Acupuncture & TCM

Traditional Chinese Medicine

tcmacupunctureTCM stands for Traditional Chinese Medicine.  This includes Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology, Tui Na Massage, Cupping, Gua Sha / rubbing therapy, and Tai Chi exercise along with breathing techniques called Qi Gong.   It originated in China thousands of years ago and has been used continuously throughout Asia both as a general healthcare system and by the elite for longevity and beauty. The Asian philosophy of medicine has its primary focus on prevention.

In ancient times you did not pay a doctor if you got sick, as it was the doctor's job to help the village stay healthy. Doctors were paid as long as you were healthy and if the villagers got sick the doctor was often run out of town.

In TCM disease is theorized to be caused by imbalance among the body's systems.  TCM focuses on first finding the root causes of the imbalance and then harmonizing the flow of energy in our bodies, to tonify the deficiency or reduce the excess. According to TCM Acupuncture modulates the flow of energy in its pathways or meridians, which restores the body to harmonious balance. It is used in conjunction with herbal pharmacology, combined with diet, Chinese massage (TuiNa), and breathing techniques and exercise therapies (Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Nei Gung) to maximize health, prevent illness and treat disease.

Since 1970, following the opening of China to the West, Acupuncture is now accepted by insurance carriers, used in hospitals and a respected form of treatment for many diseases.

In TCM there are many approaches to treatment of disease. Many patients that come to see Acupuncturists may have inexplicable pains, or signs and symptoms that are real to the patient but for which there is no significant diagnosis in western medicine. Many other patients are referred to acupuncturists by M.D.'s in order to help enhance the effects of their western treatments. More and more there is a coming together of east and west in a combination of treatments that is very valuable to patients seeking better results and a higher level of health care.

Although one may feel significantly better after one session, especially in cases of acute pain or injury, in most cases the best results are achieved in an 8 to12 treatment program. Treatments are scheduled once or twice a week depending on the issues being addressed. There are also many who come once a week or twice a month to maintain a healthy lifestyle, reduce stress and tension and optimize energy and vitality.

How Acupuncture Works: The Western Perspective

tcmacupunctureAccording to Western medicine, the effects of Acupuncture are most likely the result of stimulating the nervous system to override other nerve impulses (gate control theory) so as to reduce pain, as well as by causing the release of certain hormones which affect other bodily functions.

In studies supported by research from the National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization it has been shown that acupuncture has effects on ACTH, insulin, thyroid hormones,  growth stimulating hormone, beta-endorphin (which reduces pain), neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline and endogenous opioid peptides, white blood cell production and plasma cholesterol levels.

Acupuncture also stimulates the release of a variety of other hormones that help the body to respond to injury and stress; stimulate the immune system; improve circulation, blood pressure, rhythm and stroke volume of the heart;  foster smooth muscle relaxation; reduce inflammation and promote feelings of well-being.  It has bioelectric effects as well, especially with the use of electro-acupuncture, which can stimulate cells for tissue growth and repair, hasten motor recovery from paralysis and improve peripheral nerve activity.

Scientists have documented these results using blood chemistry analysis, functional MRI's and thermography.

For more information visit the NIH website:

Common Ailments

tcmacupunctureMusculo-Skeletal & Pain Disorders

Back pain, sciatica, frozen shoulder, tennis golfers elbow, knee pain, ankle pain, neck pain, whip lash, arthritis, carpal tunnel sydrome and fibromyalgia.

Neurological Disorders

Headaches of all types
Bells Palsy, TMJ,

Upper Respiratory Tract Disorders

Acute/chronic sinusitis, rhinitis, common cold, sore throat, allergies, asmtha.

Gastro-Intestinal Disorders

Nausea, acid regurgitation, belching, gas, distention, fullness, constipation, diarrhea and IBS,   duodenal ulcer, diverticulosis.

