Frequently Asked Questions
Helping you understand the process of receiving treatments
For most cases I recommend acupuncture once per week, and taking Chinese herbal medicine at home every day (if it’s prescribed).
In my experience, once per week acupuncture provides just enough time off between treatments to allow for continual progress with the resolution of your symptoms. If spacing it out to 2 weeks, the results aren’t as good, and in some cases could be disappointing.
Herbal medicine is like giving an extra daily boost to the acupuncture treatment’s results. In some cases, depending on the illness or injury, herbal medicine is the primary tool that’s needed for resolving the problem.
Sometimes (such as with post-stroke, or acute injury) 2-3 acupuncture treatments per week is better, at least temporarily until symptoms improve. Once moderately improved, then it’s appropriate to do once per week.
When there are no more health complaints, and when you’ve reached your health goals, some people may choose to return once every 2-4 weeks for maintenance and preventive treatments.
It’s always up to you what you decide to do for your care. At this clinic, I think it’s very important that you will not be persuaded into doing anything, but just be given information and guidance, which you can use to make your own informed decision.
Most people experience some form of relief after the treatment; it can be very minor relief (such as severity going from 6/10, down to 4/10) or even complete resolution. This relief can last anywhere from an hour up to the full week. It all depends on the individual, and it’s next to impossible for me to predict how someone will respond.
For instance, I’ve treated some young patients who were very slow to respond, and have treated some elderly patients who had what I consider to be “miracle” results of complete resolution with just one treatment. It’s hard to know.
When symptoms return after a treatment, in most cases they return in a less intense way, and they tend to diminish week by week. This is what I call the “gradual shaving off” of symptoms.
In some rare cases, symptoms simply don’t return after the treatment. That’s the ideal that I strive for as a clinician, even though I often fail at reaching it, and they are what I call “miracle cases”. You should not expect miraculous results, since acupuncture and herbal medicine are dealing with reality and the physical body. I encourage you to expect a “gradual shaving off” of symptoms.
I always keep track of the quality, location, and severity of your symptoms, ensuring that we’re seeing weekly progress, and that your health goals are being met.
If progress isn’t being made, I will rethink the diagnosis and go a different direction, which is the solution most of the time.
In some very rare cases, it might become necessary to refer out to another healthcare practitioner. This is especially the case if you’re showing red flag signs of a serious medical condition, in which case you should go to the ER and see a Western Medicine physician. Chinese Medicine does amazing things, but it doesn’t treat life threatening Western diseases.
There are ways of making an educated guess about how long it can take to significantly resolve an issue.
However, there are fast responders and slow responders, and in my experience it’s next to impossible to predict which type someone will be, because each person’s body and state of mind is uniquely complex.
Also, since Chinese Medicine places a great emphasis on how a person’s lifestyle impacts their health, it’s also true that each person’s life situation will impact their results differently. For instance, some people have more stress, which might slow down their healing process. But it might not!
If you want me to give you an educated guess about your case, feel free to ask during your treatment. I don’t place great emphasis on the accuracy of predictions.
Overall, I think the best way to assess your results is to just play it by ear and see how you’re doing each week.
Regarding “full resolution” – it might be the case that we resolve your problem so that it’s still a little bit noticeable, but it’s not bothering you at all in your life. If you no longer need to take medications, if the issue isn’t affecting your performance at work or at home anymore, and if it’s not really bothering you at all to notice it, I consider that to be a very successful case! To get a problem down to 0/10 can sometimes take longer than simply reaching a point of success.
Chinese Medicine aims to find and treat the root of the problem, in addition to the treating the primary complaint. It’s not meant to be a maintenance type of medicine, where symptoms keep returning and you keep having to come in for years.
It’s my goal in every session to resolve my patients’ symptoms as completely as physically possible, increase their sense of wellbeing and health, and hopefully even improve their longevity.
That’s what I recommend to do, because Chinese Medicine isn’t only about addressing your chief complaint; it’s even better at being a preventive form of medicine. It does wonders when us practitioners diagnose imbalances and bring greater harmony into the lives of our patients. With this increased level of health and wellness, and with the body increasingly being able to self-heal because of having less imbalances and blockages, future problems are easily kept at bay.
As such, after your chief complaint improves, I recommend having a conversation with me (or another acupuncturist) to see what else can be achieved. Chinese Medicine practitioners, having the “four pillars of diagnosis” in their toolkits, are great at finding health problems to resolve. If you don’t think you have any health problems, ask your acupuncturist, and they will certainly find something that needs work.
Here’s an example of finding and treating deeper imbalances: I had a patient come in seeking help with insomnia. They were helped quickly and were soon sleeping well, but they kept coming in because of how much better it made them feel. Surprisingly, after a few months of treatments they were able to eat gluten again (when previously it had caused major problems for them).
Finding and working on other signs and symptoms of imbalance helped us to improve their health so much that multiple minor issues improved. If they hadn’t kept coming in, they wouldn’t have discovered the true power of Chinese Medicine.
Yes, I think it’s important when trying to resolve a health issue to do multiple effective things at the same time.
Of course, this has the effect of you not figuring out which was the form of treatment which really worked in your case.
But at least personally, I think it’s more important to resolve your issue than to “test” whether Chinese Medicine works. What’s the goal here – to experiment, or to get you better?
We already know that Chinese Medicine works in most cases based on scientific research, and through the personal experiences of acupuncturists (aside from the fact that it’s a 2,000 year old form of medicine, with a lot of case histories). So for me, testing it is unnecessary, and I’m more focused on improving your health and wellbeing.
Using multiple effective strategies at the same time is actually what Chinese Medicine recommends. In general, we try to incorporate more of what makes your symptoms improve, and try to decrease anything that worsens your symptoms.
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