This is my attempt to answer a few of those questions that I’m asked frequently as honestly as I can.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE HURT?
Most people associate needles with getting shots. Shots hurt, and therefore the mere mention of needles trigger a bad association.
Acupuncture needles are different. They’re smaller. They do not inject a liquid. We avoid puncturing veins. Generally, a patient doesn’t even feel them.
BUT to say no, they are not painful, is not entirely honest either. Occasionally, there is a pinch or a moment of discomfort, maybe even a burning sensation. To qualify it. If a session involves 20 needles, a patient won’t feel 17 of them. Two might feel a pinch for one second, and one might have a weird zing that lasts 3 seconds.
It’s nothing even remotely close to getting a shot.
To put it into perspective, the child pictured here is my goddaughter when she was only six years old.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Chinese Medicine is based on Taoist philosophy, which (grossly oversimplified) believes the universe is made up of Yin & Yang (or substance and energy).
Harmony is achieved when Yin & Yang are balanced (i.e. there is enough energy to carry a substance where it needs to flow, no more and no less).
Practitioners of this medicine have examined the human body through this lens for thousands of years, associating a variety of symptoms with energy blockages located at certain points of the body.
Inserting an acupuncture needle into those points helps the energy flow and slowly restores balance to Yin & Yang.
In terms of Western Science? Well, we don’t know. There are theories, but no definitive answer.
My favorite theory is this. The body’s immune system is designed to protect us from anything that penetrates the skin.
Acupuncture penetrates the skin in several locations thus putting the immune system on high alert.
Yes! there are different styles of acupuncture!
Although we call it “Chinese,” this medicine is practiced all over Asia and has been for centuries. So, of course, many different styles have developed.
The color-tipped needles pictured in the first photo are Japanese. This style uses thinner, smaller needles and makes an effort to have a completely pain free experience. This style is very popular all around LA.
I find this approach works great for kids and for adults with emotional issues, but sometimes it doesn’t provide a strong enough stimulation to achieve the results a patient desires.
I think the great thing about being trained in several different styles of acupuncture is that it allows me the flexibility to meet the patient where they are and achieve the relief they so desperately seek.
I always tell my patients, “I have one rule.” Then I pause for dramatic effect. “Your body, your rules.” Since there are so many different approaches we can try, we are not tethered to any one idea. If even a single needle makes someone uncomfortable, I encourage them to speak up. There’s always another approach.
Meridians are like roadmaps. No destination is limited to a single route.