Using incredibly fine, single use, sterile needles to stimulate precise points on the body, acupuncture can regulate all of the body’s interconnected systems and promote natural healing and pain relief. Recognized as safe and effective medical treatment by the World Health Organization and the American National Institute of Health, acupuncture can help to resolve pain and illness, restore good health, and facilitate optimal wellbeing. Read More

Traditional Chinese medicine, has, over many centuries, mapped out a sophisticated network of channel pathways or meridians, along which the acupuncture points are distributed. While it is a common belief that these channels are invisible and have a metaphysical, energetic nature, they can actually be viewed as an interconnected network of physiological structures, which include blood vessels, nerves, muscles, fascia and connective tissue. There is an interrelationship between these channel structures and their corresponding functions, and a larger body of scientific research is developing that confirms many of these.

In Chinese medical theory, form and function are not viewed as being separate or distinct from each other, so in order to have a better understanding of this model, it is important to understand not only the localized channel structures, but also their region of influence. Modern computer imaging has revealed dynamic activity occurring in various regions of the brain with the insertion of acupuncture needles into specific points on the body. Additionally, many acupuncture points are located along nerve pathways and in regions of dense connective tissue that have been shown to illicit dynamic activity and physiological change over wider regions upon stimulation with acupuncture needles. Each point used in a single treatment may be selected for the specific physiological function it can influence or the region of the body it affects. Because acupuncture influences many physiological functions, its effects and usage is wide ranging. It can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments, both physical and emotional. Hide

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Acupuncture work?
Modern research has shown that stimulating certain acupuncture points can cause a wide range of physiological responses. It can stimulate the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain reducing chemicals. Endorphins are also known as the “feel good chemicals” that are released during vigorous exercise and are responsible for the runner’s high phenomenon. (Many people feel a little buzzed or high after treatment.) Acupuncture also stimulates the release natural chemicals that help dilate blood vessels and improve blood circulation to the treated areas. Along with its ability to regulate the immune system, this can accelerate tissue repair at the site of an injury. Acupuncture has also been shown to have a regulating effect on the endocrine system (hormone system), which enables it to be used to treat stress and anxiety, balance blood sugar levels, calm an overactive immune system, regulate blood pressure, and modulate many other functions of the body. Stimulation of specific nerve fibers called muscle motor points or junctions can relax a muscle stuck in spasm or strengthen a muscle that is weak due to poor nerve signaling. By using specific points and techniques, acupuncture can influence the fascial (connective tissue) system, which can create greater flexibility and range of motion. Acupuncture is part of an incredibly complex system of medicine, which requires many years to learn, so a full explanation is not possible here. Basically put, it facilitates and accelerates healing by regulating many physical systems and physiological functions, and it does not require faith or belief for it to be effective.

What is the Western scientific description of acupuncture?
While doctors of Chinese medicine refer to qi flow through channels, Western science describes acupuncture as the stimulation of nerve roots and pathways, various muscle tissues, and points on muscles called trigger points and motor points. Stimulation of these regions can cause the release of various neurotransmitters, endorphins, or other chemical messengers, which can help to change the physiology of the body and facilitate healing. For example, the stimulation of trigger points and motor points using acupuncture needles can cause the corresponding muscles to relax and/or strengthen. This can help resolve pain, structural misalignment, and inflammation that is the result of muscle tension, fatigue, and/or injury.

If we use a neurological model to explain acupuncture, then we can view how stimulating specific points can treat the whole body. The nervous system extends nerve fibers from the spine that travel to the internal organs and all the way to the tips of the fingers and toes. If, for some reason, a nerve signal becomes diminished due to compression of a nerve at the spine, organ and/or muscle functions that are activated by signals from these nerve fibers can be affected. Inserting an acupuncture needle at specific points along the spine and at specific nerve receptors in the muscle tissue can improve the nerve signal. This increased nerve signal can help to improve organ and muscle function. Activating certain nerves can also enhance brain function, cause deep relaxation, and  improve circulation and blood flow all the way to the extremities.

