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Frequently asked questions

Here are the answers to questions most often asked about acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an effective form of health care that has evolved into a complete and holistic medical system.  An acupuncturist will place, fine, sterile needles at specific acupuncture points on the body.  This activates the body's Qi (pronounced "chee") and promotes natural healing by enhancing recuperative power, immunity, physical and emotional health.  It can improve overall function and well-being.  It is a safe, painless and effective way to treat a wide variety of medical problems.

What is Oriental or Chinese Medicine?
Oriental Medicine in the form of acupuncture has been used for several thousands of years and is an honored tradition to maintain and promote health.  It encompasses Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, shiatsu or tui na massage and dietary suggestions.  When used in combination, imbalances are corrected and health is attained and maintained.
What is Qi and how does it travel?
Qi or Life Energy flows throughout the body and is the core of Chinese Medicine. Qi protects the body from pain, disease and illness.  A person's health status is influenced by the quality, quantity and balance of Qi.  There are 14 main meridians or specific pathways that circulate Qi throughout the body.  Each pathway is connected to specific organs and glands in which Qi nourishes and energizes each cell, tissue, organ and muscle.  When Qi flows freely throughout the body, a person will experience good physical, emotional and mental well-being.  When Qi is blocked or obstructed anywhere in the body it is like a dam that backs up flow in one area and restricts it in another area.   This can result in symptoms such as fatigue, pain, depression or anxiety for example.
What can Qi affect?

There are many things that can influence the quality, quantity and balance of Qi.  Physical and emotional trauma, stress, lack of exercise, overexertion, working too much, seasonal changes, diet, accidents, or excessive activity can lead to a blockage or imbalance of Qi.  When the disruption of Qi is prolonged or excessive, or if the body is in a weakened state, then illness, disease and pain can set in.

What will my acupuncturist do?

During the initial exam a full health history will be taken.  Questions will be asked regarding symptoms, health and lifestyle.  Your pulse and tongue may be checked along with palpating certain areas of the body as necessary (depending upon the main complaint or area of pain).  This information is then organized to create a complete, accurate, and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan.  

Why do they want to feel my pulse?

The acupuncturist will palpate each wrist in three different positions.  Each position corresponds to a specific meridian and organ.  The quality of the pulse reflects overall health and if there are any imbalances it can appear in the pulse.

Why do they want to look at my tongue?

The tongue reflects the general health of the body, organs, Qi, and body fluids. The tongue provides additional information to make a diagnosis which includes the color, shape, and coating on the tongue. 

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments will vary from person to person.  Some experience immediate relief, other may take months or even years to achieve results.  Chronic conditions usually take longer to resolve than acute ones.  Plan on a minimum of 10-12 visits to see significant change.  Treatment frequency depends upon a variety of factors such as your constitution (genetic predisposition), the severity and duration of the problem and the quality and quantity of a person's Qi.  Weekly or twice weekly treatments may be suggested, monthly visits for health maintenance or seasonal "tune ups."

What should I expect from my first appointment?

Where the acupuncture needle has been inserted, you may experience a vague numbness, heaviness, tingling or dull ache.  Most people don't feel the needle going in.  Sometimes people experience a sensation of energy spreading or moving around the needle.  This is called "Qi sensation."  All these reactions or sensations are good and are a sign that the treatment is working.  After treatment you may feel energized or may experience a deep sense of relaxation and well-being.  It is possible to feel worse after a treatment and then feel better hours later or the next day.  Each person is different in how he or she responds to acupuncture. 

How should I prepare and what to expect after?

Come with any questions as I am here to help you.  Wear loose, comfortable clothing for easy access to acupuncture points on the body.  Depending upon a person's main complaint, if a body area needs to be accessed such as the back, a drape will be provided.  Meals should be eaten prior to coming in for your appointment in order to avoid fainting from low blood sugar.  Avoid very large meals just before or after your visit.  Refrain from overexertion, working out, drugs or alcohol for up to 6 hours after the visit.  Avoid stressful situations.  Make time to relax and be sure to get plenty of rest.  Between visits, take notes of any change that may have occurred, such as alleviation of pain, pain moving to other areas or changes in the frequency and type of problems.


Laurie Ghiz, LMHC, Dipl. Ac, (NCCAOM), LicAc

Back in Balance Acupuncture and Energy Medicine

354 West Boylston Street

Suite 224

West Boylston, MA  01583

508-769-0039  Fax: 888-350-9915

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