modalities used by practitioners. The modalities include acupuncture, Chinese herbs, cupping, Gua Sha, Reflexology, Tuina, Moxibustion, and diet and nutrition.
It is the oldest professional and continually-practiced medicine in the world.
Many practitioners are trained in several types of acupuncture; Chinese, Japanese, Korean, European, Vietnamese, Tan style, fasciculation therapy, etc. This makes them a well-rounded practitioner and gives them more tools to treat your condition effectively.
What problems can be treated with oriental medicine?
The Chinese have been practicing this medicine for thousands of years and it is known in China to treat almost any non-emergency medical condition. Like all medicines, oriental medicine works very well for some conditions and moderately for others.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports 20% of the world's population uses oriental medicine for primary health care. Its use is rapidly increasing in the United States and Europe.
The National Institutes of Health (1997) recommends acupuncture for post-operative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, and post-operative dental pain. In addition, the NIH suggests acupuncture as an adjunct therapy for addiction, stroke rehab, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, and asthma.
The WHO recommends acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for 28 medical conditions to include; pain, digestive disorders, women's health (hormone imbalance, hot flashes, menses, infertility, induce labor, morning sickness) allergies, nausea and vomiting, trauma, and arthritis.
As Western research trials are concluded more medical conditions will be added to the list. These conditions are what have been accepted by the Western medical profession in the past few years.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is performed by the insertion of needles through the skin at certain points to treat bodily dysfunctions.
How does acupuncture work?
In the terms of western science, acupuncture works by sending signals to the brain's self-regulatory mechanism. This is why acupuncture is able to improve so many different conditions. In fact, MRIs show the increased brain activity in important brain structures when certain acupuncture points are stimulated.
A more traditional explanation, used by most acupuncturists, is that the life force of the body, known as "Qi"(chee), or "Chi" (key), circulates regularly throughout the body in a predictable system of internal channels. It brings warmth, nourishment and function to every area. Somewhat like the familiar principle of electrical circuits, if a channel gets blocked, the Qi can't energize that part properly and pain or illness results."
Does it hurt?
Normally, one feels a sensation but it is not painful. The sensation of heaviness, achy, dullness, and distention are often described.
Acupuncture needles are very fine, (the size of a hair), solid, and flexible. They are disposable, sterile, single-use needles.
Hypodermic needles used for injections are large, hollow and rigid - designed to force liquid into the body. That hurts!
How do I choose a practitioner?
In the State of Idaho there are technical (T. Ac.), certified (C. Ac.), and licensed acupuncturists (L. Ac.).
- A technician has minimal training and is generally supervised or has limited use of the therapy.
- Licensed medical providers (ND, DC) are required to obtain 100-300 hours of acupuncture training and pass a proficiency exam.
- A MD or DO may receive no training and be certified to practice acupuncture.
- A licensed acupuncturist has 1700 - 3200 hours of training and generally has a Master's degree in Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine.
As with any professional, check their credentials, schooling, national certification, licensure (www.ibol.idaho.gov/acu.htm), length of time in practice, and their experience with your particular ailment.
Please view our practitioners page for additional information and a directory of licensed professionals in Idaho.
What does a typical treatment entail?
There are many different styles of acupuncture, and treatments often differ from one practitioner to another. Treatments also vary depending on what type of condition you would like to have addressed. Click here to search for a practitioner in your area with whom you can discuss this further.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments you will need depends on your condition, its severity and duration, how you respond to treatment, and how complex your condition is. You might require a single treatment for a simple or acute condition or a series of treatments for a chronic, stubborn, or complex case.
The results from acupuncture vary. You may have a dramatic result after the first treatment, or you may notice the results hours or days later. Some stubborn conditions require a number of treatments before positive results are noticed. Almost everyone notices a change after the first treatment.
What happens during the appointment?
Generally, the practitioner will do a through intake, which includes asking you questions, feeling your pulse and looking at your tongue. Based on the information gathered, s/he will develop a diagnosis for your condition.
The practitioner strives to treat the root of the condition, thereby curing the problem, not just the symptoms. The practitioner will use whatever modality s/he thinks is appropriate and you are comfortable with to treat your condition.
Are chinese herbs dangerous?
Chinese herbs have been in use on humans for thousands of years and are quite safe if taken properly. A good practitioner will use Chinese herbs that are GMP certified. GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Process, which is a higher standard than the United States requires. GMP means the products are tested for heavy metals, pesticides, sulfur content, and other contaminants.
The most common negative side effect of Chinese herbs is a mild stomach ache, which is alleviated by taking the herbs with food or taking less of the product. As with anything one ingests, allergic reactions are possible.
No one knows, yet, how all our Western or Chinese medicines work, but they do know that they DO work. Studies are constantly underway to discover more about these substances.
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