Frequently Asked Questions
Fact versus Fiction
The popularity of Traditional Chinese Medicine has made it more accessible than ever for those looking for a natural way to find balance physically and emotionally, acupuncture may hold the answer. Some people, however, are intimidated by those needles. To that end, The Om Flow has debunked a few myths.
MYTH: Acupuncture hurts.
MYTH: You can get diseases from acupuncture.
FACT: Anyone practicing acupuncture in the United States is required to use disposable needles. So no needle is ever used twice.
MYTH: Needles are stuck into nerves.
FACT: Needles are inserted into muscles. A certified acupuncturist has extensive education in human anatomy, so he or she knows the safe spots to use needles.
MYTH: Acupuncture only treats pain.
FACT: Acupuncture has been known to treat a host of other problems including insomnia, fatigue, digestive problems, infertility, inflammation related illnesses and many more.
MYTH: Acupuncturists are not licensed professionals.
FACT: Today, acupuncturists are required to do three to four years of graduate work in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and they also have to pass national certification exams, Clean Needle Technique certification, and CPR in order to be licensed by the state.
Will it hurt?
When people think of needles, they remember the sensation of drawing blood or receiving a vaccination. Acupuncture needles are between the size of a small sewing needle and a horse hair. Most people do not feel them at all or they may feel a tiny prick as the needle enters the skin. Once the needle is in the skin, the patient may feel a tingling sensation as the energy flow of the body (what the Chinese refer to as “qi”) moves through the body. It is not uncomfortable or painful, but a relaxing sensation. In addition, at The Om Flow, our needles are even smaller than most acupuncturists use, they are disposable, single-use sterile stainless steel acupuncture needles.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Because the acupuncture needles used are filiform, they do not have a hole in the center – thus, pathogens can not enter the body through the needles. Each sterile needle is individually packaged and disposed of after use. Placement of the needles is done by a highly trained professional with extensive knowledge of the human anatomy.
What will happen after the treatment?
Most often, patients will feel very relaxed and calm after an acupuncture treatment; the majority of patients fall asleep during the treatment.
Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
Definitely not. I always like to site the extensive use of acupuncture for animals when asked this question as they do not have a belief system when it comes to healthcare, nor do they know what the tiny needles being inserted in them are supposed to do. My favorite patients are the ones who come in to “give it a shot”. The people who don’t believe in it instantly become the biggest proponents of it when they discover how well it works.
Will acupuncture and herbs interfere with other forms of therapy or medications I receive?
Acupuncture is very safe to use in conjunction with other forms of therapy, in fact it has a synergistic effect when combined with other healing modalities, which is why we provide massage therapy at our facility as well. In regards to herbal medicine, it is very important your practitioner is well educated in prescribing herbs because certain substances may interfere with some pharmaceuticals and should not be taken concurrently. Herbal medications can be taken during the same course of treatment as most homeopathic remedies, but they should not be consumed together (i.e., take the herbs at a different time of day than the homeopathics). Please take your time to fill out the patient intake form when you arrive, outlining every prescription or homeopathic drug you are currently taking.
How long does treatment last?
Set aside 1-1 ½ hours for the initial session to allow for adequate health history intake, questions from the practioner and treatment. Follow-up sessions are usually about 45 minutes to one hour. Overall course of treatment varies quite a bit. Acute conditions (such as common cold, flu or other short-lived illnesses) often respond within a treatment or two. Chronic conditions typically take longer to treat. Your practitioner will discuss your prognosis and course of treatment with you after your first visit. Remember, our goal is to get your body back into a state of balance so that it can take care of itself. Some conditions may require regular “maintenance” treatments once a month or seasonally and some conditions may be effectively “managed” with acupuncture and herbs even if they cannot be cured. Treatment length and prognosis depend greatly upon the condition being treated and the individual who is experiencing the condition.
If you have any other questions not addressed here, please feel free to ask your acupuncture practioner. Our goal at The Om Flow is to develop an open dialogue with our patients. It is a priority for us to make you feel safe and comfortable with your treatments here.
Honestly, no one knows for certain how acupuncture works, but it is clear that it has a strong effect on the body. The Chinese explanation is that needling points affects the flow of energy (called qi) in the body. Everyone has channels of energy flowing through their body which can be accessed through over 361 points when the needle is inserted.
For Western people, who are accustomed to scientific explanations for changes in the body, this is a rather unsatisfactory answer. Numerous studies have been conducted in an attempt to better explain the physiology of acupuncture treatments to the Western world. There appear to be several mechanisms for acupuncture’s effects:
1. Activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary system. These glands release endorphins into the central nervous system during acupuncture treatments, thereby reducing pain. Endorphins are thought to be 200 times more potent than morphine-type medications for relieving pain. Endorphins also strongly affect the hormonal systems, which at least partly explains why acupuncture is so effective in the treatment of infertility.
2. Changes in brain chemistry, and involuntary body functions. Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Other observed physiological effects include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, relief from pain, relief of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count which stimulates the immune system.
3. The substances released as a result of acupuncture not only relax the whole body, they regulate serotonin in the brain which plays a role in human emotions. This is why depression is often treated with acupuncture.
That said, there remains a much deeper level of mystery to the functions of the human body that neither Eastern nor Western medicine has the answer to. Why do some people get cancer, while others with the same genetics and lifestyle do not? A mental and emotional aspect that can not be determined is at work at every level of health and illness. Our services at The Om Flow facilitate a balance in the human body to enable our patients to feel their best.