What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient practice of medicine from the far East Asia. Over the past 5,000 years, Asian physicians have mapped the flow of energy in the body. They call the energy “Qi” (pronounced chee) and found it flows around the body in vessels; similar to blood. When the blood and qi are flowing in harmony, the body is naturally in good health. For a variety of reasons, however, the flow of qi and blood can become obstructed. Acupuncture uses very thin needles to affect and balance the flow of Qi in the body. The World Health Organization and The National Institute of Health now recognize acupuncture as a valid and  effective form of medicine.

What can acupuncture treat?
A wide variety of conditions. According to Chinese medicine theory,  pathological conditions are a manifestation of an inner imbalance. Acupuncture helps to balance Qi in the body, relieving symptoms caused by the imbalance. Please see the list of “Commonly Treated Conditions.”

What if I don’t believe?
It does not matter whether or not a patient believes in the underlying philosophy of acupuncture; the body knows and will generally respond to treatment. Studies show that some of the best results can be experienced by skeptics. In our experience, people don’t stay skeptical for long. Animals have been shown to benefit from Chinese medicine, even skeptical ones.

How does one become an Acupuncturist?
Chinese medicine school is a four- to five-year Master and Doctoral program which focuses on both Eastern and Western medicine. Programs are usually in excess of 2600 hours, 880 of which are comprised of direct patient contact and treatment. All graduates must pass a state or national board exam before they may be licensed.

Does it hurt?
Acupuncture needles are extremely thin and can often penetrate the skin with no pain at all. Some areas may be more sensitive and feel like a small pinch as the needle in inserted, but that lasts for less than a second. Once the needles are in place, there should be no pain.

Is it safe?
Acupuncture is an extremely safe medical procedure when performed by a qualified  practitioner. Needles are pre-sterilized, single-use, and disposable. Our practitioners have all been trained in clean-needle technique.

Is it just the placebo effect?
It has long been hypothesized that acupuncture works only because people expect it to work. Western lab techniques have shown that acupuncture can increase the amount of beta-endorphins (the body’s natural pain-killers), acetylcholine (the body’s natural anti-inflammatory) and several immunity factors in the blood. Even these empirical results have been attributed in the past to the patient’s expectations, but recently these effects have been replicated in studies on rats. So while you and I may have a preconceived notion about what the treatment will do, it is unlikely that the rat has such expectations.

How many treatments will I need?
This question is difficult to answer because  everyone responds differently. Generally, the longer a problem has existed, the longer it will take to correct.  The benefits generally last longer and longer with repeated treatments.  Contrast this with Western medications, which often become less effective over time and require higher doses.

What is acupuncture treatment like?
The first treatment is preceded by a thorough intake evaluation. During this time, the practitioner will ask many questions and make several observations. After determining the imbalance, a practitioner will insert very thin, pre-sterilized needles; typically between 5–20, into acupoints. Then the patient lies comfortably in a dark room with aromatherapy and soft music. During this time, most patients experience a state of deep relaxation. Other traditional techniques may be employed; such as guasha, cupping, moxibustion, and acupressure. The whole procedure usually takes less than one hour.

Does insurance cover this?
The number of insurance companies that cover acupuncture in Illinois is growing but still limited. Patients should contact their carrier to inquire. We will be happy to provide a bill for patients to submit to their carriers for reimbursement.

What about herbs?
Herbology is an empirical science; studied and passed down for millennia. Herbs are the sources for many Western medications. They can be more gentle and natural, but should not be taken without proper knowledge.  At “A Center for Oriental Medicine”, the practitioners have extensive training in herbal remedies and can customize formulas to suit individual patients’ needs.