Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are Oriental Medicine and acupuncture the same thing?

A: Oriental Medicine (OM) or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) include acupuncture, herbal medicine, tui-na (therapeutic bodywork), qi-gong/chee-gong (energy cultivation exercises), and diet therapy.

In most states, graduates of Oriental medicine schools are given the title L.Ac. (licensed acupuncturist) even though they have spent as much time studying herbal medicine. Other states alow the title O.M.D (Oriental Medicine Doctor). Practitioners at NAP give equal importance to both acupuncture and herbal therapy.

Q: Is acupuncture primarily used for pain?

A: In the U.S., acupuncture has been widely recognized as an effective approach to reducing or eliminating pain, but that's not all its good for. As modern science continues to discover how acupuncture affects the body through multiple means, more and more doctors are beginning to see that acupuncture also treats internal disease as well as pain.

Q: Is acupuncture just a placebo?

A: No. Recent studies have shown that acupuncture needling stimulates bio-chemical/electrical activity in the limbic system (part of the brain) which in turn affects different parts of the body. This explains why a point needled on the leg can increase intestinal motility or why a point on the ankle can eliminate a headache. Acupuncture is also becoming increasingly popular in the world of veterinarian medicine. Animals probably aren't aware that acupuncture is supposed to be helping them, yet their conditions improve anyway. Western science is catching up with what the Chinese have known for over four thousand years!

For more information on scientific findings, see the Links page.

Q: Is acupuncture painful?

A: No. In fact most people are surprised that they barely feel anything. Some people are more sensitive than others, but most experience sensations such as pressure, tingling, light throbbing, or a slight pinch. Many people feel very relaxed during a treatment. The needles are very thin. They are not hollow like the kind used to draw blood so there is no damage to tissue and thus little or no pain.

Q: Are acupuncture and herbal medicine safe?

A: Yes. Both are very safe if performed by a licensed practitioner. Before your first treatment, you will sign a consent form that explains possible risks and side-effects. These risks are minimal compared to using pharmaceuticals.

Q: Do you use disposable needles?

A: Always.

Q: Should I stop seeing my doctor?

A: No. Western medicine excels at discovering life threatening diseases through blood, tissue, urine tests and imaging technology. Also, there are times when surgery is necessary such as in emergency situations. For the past fifty years in China, Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine have been fully integrated in hospitals. Some diseases are best treated by modern methods and other diseases are best treated by traditional Chinese medicine. Many TCM doctors in China are also M.D.s. Both systems compliment each other.

Q: Should I stop taking my medications?

A: It is important to take medications as prescribed by your doctor. Often, taking Chinese herbs and acupuncture can help gradually decrease the need for certain medications, like sterioids for pain or anti-depressants. It is best to consult with your doctor before decreasing or stopping meds.

Q: So what conditions respond really well to Oriental Medicine?

A: Some examples are PMS, depression, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, pain, smoking addiction, stress, and most chronic diseases in general. OM is also very effective in treating the side-effects of chemotherapy. Since OM is also considered preventative medicine, it can help mitigate serious problems or even deter future manifestation of disease.

Q: What can I expect to happen when I go for a treatment?

A: First you will fill out a questionnaire detailing your condition and medical history. Then your practitioner will ask you questions and will look at your tongue and read your pulse. These are the main diagnostic techniques used in Oriental medicine. All that information will help determine a traditional diagnosis that describes your present constitution. This diagnosis informs us what points to use and which herbal formulas to tailor to your specific condition. Acupuncture treatments last usually forty-five minutes to an hour.

Q: How many treatments are necessary?

A: That depends on the nature of the condition. Sometimes pain can disappear after one treatment. Sometimes two to three treatments per week for two to three weeks are needed. For chronic problems, treatments one to four times per month for several months might be necessary. Your practitioner will discuss with you a treatment plan.

Q: How long do I need to take herbal medicine?

A: For acute and superficial conditions, it is possible to see results within a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Chronic conditions that have lasted many years require patience and diligence. In these cases it might take weeks or months before seeing obvious results. As you come in for regular treatments we adjust the formula according to the information your body gives us.

Q: Can I take patent herbal medicines?

A: We do carry traditional patents in pill form which some people find very convenient. However, there are times when taking our raw powdered formulas is more appropriate since they can be composed and modified to fit your condition. The artistry in the Chinese herbal tradition lies in the practitioner's ability to create a perfectly balanced formula that will address your specific problems and overall constitution.