Frequently Asked Questions

1. What kind of problems can acupuncture treat?

2. Can Acupuncture cure my complaint?

3. How often do I need to come for treatment?

4. How many treatments will I need?

5. Will I need to keep having treatment to stay well?

Q: What kind of problems can acupuncture treat?

Classical Five Element Acupuncture addresses symptoms and conditions by stimulating the bodymind's healing mechanisms.  That is to say, in Chinese medicine any complaint, whether of a physical, emotional or mental nature, is considered to be the result of imbalance in the overall system and sub-systems of the bodymind.  The first approach to treatment is to re-establish the smooth flow of energy, eliminating stagnation and blockage.  Classical Five Element acupuncture does not aim to attack the specific symptom, but to support the bodymind to heal itself. Classicsl Five Element acpuncture does not claim to be able to cure anything that cannot get better by itself. Therefore, whether your symptoms involve back pain, arthritis, neuralgia, depression, or any number of other common complaints; acupuncture can be beneficial in the healing process. This does not preclude Classical Five Element acupuncturists from doing treatments more specific to the particular complaint, and first aid treatments, but these are done with caution so as not to interfere with the healing process.

Q: Can Acupuncture cure my complaint?

The effectiveness of Acupuncture in the treatment of specific complaints is dependent on a number of factors; the severity of the problem, how long the problem has persisted before seeking acupuncture treatment, and perhaps most importantly, the overall constitutional health of the patient before the problem occurred.  Additional ongoing factors would most certainly include lifestyle, including diet, rest, exercise and stress.  

Many medical practitioners refrain from using the word "cure".  Western medical doctors, for example, usually talk about a "remission".  Cure suggests a static condition.  Take a very simple example: the majority of broken bones heal with no problems and so could be said to be cured; however, if the person sustained exactly the same accident again they could have a reoccurrence of the same injury.  Similarly every illness arises for a reason; any complaint could reoccur if the causes that produced it in the first place are repeated.

Very acute complaints particularly the everyday kind of colds and flu's get better even without treatment of any kind, these are known as self-limiting complaints.  Similarly if we cut ourselves or break a bone these heal with little more than supportive measures such as stitches or splints at the most. Acupuncture can assist this normal healing and recovery.  Even more serious complaints sometimes surprise people by spontaneously clearing up.

It is a basic belief in wholistic health care that health is the natural state and the bodymind is a self-maintaining and self-healing mechanism, always striving toward re-creating the natural state of balance.   Classical Acupuncture has as its goal to eliminate the obstacles preventing the body-mind from achieving this natural state of balance.  When symptoms occur, it is a "red flag" indicating the balance has been compromised.  Rather than simply palliate the symptom, which essentially would eliminate the body's danger signal mechanism, Acupuncture addresses both the cause of the problem and its symptomatic manifestation.  As long as balance is maintained, the potential to remain symptom-free is maximized.

Q: How often do I need to come for treatment?

The answer to this question can be understood in relation to the type of conditon. Generally speaking, the more acute the condition, the more frequently treatment is required, until the acute stage is abated. In practice patients do not often go to acupuncturist for purely acute complaints.

Acute: A sudden infection or injury in someone of previously good health. Divided into two categories:
A). an acute conditon or an everyday injury of a self-limiting nature does not need such intensive treatment.
B) a more severe conditon of an acute and severe type. Frequent, closely spaced treatment is indicated. This might mean, depending on circumstances, every day, or 2 or 3 times per week until the severity of the condition reduces.

Chronic: May be divided into two main types.
A). An ailment that is long standing
B). May be relatively recent but is clearly persistent; i.e. not getting better in the usual expected time period for such an ailment. 

Generally speaking treatment that aims to help the body heal itself is done less frequently than for acute complaints, but over alonger period of time. Typically once per week until the symptoms begin to clear and then treatments are gradually spaced further and further apart.

Q: How many treatments will I need?

 Generally speaking, most patients begin receiving treatment once per week for at least the first five or six sessions.  Then, as the person begins to feel generally better, and improvement becomes obvious to the practitioner through diagnostic tools such as color and odor observation and pulse diagnosis, the sessions may be gradually spaced further and further apart.  It is the purpose of Classical Acupuncture treatment to intervene less and less in order to allow the patient's body-mind to achieve balance on its own.  Ultimately, the goal is a partnership between the patient and the practitioner, wherein the patient is able to maintain balance in their own lives through proper nutrition, exercise, and rest; and the practitioner is available for seasonal "tune-ups" or for occasional treatments should life intervene and the patient be knocked out of balance through external circumstances.  (For example, the holidays might bring late nights and overindulgence which weakens the constitutional health and makes one more vulnerable to viruses and injury).

Having said this, long-standing chronic complaints can require a longer period of treatment.  There is a "rule of thumb" in the tradition of wholistic healing that a month of treatment is generally needed for every year of an illness.  This is very inexact and there is wide individual variation but it does give some idea of average expectations.

Q: Will I need to keep having treatment to stay well?

It is not uncommon for people to use Acupuncture as preventive health care.  However, provided one leads a balanced life style, it is certainly possible to maintain one's health and well-being for very long periods of time, providing external circumstances do not prove too taxing.  In fact, many practitioners consider optimum health to be defined by how well we recover from occasional illness, rather than whether or not we actually avoid illness at all.  For this reason, we encourage patients to follow the usual recommended course of treatment with gradual spacing in order to assure that the body-mind is able to gain strength and independence step by step. Then we are available for support when circumstances strain one's ability to maintain the balance needed to stay healthy.  Certainly we recommend a tune up at the change of seasons, when the body is having to make a major homeostatic climatic adjustment. 


Attack: A treatment approach designed to directly deal with the specific symptom. Strongly indicated if the ailment is life threatening. Although more likely to produce immediate results if done strongly, but these may not be as long lasting and potentially may not be the best treatment for restoring true balance to the system, and potentially leading to other complications.

Bodymind: a term that is used to convey the inseparability of Bodymind. Modern medicine recognizes that the body affects the mind and the mind affects the body. Classical Chinese medicine these two are one.

Classical: Classical Chinese Medicine adheres strongly to the principles of the earliest known texts on Chinese Medicine. It is based upon two main texts that may have their origins some 2500 years ago. The Nei Jing (divided into the Su Wen and the Ling Shu) and the Nan Jing. This term Classical Chinese Medicine is used to distinguish from the modern standardized form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM for short).

Support: Treatment intended to supporting the persons own healing ability. May not produce such immediate results, but more likely to produce long lasting results. Is usually less aggressive in approach, i.e. fewer needles, finer needles, less manipulation and more superficial depth.