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What is acupuncture?

We are bioenergetic beings and the Chinese ancients called this energy of life "Qi"(pronounced "chee"), or "life energy." Acupuncture is an ancient medical treatment based on regulating the body's Qi, which flows in the body along pathways called meridians. Hundreds of acupuncture points can be opened like gates to balance and harmonize the flow of Qi, relieving pain and many other symptoms of disease.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

The Universe is made of Qi and it is the same energy that moves in us. We are a reflection of the macrocosm on a microcosmic level. The Ancients believed that the human body was covered with channels or small passageways where Qi flowed. It is like an irrigation system that coordinates the body's many systems. Acupuncture attempts to regulate the flow of Qi in the body by supplementing systems that are sluggish such as digestion or elimination. Excesses are drained away that might be causing that pounding migraine headache. The Chinese, through centuries of observations, discovered that insertion of needles at specific points could cure or aid the body in maintaining health.

Does it hurt?

No. Most people enjoy treatment and find it very comfortable, restful, and relaxing. Sometimes the needle insertion feels like a quick pinch that rapidly subsides. Some people report a mild tingling, heaviness, warmth, or a dull ache at the acupuncture point, which is a sensation of Qi moving. Generally sessions last about an hour, in which the patient rests or naps. After treatment, you can expect to feel less pain, more energy, and a heightened sense of well-being.

Are They Clean and Do You Reuse Them? Is there any medicine on them?

The needles are sterile, made of stainless steel, and individually sealed. They are used one time only, after which they are disposed of in a medical waste container. There is no medicine on the needle.

Does It Work On The Nervous System?

Acupuncture does not work via the nerves. It is thought to be another type of signal conducting system. Modern Western Medicine has been unable to explain acupuncture, why it works, how it works, etc.… Qi cannot be measured or seen, but we know it is there because we see the results.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments required depends on the severity and duration of the symptoms to be addressed. For a cold or flu, one or two treatments can be very helpful. For chronic health conditions of years or even life-long duration, a longer course of treatment is normally required. Within the first 4-6 sessions, the effectiveness of the treatment is often evident and clear treatment goals should be established.

Does health insurance cover acupuncture?

Most insurance plans do not cover acupuncture yet. However, some policies are beginning to include acupuncture because of its cost effectiveness as a treatment and because consumers have shown a willingness to pay for it out of pocket. A list of insurers that cover acupuncture can be found here, however many of which in western US.

In the rest of country, some of the large insurance providers are looking closely at consumer demand for acupuncture and are offering discounted plans. Unlike covered services, the insurance companies don not pay for acupuncture services; instead they require participating practitioners to discount their services for subscribers. Some companies and unions with self-insured plans are funding coverage for their members.

In some cases injuries sustained while on the job or in a motor vehicle accident may be covered for acupuncture care under workers compensation or automobile insurance policies. A bill currently under consideration in Congress provides for covered acupuncture care for seniors under Medicare.

Training and Licensing of Acupuncturists

Today acupuncturists are trained in accredited, 3-4 year, graduate programs and are licensed by most states. Acupuncturists may be certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, (NCCAOM), a national organization established to regulate the practice of acupuncture.

After passing national examinations, these acupuncturists are designated as board certified in acupuncture or diplomates of the NCCAOM. (Dipl.Ac.) The NCCAOM maintains a directory of certified practitioners on their web site. Dr. Zhiming Meng, OMD is certified and licensed.

Some physicians offer treatment known as medical acupuncture, a kind of mini acupuncture based on a much shorter course of study. While an accredited masters level program in acupuncture includes about 2500 hours or more of study, some of the programs for physicians offer about 200 hours.

Acupuncturists who graduate from accredited programs have completed an extensive course of study of Oriental Medicine as well as of Western biomedical approaches to illness. Contemporary acupuncturists are prepared to work with physicians and other health care providers to bring the most effective aspects of Oriental Medicine into the conventional medical clinic.

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