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Frequently Asked Questions
- Is there any Western
science to support acupuncture?
- How does acupuncture
work in scientific terms?
- What kind of education
is required to get a license? What kind of state regulation
- What about cleanliness?
- The doctors don’t
know what is wrong with me; can acupuncture help me?
- How often should I come?
- Can I stop as soon as
I feel better?
- Does insurance cover
- Flexible health care
- Is acupuncture effective
for gynecological conditions and infertility?
- What about maintenance?
- What is it good for?
Is it good for anything other than pain?
- Can acupuncture be used
- Can acupuncture be used
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 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.”
2. How does acupuncture work in scientific
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
• 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)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
14. Can acupuncture be used for pets?
Yes, acupuncture is very effective for
pets. Pet Acupuncturists
are listed on the Links page.