Your body wants to be healthy. Your mind wants balance. Your soul wants to fulfill its purpose.
Unfortunately, our natural equilibrium may be disrupted by any number of factors such as anxiety, stress, poor nutrition,weather conditions, genetics, infections, toxins, parasites, and/or trauma. Acupuncture aims to restore the body's natural balance by stimulating homeostasis. It's best known in the West for pain relief and continues to be extensively studied by institutions such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the National Institute for Health (NIH) because it consistently outperforms other "conventional" therapies - including pharmaceuticals.
Acupuncture focuses on overall well-being rather than treating only specific, isolated symptoms. The aim of acupuncture is to restore equilibrium within a person's physical, emotional and spiritual aspects. Many patients come in for regular, quarterly, or annual "tune-ups" because it helps them maintain the sweet spot of balance they've worked to obtain.
In my own practice, in addition to common pain syndromes, I also regularly treat auto-immune disorders (Hashimoto's, Graves, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn's, etc.), side effects of cancer care, pregnancy and post-partum health, anxiety and depression, insomnia, migraines, and HIV management. I've also been blessed to work with more extreme cases such as kidney transplant recipients, Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), Klippel–Trénaunay Syndrome (KTS), recovery from Scoliosis surgery on an entire thoracic spine to replace broken rods, and scar therapy on surgery performed 30 years ago to help with chronic pain.
I'm consistently inspired by the diverse stories my patients bring and how Asian Medicine is able to impact their lives.
What will my first visit be like?
The first visit lasts about 90 minutes. We'll begin with a discussion of the chief reason you've come in, followed by a comprehensive health history. As with all aspects of Asian medicine, your entire case is taken into consideration so we can determine what is causing the dis-ease. Because we are treating the whole person, not just the symptom, a robust intake evaluation is needed.
After the initial interview, I look at your tongue and feel your pulse - two key diagnostic methods. Tongue and pulse diagnosis provides for quantitative data to look at in addition to your symptoms.
The acupuncture points are then selected. I firmly believe the fewer points, the better, allowing for a targeted treatment and a calm experience. The sterile needles we use in acupuncture are hair thin and different than what you've probably seen in your doctor's office.
Patients who have experienced acupuncture before often fall asleep or go into a state of relaxation. Many of my patients say that the time on the table is the most relaxing hour of the week.
How many sessions will I need?
If you are in an acute situation, such as you just threw out your back for the first time, usually only a few sessions are needed. If you are in chronic situation, such as this is the tenth time you've thrown out your back in 10 years, you can expect several months worth of regular treatment.
Patients who are able to maintain a consistent acupuncture regimen in addition to following through with assigned homework (diet upgrades, lifestyle modification, etc.) and are compliant with herbs, if prescribed, tend to heal more quickly. The homework is absolutely critical if you are managing long term issues such as auto-immune disease (Hashimoto's, Graves, Lupus, MS, etc.), Lymphoma, HIV, fertility difficulty, insomnia, depression, anxiety, etc. For issues outside of musculoskeletal disorders, I conduct a full re-evaluation at the 6th treatment to see how you're fairing with acupuncture and together we decide what will work best for you going forward.
The ideal approach to illness is to begin treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you seek help, the easier any condition is to treat.
The effects of acupuncture tend to be cumulative, therefore follow-up treatments are important once the healing process begins. The more consistent you are with your acupuncture treatments, the better the likelihood of achieving positive results.
What Training Do Acupuncturists Have?
NYS Licensed Acupuncturists (L.Ac.) are required to undertake a course of study involving 4,050 hours of classroom instruction, supervised clinical experience, and out of classroom or out of clinic study assignments. This equates to four years of full time study in addition to whatever undergraduate work the practitioner completed.
- MSAC: Master's Degree in Acupuncture
- MSTOM: Master's Degree in Oriental Medicine represents both Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture. The MSTOM degree is broader in scope than the MSAC, however both degrees represent a higher level of training that a "certified" practitioner.
- DACM: Doctorate of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. This is a relatively recent degree held by a minority of practitioners that have chosen to "upgrade" their masters degree to a doctorate through additional training in Evidence Informed Practice (EIP), Advance Integrative Diagnostics, and hands on clinical training with allopathic practitioners.
- DAOM: Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. This degree denotes individuals have chosen to delve further into their studies and specialize in a specific field such as gynecology or oncology. After the completion of their MSTOM, the practitioner will go on to complete 2 additional years of work, research, and study in China.
In order to obtain a license in NY, acupuncturists must successfully complete a series of board exams by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
The NCCAOM (National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) is the national organization that requires national board exams and a bare MINIMUM of 1,365 hours before a practitioner can become licensed. In addition to acupuncture and needling therapy, Chinese medicine school includes herbs, biomedicine, anatomy, physiology, biochemisty, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and clinical experience.
In some states, Medical Doctors and Dentists are permitted to practice acupuncture after having completed 200 hours of study and 100 hours of supervised clinical experience. This is sometime accomplished via a month long trip to China or can be done through registered programs in the US. These individuals are not licensed, but rather they are Certified Acupuncturists (C.Ac.). The designation indicates a lesser degree of training in Asian Medicine despite their Medical Degree. Chiropractors are only required to have 100 hours to be certified in acupuncture, and physical therapists in some states are required to have as little as 46 hours of training over a two year period, but can start treating people after a weekend course.