Q. Do you use “clean” needles?
A. Absolutely. All of the needles I use are brand new, one time use, pre-sterilized needles of the highest quality. They are used only once on you and then properly disposed of.
Q. Why does your office smell smoky?
A. The smoky smell comes from burning chinese mugwort (this is called moxibustion). Mugwort is used to warm the needles during most acupuncture treatments here. This is an important part of the treatment for chronic pain and is the favorite part for most patients because it feels so good. In Chinese, the word we translate as acupuncture is Zhenjiu. Zhen means needle and jiu means moxibustion. They really are considered two inseparable parts of the same practice. However moxibustion isn’t popular in America because it is inconvenient for the acupuncturist. This is unfortunate and part of the reason that most others don’t get the kind of results that we do with chronic pain.
Q. Does acupuncture hurt?
A. There are many styles of acupuncture. In some styles you really don’t feel much at all. Having traveled throughout Asia and seen many styles of acupuncture, I believe it is important to feel something when you receive treatment. In fact, the ancient classic books on acupuncture stress the fact that if you don’t feel anything the treatment is not likely to be effective. With chronic pain conditions, we are trying to find the source of the pain. When we find it you will feel something, and that’s good! What you feel can be anywhere from weird and uncomfortable, to sore or achy, to painful. For most people with chronic pain, any discomfort they feel is nothing compared to the pain they experience daily. Remember, you are always the boss when it comes to your treatments, if something is more than you care to tolerate let us know. Literally billions of people have done this for thousands of years! I know you’ll be able to do it too.
Q. How long does a treatment take?
A. After an interview and history taking, I do an examination of the affected area and other areas that in my experience may be contributing to the problem. Then 5 minutes or so of Chinese Medical Massage, 5-10 minutes of acupuncture, and 5-10 minutes of moxibustion. This results in a total treatment time of 30-45 minutes but plan on spending about 1 hour at the office.
Q. What can I do to be ready for treatment?
A. Wear comfortable clothing. Don’t be too hungry or too full when you come for your treatment. Eating about an hour or so before a treatment is best. If you need to, use the restroom here before your treatment begins. Your treatment can be more effective if you do not take pain medication for at least 4 hours before your appointment.
Q. Can you tell me about your background/training?
A. I started studying Chinese medicine formally in 1989. While I was in school I spent 2 years apprenticing/working for Jing Chen L.Ac., author and illustrator of the Anatomical Atlas of Acupuncture points. Also, my school selected another student and myself for a paid trip to Korea to study at the 2 largest privately owned hospitals in the country. I received my acupuncture license in 1997 and then spent a year studying in mainland China. After returning to the States, I began a private practice. I have taught in several acupuncture colleges in California and Colorado and am published in the field of acupuncture. From 2005-2007 I studied under my mentor, Michael Turk L.Ac., author of Pain’s Healing Secret and a pioneer in the treatment of chronic pain.
Q. How many treatments will I need?
A. It takes 3 treatment to know if you will respond to acupuncture. That means if you don’t notice any improvement within 3 treatments than I probably can’t help you (there are a few exceptions to this rule-mainly heel spurs and plantar fasciitis). During these first 3 treatments, we are looking for a reduction in the frequency or intensity of pain. Sometimes, an ability to engage in activities that weren’t possible before or a reduction in the use of pain medication can be the sign of improvement. The vast majority of patients will notice some improvement within 3 treatments, which means it is worthwhile to continue acupuncture until the problem is resolved, usually 6-10 treatments total.
Q. How often should I have treatment?
A. The first 3 treatments should be as close to a week apart as possible. Once we establish that you are responding to the treatments, we can go 1-3 weeks between treatments. The only reason to space the treatments out is financial. Most patients want to get better as quickly as possible and stay with weekly treatments.
Q. There is a warning label on the herbs you gave me. Are they safe to take?
A. I am very concerned with the safety of the herbal products that I sell. And make sure that all of the suppliers that I use meet the most stringent Federal and international standards for safety. The warning label is to comply with the requirements of California Proposition 65 which has been in effect since 1986. Under this proposition, any product with any detectable amount of heavy metals- such as lead, mercury, or cadmium- must contain a warning label. Even if these levels are recognized as safe by federal or international standards. It is impossible for any agricultural product, including Chinese Herbs, to be grown without containing some amount of heavy metals, because heavy metals exist in all soils. In terms of safety, it is not the presence of heavy metals that is a problem but the quantity of heavy metals. The herb companies that I use all do independent testing to insure that their products meet the safety standards of the US pharmacopoeia. Most are much more stringent than even the federal standards. Follow this link to read about one of my main herb suppliers’ standards http://www.mayway.com/store/qa_chinese_medicine_control.jsp Under Prop 65, even carrots or other produce should carry a warning label. However the food lobby in California is much more powerful than the Chinese Herb lobby! So grocery stores have been able to avoid the warning label on the produce they sell. The bottom line is that the herbal products that I sell meet very stringent federal and international standards for safety.
Q. Can you help me to stop smoking?
A. Yes, I learned a very effective stop smoking method from a fellow acupuncturist a few years ago. It helps to reduce the intensity of your cravings. If you can’t quit because your cravings are just too strong, this treatment can help. If it is something else besides strong physical cravings preventing you from quitting, this isn’t the treatment for you. It involves 3 treatments 3 days in a row. While you are getting the treatments you also drink a special herbal tea. If you are a smoker, quitting smoking may be the healthiest thing that you can do, so don’t wait quit now.