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FAQ: Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Is acupuncture safe?

When performed by a qualified and well-trained practitioner, acupuncture is one of the safest treatment options available today. Acupuncture works by stimulating the body at specific points intending to facilitate the body’s own healing process. It is a natural therapy with virtually no negative side effects (although, you may experience positive ones!). It is designed to reverse and/or prevent the progression of pain and/or disease. This may benefit those who have chronic pain or illnesses, an acute injury, are taking medications (to reduce or possibly eliminate the need), are avoiding having to take medications, or would like a boost in health and overall well-being.

When most people think of needles, they think of hypodermic needles and immediately associate them with pain. Most are put off by the thought of trying acupuncture for the first time because of their fear of the needles. Acupuncture needles are not at all like hypodermic needles. They are very fine (25-50x's thinner than hypodermic needles) and they are often described as being not much thicker than a human hair.

Typically, during a treatment, you may feel a brief (and mild), ache, heaviness, ’tingling sensation’ or warmth at the needle site. This is considered the "Qi" sensation and is totally normal. In fact, we want you to feel this sensation during your treatment. By and large, patients describe the initial sensations as fleeting and the long term sensations as deeply relaxing. After insertion, most patients just relax and often fall asleep for the remainder of the session and report a sense of renewal and ease at the conclusion of the treatment.

If I am already receiving another form of treatment, can I still come in for acupuncture?

Yes, of course. Combining acupuncture with chiropractic, physical therapy, massage therapy or any other related modality definitely has its benefits. You don't have to choose just one. This is a powerful system of healing that complements "conventional" treatment as well. The two systems of medicine work in very different ways but can be used successfully to enhance one another. Using both Eastern and Western medicine together is a big step towards true integrative healthcare.

What do herbs do? Are herbs safe?

Herbs are prescribed with a focus restoring balance by nourishing the body to treat a particular imbalance or Chinese medical condition. Herbs are generally gentle and natural and therefore often require a few days to demonstrate their full effect. Chinese herbal remedies may be prescribed in raw form, granules, powders, concentrated capsules, or tea pills.

When herbs are prescribed by a well-trained and well-educated practitioner, Chinese herbs are very effective and safe. Careful attention is always paid to dosage, combination of herbs, as well as any known drug-herb interactions. At Stepping Stone, we only prescribe herbal medicines that come from companies who abide by GMP practices.

How do I get the most out of my treatments?

Commit to a full course of treatment - acupuncture has a cumulative effect and in order to get better and stay better, it's important to be consistent. Herbal medicine often requires a full course of treatment in order to see lasting benefits. Pay attention to your day-to-day health - keep track of what is going on with your body everyday. Before you know it, you will be noticing subtle changes.

Relax. We live in a very active, busy and often pressured society; it is hard to maintain any kind of balance between activity and relaxation without making a conscious and consistent effort to slow down sometimes. Find something that is calming that you enjoy doing - meditating, yoga/qi gong, listening to music, cooking, reading, gardening, etc. People tend to lose sight of the importance of this in daily life.

Exercise - problems occur when "Qi" or energy is stagnant in the body. One cause of this is from infrequent or inadequate activity. Regular exercise can aid in the healing process, but is also pertinent in cardiovascular health and overall well-being. Commit to making lifestyle adjustments as suggested - while receiving regular acupuncture treatments, you will notice that your practitioner suggests things like avoiding certain foods, increasing certain activities, adjusting your sleep schedule, or eliminating daily stressors.

Committing to healing yourself will greatly reinforce your acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments!

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