Frequently Asked Questions

Is acupuncture safe?

Yes, acupuncture is safe. Acupuncture has been researched and acknowledged by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for many symptoms.

How long has acupuncture been around?

Acupuncture originated more than 2,000 years ago in China. It is the oldest and most commonly practiced medical procedure in the world.

Are the needles clean?

Acupuncture needles are new, sterile, and disposable. They are used on you, only you, and then discarded. These needles are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use by licensed acupuncturists.

What are the needles like?

These needles are not like the needles you might use to sew a button on a shirt. They are very thin — most are no thicker than a human hair. They can be made of gold or silver, or stainless steel. I use stainless steel needles.

Does acupuncture hurt?

Most patients report sensing nothing at all or just a mild sensation when the needle is inserted.

What ailments can acupuncture cure?

Lots and lots. Read the answer here.

How soon will I notice results?

Everyone responds differently to acupuncture. Some people feel an immediate response within 1 to 2 hours after a treatment; others may not notice a change in their condition for 6 to 8 weeks, and only after several treatment sessions.

Acupuncture helps a person’s body to heal itself. Thus, a person’s health, the length of time they have been experiencing symptoms, and their age are just some of the conditions that can affect the immediacy of treatment results.

Generally, after a few treatments, the patient and I can determine the effectiveness of the acupuncture and determine a clear course.

How does acupuncture work?

The Chinese believe there are several pathways that run through the body. These pathways, called meridians, are like rivers of energy flowing through the body. There are 12 main meridians, and other lesser ones.

One way for an acupuncturist to tell how “balanced” a patient’s body is, is to evaluate the meridians. To do this, I will take your pulses — similar to how a nurse takes a pulse, on the wrist, but not quite the same. I will read 6 pulses on the artery in each wrist; 12 in all. As I read your pulses, I will notice imbalances with the meridians. Some pulses may be too “full” or too “low.” My interpretation of your pulses determines the acupuncture I perform.

Along the meridians are vortexes of energy, which the Chinese call Chi (pronounced like “chee”, also written as ch’i or qi). Conceptually, these vortexes are similar to eddies in a river, like little whirlpools. They are also the acupuncture points. Depending on how I place a needle, I can shift your Chi by tonifying, sedating, or dispersing it. There are several types of Chi in a person’s body.

In your previous answer, you mentioned imbalances. What are imbalances?

Basically, acupuncture balances a person’s energy. When we diagnose, we consider the whole person, not just a physical symptom. We look at the body, mind, and spirit; we check to see how your body functions, taking into account such behaviors as sleep, appetite, bowels, menstruation, and so on.

Imbalances can exist on a physical level — such as chronic or acute pain, low energy, high blood pressure, lung or skin issues — or on an emotional level — such as excessive worry, frustrations, anxiety, fearfulness, and depression.

What’s more, the Chinese also consider spirit imbalances. Spirit imbalances are present when you lack that “spark” in your eye, the fire that keeps you going. Compassion, empathy, clarity, insight, and courage are all part of your spirit.

What happens at an acupuncture session?

The first visit usually takes about 1½ hours. I will ask about your history and learn about you, then proceed with a first treatment. Subsequent treatments generally take about 45 minutes.

People tend to report feeling energized or more relaxed after a session.

How often do I need to go?

This can vary greatly from person to person. I generally recommend 6 to 8 weekly sessions, followed by sessions every other week, and then stretch out the timing as the patient’s condition improves. I have sometimes recommended more frequent sessions, and sometimes fewer.

Once a patient is doing well, a maintenance program of occasional visits, once every 4 to 8 weeks, is enough to keep everything going well.

You mentioned maintenance. What is maintenance about?

With acupuncture, it is not necessary to have anything wrong with you. You need not be symptomatic to gain a benefit from acupuncture. Acupuncture is good for preventive care and maintaining good health for all levels of your body, mind, and spirit. We take our cars to the mechanic for a tune-up; we take ourselves to the acupuncturist.

People who see an acupuncturist regularly for maintenance report fewer colds, fewer cases of the flu, more energy, and less food cravings. They also say they are more at peace with themselves and with the world.

How long have you been practicing?

I have been treating people for more than 20 years, and have had a full-time practice in Boulder, Colorado, for more than 15 years.

Are you licensed?

Yes, I am licensed by the State of Colorado. I also fulfill the requirements of the National Commission on the Certification of Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). I obtained my first acupuncture license in Colorado in 1990. Before that, I had a practice in Massachusetts and then in Maryland.

Is acupuncture covered by insurance, and do you accept insurance?

Yes, some insurance companies cover acupuncture. It is best to contact your provider to determine whether you are covered. I do accept insurance.