Frequently Asked Questions

(Click on the question to go to the answer.)
  1. Is there any Western science to support acupuncture?
  2. How does acupuncture work in scientific terms?
  3. What kind of education is required to get a license? What kind of state regulation is involved?
  4. What about cleanliness?
  5. The doctors don’t know what is wrong with me; can acupuncture help me?
  6. How often should I come?
  7. Can I stop as soon as I feel better?
  8. Does insurance cover acupuncture?
  9. Flexible health care savings accounts?
  10. Is acupuncture effective for gynecological conditions and infertility?
  11. What about maintenance?
  12. What is it good for? Is it good for anything other than pain?
  13. Can acupuncture be used for children?
  14. Can acupuncture be used for pets?

 

Answers

1. Is there any Western science to support acupuncture?

Yes. Numerous Western medical studies have been completed on acupuncture both in the U.S. and in Europe. Most of these studies are random, double blind, and controlled studies meeting the gold standard for modern scientific medical research.

Medical researchers at both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have reviewed all the scientific studies completed on acupuncture. Both organizations conclude that acupuncture definitely works for a number of conditions for which studies have been completed, and that further research is needed to look at additional conditions. In fact, the conclusion reached by NIH states that “The data in support of acupuncture are as strong as those for many accepted Western medical therapies.” The NIH statement goes on to conclude that “One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same condition.”

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2. How does acupuncture work in scientific terms?

A number of medical research studies have been done in an attempt to discover how acupuncture works. According to NIH, there is strong evidence that:

• Acupuncture stimulates the release of opioid peptides in the body which function as natural pain relievers
• Acupuncture stimulates the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, resulting in a broad spectrum of systemic effects
• Acupuncture causes alterations in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones which change the regulation of blood flow
• Acupuncture can alter immune function (i.e. regulate the immune system)

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3. What kind of education is required to get a license? What kind of state regulation is involved?

In Massachusetts, a Master’s Degree from an accredited institution is required to practice acupuncture. The oldest acupuncture school in the country, the New England School of Acupuncture (NESA), is in Watertown, Massachusetts. The NESA Master’s Program is a three-year program, consisting of three semesters per year, and seven or eight courses per semester. All of the traditional pre-med science courses are required. Students must complete a 150 hour Assistantship as well as 620 hours of clinical rotation.

Licensure in Massachusetts requires fulfillment of all of the above conditions, as well as passing a national board exam and receiving national board certification. Also, most acupuncturists carry malpractice insurance.

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4. What about cleanliness?

Western medical hygiene standards are the norm. Universal precautions such as hand washing, swabbing the points with alcohol before insertions, establishing clean fields for needles, proper disposal of used needles are all strictly followed.

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5. The doctors don’t know what is wrong with me; can acupuncture help me?

The strength of acupuncture is that no condition is ever unexplained. When we discuss your health, I will be looking for patterns according to Chinese medical diagnostics. Your health patterns are considered the “root” of the problem and the symptoms the “branch”. Acupuncture treats the root of the problem and symptoms resolve.

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6. How often should I come?

Weekly treatments are normally recommended. For some individuals with extremely chronic and stubborn conditions, sometimes twice a week is initially recommended for one to two weeks. Again, your recommended course of treatment will be discussed after we see how you react to your first treatment.

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7. Can I stop as soon as I feel better?

Sometimes it is a good idea to stabilize a condition before stopping treatment, especially for chronic conditions. However, it is always my intent to “graduate” you from treatment as soon as possible.

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8. Does insurance cover acupuncture?

Insurance coverage varies by plan; please check your policy to determine acupuncture coverage.

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9. Flexible health care savings accounts?

Acupuncture costs are deductible from flexible health care accounts. I am happy to give you receipts or statements with diagnosis and billing codes to use with your Flexible Health Care spending accounts.

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10. Is acupuncture effective for gynecological conditions and infertility?

Yes, acupuncture is effective for GYN issues. Acupuncture is particularly effective for PMS, painful periods, and infertility. Many GYN issues are related to Qi and Blood not moving. These issues are often not difficult to resolve, however some gynecological disorders can take longer to treat.

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11. What about maintenance?

Depending on the condition and on how you respond to your initial course of treatment, maintenance may or may not be recommended.

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12. What is it good for? Is it good for anything other than pain?

Acupuncture is a complete system of medicine, so it is effective for more than pain. Acupuncture is effective for migraines, digestive disorders, allergies, and stress relief. Please see the Conditions Treated page for a more complete list, or feel free to call to discuss your condition..

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13. Can acupuncture be used for children?

Yes, acupuncture can be used effectively for children for a number of conditions such as abdominal pain, growing pain, ADD/ADHD, headaches and more. Please feel free to call for a consultation on your child's issues."

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14. Can acupuncture be used for pets?

Yes, acupuncture is very effective for pets. Pet Acupuncturists are listed on the Links page.

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