What is Acupuncture and how does it work?
Acupuncture is only one part of an entire system of medicine that evolved more than 3000 years ago in China. People discovered that inserting fine needles into specific points on the body stimulated the body’s innate ability to heal itself. While acupuncture techniques have been refined over the centuries, the essential theory behind the practice has remained intact.
Chinese Medicine treats people by rebalancing the energy or “Qi” (pronounced “chee”) that circulates through organs and channels in the body. Acupuncture needles stimulate the body’s Qi, or energy, along pathways (meridians) within the body. When the Qi is insufficient, or blocked, disease develops. The placement of needles on specific areas of the body help to stimulate, disperse and balance the flow of Qi throughout the body, bringing it back into balance.
From a Western perspective, the mechanism of how acupuncture works is not fully understood. We do know acupuncture triggers a cascade of biochemical reactions in the body that can affect the local area of insertion and influence the nervous system as a whole. It has been show to help increase blood flow, release neurochemicals related to pain management, and can affect the endocrine system.
What other forms of Chinese Medicine will be used?
Chinese medicine includes other modalities: herbal medicine, massage (tui na or acupressure), moxibustion (heat application), cupping, diet, and exercise (qi gong). You may be asked to take a Chinese herbal formula in addition to your acupuncture treatments. Herbs and acupuncture are used together and can enhance one another’s effects. Many of the traditional point combinations and herbal formulas remain as viable and effective today as they were several thousand years ago! At Selby Acupuncture we carry herbal formulas in pill form, powders and also have an abundant raw herbal pharmacy. Our large pharmacy allows us to make custom formulas specifically for you and your condition. You may also experience cupping, electric stimulation of the acupuncture points, moxibustion, massage (tui na), and dietary therapy. If you have any questions about the above treatments and how they work please call us and we can talk about the treatments further with you.
Does it hurt?
No. The needles that are used are very fine, and their insertion is relatively painless. Most patients feel nothing at all, or a small pricking sensation during insertion of the needles. Acupuncture needles are fine and solid, and are inserted into the skin quickly, unlike the much larger gauge, hollow hypodermic needles that most people fear.
After the needles are inserted, people report a range of sensations — tingling, pressure, warmth, dull aching, slight pinching or pulling. All of these sensations are normal, and are in fact desired.
What can I expect at my first visit?
Your first visit will take around 1-1.5 hours. We will begin by doing a thorough intake, asking questions about what brought you in, as well as gaining understanding into your general health through questions, examining your tongue, and feeling your pulse. Once a treatment plan has been decided, you will have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have. At this point you will begin treatment. You will be asked to change into a gown and lay on a table in a quiet, relaxing environment. Needles will be placed in certain points along your body. The room will be darkened and you will relax for 20-40 minutes. At this point, the needles will be removed and your treatment complete.
How long does a treatment last?
The first appointment generally takes 1.5 hours, and subsequent treatments generally last 60 minutes. We will first discuss your condition, and decide on a treatment plan. After needles are inserted, they are generally retained for 25-40 minutes.
How many treatments will I need? How often do I need to come?
Generally people experience improvement after 3-6 treatments. Some people experience immediate relief from their symptoms, and others need more treatments. The duration of a course of treatments varies greatly and is dependent upon the condition that is being treated and how your body responds to treatment. In general, the more chronic the condition, the longer it takes to treat. If you would like further information about your specific condition, please call us at 651-224-6678 and we will be pleased to discuss it with you.
What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?
The World Health Organization (WHO) currently recognizes more than 40 conditions that can be treated with acupuncture. However, it is important to remember that acupuncture treats the whole person, not just the condition. Even if your condition is not listed, you may still benefit from acupuncture.
Read the full report of the World Health Organization Clinical Acupuncture Trials.
Is acupuncture and herbal medicine safe?
All acupuncture needles are sterile, single use, disposable needles. All herbs are tested for toxins, including pesticides and heavy metals, and other pharmaceuticals. Many of our raw herbs are organic, and more will be added as they become available. All herbs are from countries that comply with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations, which require herbs to meet criteria to be sold in the United States. We are confident that the ingredients used are safe.
Can you combine western medicine with herbal medicine?
Yes, you can. Acupuncture has very little recorded interactions with western medications. It is best to bring with you a complete list of current medication and dosages to your first acupuncture appointment. At Selby Acupuncture, we have been trained and certified in the use of Chinese herbal medicine and can safely prescribe herbal medicine based upon your condition and what western medication you are currently taking.
Does medical insurance cover acupuncture?
Selby Acupuncture is an in-network provider for HealthPartners, Medica, United HealthCare, Cigna, PreferredOne, and UCare. Coverage does vary based on your policy, so make sure to call your insurance company to find out what acupuncture benefits you may have. We do not have contracts with any other medical health insurance providers at this time. However, some patients do get reimbursed directly from their insurance plans. Check with your insurance company to find out what type of coverage you may be eligible for. We will happily work with you to provide whatever type of information your insurance company may need.