The basic thing to keep in mind is that when one part of the body is not functioning correctly, it can affect the entire body and mind. The adrenal glands, which are located on the kidneys, release hormones that change heart, digestive, and even brain function. This not only has a physical effect on the body, it also changes the way we think and process information. Therefore, treating a heart or digestive condition, or some type of psychological issue, may require treating the adrenals and kidneys. This is why Chinese Medicine views the body as a whole and does not dissect it into separate pieces. This is what is meant by the term ‘holistic medicine.’

What is Qi?
The term qi (pronounced chee) is without doubt one of the most difficult characters/words in Chinese language to translate. There is no equivalent word or concept in the English language. It has been widely mistranslated as energy, but this incorrect translation has caused a lot of confusion and misunderstanding of how Chinese medicine works. Qi cannot be translated with a single word, and as the concept of qi is such a big part of Chinese medicine, it is important to have better understanding of what qi can mean. This cannot possibly be done with a short answer of a single sentence.

While qi is commonly referred to as the body’s bio-energy, this idea does not provide a full or accurate explanation of the term. The word qì in Chinese language can take on many different meanings depending on the context. While it is most literally translated as matter-energy, steam or vapor, gas or air, it can also be used to refer to vitality or vital energy, spirit or vigor, the breath and respiration, one’s odor or smell, and one’s attitude, temperament, or morale. The term qi may also refer to the energy and strength that the body receives from food, among other things.

The extended meaning of qi can refer to many types of natural phenomena. It can include everything from the air we breathe to the blood that flows through our body. Its use in Chinese medical theory, however, can be complex and refer to substances and process (both physical and psychological) that may have no equivalent in Western medicine. Despite the many diverse applications and translations of the term qi, in Chinese medical terms, it is said to refer to a “concept of the finest matter believed to exist in all possible aggregate states, from air and steam or vapor to liquid and even solid matter.” It may also contain the meaning “that which fills the body”, “that which means life”, “finest matter influence”, or “influence”. Others may describe it as an idea relating to a process of change and transformation from one state to another, and it can also be defined as relationship and action, where form and function are indistinct and inseparable. As you can see, qi is not necessarily a fixed tangible thing or energy. These ideas have significant implications to healing.

The strength and/or movement of qi in the body can refer to the capacity of the body to transform and change, repair and restore, and thus heal. Therefore, when Chinese medical theory says that acupuncture regulates the body’s qi, what it is referring to is improving the body’s ability to properly regulate physiological function, transform, change, and resolve illness.

Example: When a doctor of Chinese medicine says that the digestive qi is weak and/or stagnant, this means that the ability of the stomach and intestines to break down and digest food (transform it from one state to another) is weak. If the motive ability of the stomach and intestines to move food along the gastrointestinal pathway is inhibited, gas, bloating, and nausea can occur. Poor function of the digestive system could also cause fatigue, as the body is not able to properly digest food and extract all the necessary nutrients. These nutrients and the energy and vitality they provide are also a type of qi. In this example, poor digestion could lead to decreased levels of energy and vitality. Chinese medicine would call this qi deficiency. In this instance, acupuncture and herbal medicine would be used to strengthen and regulate the qi of the digestive system and tonify the qi of the entire body. In western terminology, this is the same as saying that acupuncture and herbs would be used to improve the ability of the digestive system to break down and digest food and properly absorbed nutrients, providing vitality and energy and the necessary resources to repair and restore the body.

This is a very short introduction to qi. A more comprehensive article can be can be found in the articles section.

How safe is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is very safe when practiced by a trained and licensed acupuncturist using sterile, disposable needles. California state law mandates only sterile, single use, disposable needles may be used. The World Health Organization and National Institute of Health have both noted that one of the advantages of acupuncture is that “the incidence of adverse affects is substantially lower than that of many drugs and other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions.”
Are there any side effects?
Although it is very rare, acupuncture may cause a small bruise at the site of insertion on more sensitive parts of the body. Some people may feel a little spaced out for several minutes following a treatment, but they will soon return to normal. Most patients report feeling very relaxed after a treatment. As mentioned before, at a major conference conducted by The National Institute of Health (NIH), it was stated, “one of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many of the drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions.”
Can I combine acupuncture with other medical treatment?
While it is important to inform your acupuncturist of all other medical treatments and medications that you may be using, acupuncture can be used along side conventional Western medicine, osteopathic or chiropractic adjustments, or other naturopathic or homeopathic prescriptions. Acupuncturists often work with Western MDs to provide integrative health care for patients. According to a study published by the American Medical Association, 51% of medical doctors understand the efficacy and value of acupuncture. (The rest are still a bit behind.) Doctors refer patients to acupuncturists more than any other complimentary care provider.
What should I know for my first appointment?

