For many people, acupuncture is some thing new and unknown. We understand it can be confusing and even scary. Here are answers to the questions we hear most frequently from our patients.


what is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a complete medical protocol focused on correcting imbalances of energy in the body. From its inception in China more than 2,500 years ago, acupuncture has been used traditionally to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, as well as to improve general health.

The theory behind acupuncture is that the healthy functioning of the body is governed by the flow of “qi” (often translated as “energy”) through a system of channels under the skin. When this flow of qi is impaired, illness occurs. By inserting fine needles at various points along the channels, the body’s balance can be restored and the illness resolved.

Acupuncture can’t fully be explained within a western model. But, modern studies have revealed that acupuncture stimulates the peripheral nervous system, which can, under certain circumstances, increase the rate of healing response through promoting blood flow, increasing natural painkillers, stimulating the immune system, relaxing muscles, and balancing the nervous system response, such as “flight or fight.” This may be sufficient to help the body address disease, or may help alleviate symptoms.

do acupuncture needles hurt?

Generally, acupuncture does not hurt. An acupuncture needle, which is the diameter of a strand of hair, provides a sensation much different from the hypodermic needles many of us have experienced at the doctor’s office. Typical sensations reported from acupuncture include a feeling of tingling, warmth, heaviness, but most people experience a state of relaxation.

I also practice non-needle techniques or touch techniques with tuning forks, essential oils and Teishin. We can always employ these techniques, if you would be more comfortable.

how many treatments will i need?

Usually, a series of treatments is needed to resolve an issue. The length of treatment depends on how long the condition has been present and how quickly the patient responds to treatment. Generally, for an acute condition, the patient responds more quickly. For chronic conditions, it is estimated that for every year the patient has suffered from the condition, it takes about that many months for the condition to be resolved.

Typically, a series of 6-12 acupuncture treatments are required, then we re-evaluate the patient’s health progress.

what are chinese herbs?

Chinese herbs are usually plant ingredients that are not broken down and chemically isolated to remove the “active ingredient”. The whole plant or part of the plant (root, bark, leaf, seed, etc.) is utilized. As a result, it contains hundreds if not thousands of individual compounds. The combination of compounds is a whole substance, reducing potential side effects.  Therefore, Chinese herbal medicine acts much more like food in the body than it does like a prescription medication.

Chinese herbs are always prescribed in a combination called a formula. The different herbs within the formula balance each other and create a synergistic effect, which increases efficacy and enhances safety.

how are the herbs prescribed?

Chinese herbal medicine is based on an in-depth diagnosis of the patient, which includes the current presentation of signs and symptoms as well as the overall constitutional picture. The individual Chinese herbs are then combined into a formula unique to each patient. The formula is designed to treat the needs of that individual, not just specific symptoms. In other words, it’s possible that if three different people report chronic back pain, three completely different formulas may be prescribed. Chinese herbal medicine recognizes that symptoms usually stem from an underlying cause, or “root,” and it seeks to not only alleviate symptoms but also treat the root and allow the body to find it’s way back to wellness.

are herbs safe to take?

Chinese herbal medicine is very safe if prescribed by a licensed practitioner. Licensed practitioners have completed a four-year Master’s Degree in Chinese Medicine from a nationally accredited college. Training often includes three to four years of study specifically in Chinese herbal medicine, with hundreds of hours of supervised clinical experience prescribing Chinese herbal formulas.

Five Graces uses the highest quality Chinese herbs. These herbs pass rigorous testing by experts in chemistry, microbiology, and Chinese medicine, and possess a Certificate of Analysis (COA) to guarantee the highest quality product that is safe and effective. We also source organic herbs whenever possible.  Those that are not organic are guaranteed to be free of detectable pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals and other toxins. Do not hesitate to inquire about the safety of Chinese herbs to your practitioner.

who can take herbs?

People of any age or constitution can use Chinese herbal medicine. 

what about herb – drug interactions?

It’s not uncommon for a patient to seek care from several health professionals. As a result, a patient is often taking a variety of drugs, herbs, vitamins and supplements at once. It is important to let your practitioner know what you are taking. Provide them with a list of the medicines, including over-the- counter medicines that you take regularly (or occasionally), as well as any herbs, vitamins, and supplements. A licensed practitioner will take this information into account in order to prescribe you a safe Chinese herbal formula.

do I have to take the herbs forever?

No, that is not the purpose of Chinese herbal medicine. It is designed to treat the “root,” and help your body return to wellness.


still have questions? we're happy to help