Reproductive System & Hormone Disorders

Menstrual problems, PMS, menopause, infertility.
Stress & Tension
Side Effects from Chemotherpay or radiation
Pre & Post Operation therapy to reduce recovery time and pain relief
Anti Aging, Longevity
Preventative Medicine, Immune System strengthening

  • Does it hurt?

    No, not really and for some not at all.  Acupuncture needles are very different from hypodermic needles used for injections. They are ultra fine ( hairlike ) and flexible and usually barely felt when inserted.  Some points may have a quick tinge of sensation while others have none.   A tinge of sensation can be a slight burining electrical feeling running up or down a leg or an arm or slight cramping, heaviness, distention  which is associated with the therapeutic effects of acupuncture.  This helps make patients more confortable knowing something is working. Discomfort is mild or nonexistent and most find it extremely relaxing and or energizing.

  • How many treatments will I need?

    The number of treatments will vary from person to person and on the condition being treated.  Many experience immediate relief on the first visit, but resolution of a problem and sustained relief will require a series of treatments, from at least 4 to perhaps 12, generally once or twice a week.  Chronic and longstanding conditions usually take longer to resolve than acute ones.  Except for treating acute, traumatic conditions, such as a sprained ankle which has swollen and which can be helped in a short time, plan on a minimum of a month to realize significant changes.

  • How safe is acupuncture?

    Acupuncture is extremely safe.  It is a natural, drug-free therapy with only very rare adverse side effects, which are ususally minor.  There is little danger of infection from the needles, as they are all sterilized, single-use and discarded afterwards.

  • What happens on my first visit?

    During the initial visit we will take a full health history, both on a form and in person with the acupuncturist.  You will be asked about your symptoms, lifestyle, and any other treatments you are receiving.  The acupuncturist may, during the exam,  check your pulse, take your blood pressure if warranted, and look at your tongue as part of traditional Chinese diagnosis.  We may also perform a electro meridian test to further key in to the condition of your body systems. After the exam, you will recieve an acupuncture treatment which will take from 40 tp 60 minutes, and other therapies may be recommended so plan about an hour and a half for your first visit.  You may also recieve a herbal consultation and have herbal formulas recommended.

  • How should I prepare for my first visit?

    Write down and bring any questions you may have, also bring a list of prescription medications you take.  Wear loose, comfortable clothing so the acupuncturist can have easy access to the acupuncture points, many of which are on the legs from the knee down and on the arms from elbow to fingers.  Do not eat a heavy meal just before your visit and allow sufficient time to realx afterwards.

  • Does my insurance cover acupuncture? Do you accept insurance?

    Insurance coverage varies from company to company and policy to policy within each insurer.  You should call your insurance provider to find out if they cover acupuncture, as many do, and how many treatments per year are covered.  If you are covered we will give you what is called a Superbill, which has all the required diagnostic and treatment codes that insurers require.  You send them the Suprebill as a claim, and they will reimburse you up to limits of your coverage.

Clinical Studies

tcmacupunctureThere are now literally hundreds of studies worldwide, including many randomized, controlled blind trials published in leading peer reviewed medical journals, that  document the value of acupuncture.

Basic studies have probed local effects of traditional acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and also laser acupuncture, as well as exploited brain imaging techniques to show, for example, that acupuncture affects structures of the limbic system involved in the affective/suffering components of pain. Neurochemical studies are revealing the effects of acupuncture on neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline and endogenous opioid peptides, that are associated with descending endogenous pain-modulating systems. Other neurochemical studies are exploring whether acupuncture increases nonenzymatic nitric oxide generation and the role that may play in acupuncture effects, such as inducing noradrenaline release.

Clinical research is also keeping, if not increasing in pace.   For instance, a systematic review of randomized controlled clinical trials of acupuncture for postoperative pain, published in the August 2008 issue of the British Journal of Anaesthesia, demonstrated that acupuncture had clear value, that it decreased pain intensity and lowered opioid side effects.  Recently, the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians published new clinical treatment guidelines for persistent back pain that now include acupuncture as a treatment option.

For Up to Date research