  • For your first appointment, please fill out all required forms found under patient forms. Please fill out all sections as completely and accurately as possible.
  • Try to wear or bring loose fitting, comfortable clothes to each session.
  • Do not wear makeup if you can help it. This is especially important for your first visit as some important diagnostic indicators can be seen on the face.
  • Do not wear perfume or cologne.
  • Do not scrub your tongue.
  • Bring copies of any important medical documents or lab work.
Is there anything I should do before or after treatment?
To enhance the value of a treatment:
  • Do not eat an unusually large meal immediately before or after your treatment.
  • Do not over-exercise, or consume alcoholic beverages within 6 hours before or after the treatment.
  • Plan your activities so that after the treatment you can get some rest, or at least not work too hard. This is especially important for the first few visits.
  • Continue to take any prescription medicines as directed by your other doctors; however, certain drugs (especially opiates and recreational drugs) can interfere with the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments.
  • Try to keep good mental or written notes of your response to the treatment and any changes. This is important for your doctor so that the follow-up treatments can be designed to best help you with your condition.
What kind of training does a licensed acupuncturist have?
To earn a Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine requires approximately nine years full time study, which incorporates 4800 credit hours of academic classes and clinical internship dedicated to Acupuncture and Oriental medicine and the completion of a specialized research Capstone. At a minimum, a licensed acupuncturist must receive a master’s degree in acupuncture and traditional Chinese/Oriental/East-Asian medicine from an accredited academic institution. This requires a minimum of six years full time academic study, with four of those years devoted to the study and practice of Chinese medicine. The four years dedicated to Chinese medicine includes over 3500 credit hours of theory and clinical internship. In addition to studying Chinese medicine, a licensed acupuncturist is required to take classes in Western sciences and Western clinical medicine. A comprehensive licensing exam must also be passed before being issued a license to practice by the state of California. Acupuncturists are also required to complete 50 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their license.
Are acupuncturists recognized as primary health care professionals?
Yes. According to the Department of Consumer Affairs Acupuncture Board, the State of California began recognizing qualified acupuncture practitioners as primary health care professionals in 1979. It was the first state to do so.
Is acupuncture endorsed by the National Institute of Health?
Yes. In 1997, following thorough investigation of the history, licensing standards, practice, and clinical research, the National Institute of Health gave its first formal endorsement of acupuncture. The convening panel of 12 distinguished physicians and scientists said, “there is sufficient evidence of acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional medicine”. The panel found clear evidence that acupuncture is safe and effective in treating a wide range of health issues.
Does the World Health Organization recognize acupuncture?
Yes. Acupuncture has been embraced and accepted as part of primary healthcare in many countries (Eastern and Western). The World Health Organization has endorsed acupuncture as a safe and effective treatment for many conditions.
What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?
Acupuncture can be used to treat almost any health condition including:
  • Respiratory Disorders: emphysema, sinusitis, asthma, allergies, and bronchitis.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: food allergies, peptic ulcer, chronic diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, gastrointestinal weakness, anorexia, and gastritis.
  • Urogenital Disorders: stress incontinence, urinary tract infection, and sexual dysfunction.
  • Gynecological Disorders: irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, infertility, menopause, and PMS.
  • Disorders of the Bones, Muscles, Joints, and Nervous System: arthritis, migraine headaches, neuralgia, insomnia, dizziness, low back pain, neck, shoulder, and other joint pain.
  • Circulatory Disorders: hypertension, angina, arteriosclerosis, and anemia.
  • Emotional and Psychological Disorders: depression and anxiety.

Does health insurance pay for acupuncture?
Many insurance companies cover acupuncture costs; however, the type of coverage depends on your provider and policy.