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Acupuncture is one of the five main branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The goal of acupuncture is to promote healing through rebalancing the patient's Qi (or chi) energy. When the Qi is weak, excessive or blocked, it can cause illness and disease.

By inserting of thin, sterile needles into strategic points, called meridians, a practitioner is able to encourage the smooth flow of energy that is vital for the body to heal itself, thereby reestablishing and maintaining good health.

What is the philosophy of Acupuncture?

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Acupuncture is just one form of therapy used within the coherent system of healing known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or Oriental Medicine. TCM includes herbology, physical therapy, dietetics and special exercises (such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong). It is a distinct medical system unto itself and is not another branch of modern Western medicine. Acupuncture evolved from principles and philosophies unique to Oriental thinking and Oriental Medicine, and is most effectively applied when done in accordance with those principles.

The perspective from which an acupuncturist views health and sickness hinges on concepts of "vital energy", "energetic balance" and "energetic imbalance." Just as the Western medical doctor monitors the blood flowing through blood vessels and the messages traveling via the nervous system, the acupuncturist assesses the flow and distribution of this vital energy within its pathways, known as meridians and channels.

The intent of acupuncture therapy is to promote health and alleviate pain and suffering. The method by which this is accomplished, though it may seem strange and mysterious to many, has been time tested over thousands of years and continues to be validated today.

The acupuncturist is able to influence health and sickness by stimulating certain areas along these meridians. Traditionally these areas or "acupoints" were stimulated by fine, slender needles. Additional forms of stimulation may be used, including herbs, electricity, magnets and lasers. Still, the aim remains the same - adjust the "vital energy" so the proper amount reaches the proper place at the proper time. This helps your body heal itself.

How does acupuncture work?

The classical Chinese explanation is that channels or pathways of energy, referred to as Qi (chee) run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface through our connective tissues. These energetic pathways, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these meridians is like a dam that backs up causing blockages which result in pain or disease within the body.

The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points. The acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body's internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.

The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. Modern research has described various physiological shifts following acupuncture, such as beneficial changes in the body's own natural painkillers, anti-inflammatory agents, immune system functions and hormonal activity.

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What to expect at your appointment?

Your examination will begin with the doctor taking your case history and conducting a physical examination. The appearance of the face and body build, the shape and color of the tongue, the quality of the pulses, and the feel of diagnostic areas such as the abdomen and back may all give clues to your current health. An acupuncturist may test for weaknesses along the meridians and weaknesses in the muscles.
Before you leave the office, you are likely to receive a plan of personalized care recommendations. Your plan may include advice on diet, exercises, sleep and other health and lifestyle issues. Your treatment plan also may include follow-up visits, typically lasting between 15 and 60 minutes.

What should I expect after an acupuncture treatment?

This will depend on the treatment. Many people feel immediate results after their first treatment, while others may take more time. It is common to feel a sense of deep relaxation and in some cases ‘spacey’ immediately following a treatment. Acupuncture works on the subtle energies of your body. Therefore, after a treatment, we suggest avoiding extremes in heat or cold, sexual activity, strenuous exercise and stressful situations for at least four to six hours. Resting, if possible, is ideal.

Does acupuncture hurt?

What one feels depends on a person’s sensitivity and condition. Most people who have had acupuncture would describe it as virtually painless or far less painful than plucking out a hair. Some people feel nothing, while others experience sensations that have been described as tingling, thickness, heaviness or a slight electric sensation around the needle or traveling along the meridian. Acupuncture needles are very thin, do not draw blood and spread tissue upon insertion thus avoiding damage. Occasionally slight bruising can appear. In contrast, standard Hypodermic needles such as those used to give vaccines, are much thicker, hollow, and have a chisel tip that cuts the skin causing pain.

Is Acupuncture safe?

If performed by a qualified, conscientious practitioner, yes. Licensed Acupuncturists know the human anatomy well, and insert needles in a safe fashion. The instruments used to penetrate the skin are pre-sterilized and disposable after a single use. The practitioner is well aware of the concern over infectious diseases, and takes every measure to insure cleanliness as all health care professional do.

Are there side effects?

When performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner, acupuncture is safe and effective, free from adverse or addictive side effects. Quite often, a sense of relaxation and well-being occurs during and after treatments. While undergoing therapy for one ailment, other problems may resolve concurrently. This is a common side benefit that again demonstrates the value of balancing the quality and quantity of "vital energy" within the entire person.

Is there a chance of getting an infection from an acupuncture needles?

No. We use pre-sterilized, pre-packaged disposable acupuncture needles, which are used only once and then discarded into approved Sharps containers that are picked up by an approved hazardous waste service. Our clinic complies with all of the rules and regulations set by the Oregon Department of Health, including the proper sterilization of needles and the sanitation of our clinic.

Will I need herbs as well as acupuncture?

Depending upon one’s constitution and disorder, herbal formulas may be either prescribed in conjunction with acupuncture or used alone. Herbs are often used to support or enhance the effects of acupuncture. Because acupuncture moves and works with the subtle energies of the body, there are some instances, such as in extreme energy depletion, when acupuncture should not be administered. At these times we advise the use of herbs in order to build up a person’s vital energy before receiving acupuncture.

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