How does acupuncture work?
The practice of acupuncture is based on the theory of Qi and its pathways known as meridians. Qi can be thought of as “life force” or bio-energy, that which makes us alive, animates us, causes growth, development, healing, and makes possible all the biological functions in the body that require not only energy but direction on a cellular level.

According to theory, Qi moves in the body via designated pathways called meridians much like blood pulses through the circulatory system in blood vessels or like nerve impulses move about the nervous system. Blockages in any of these systems cause pain, loss of function or sensation, and eventually disease or even death. The same is true of Qi; it must move along its designated courses without obstruction, in the correct direction, and within speed and volume tolerations in order for there to be optimal health.

When Qi does not move in its healthy pattern, acupuncture needles can be inserted at designated “points” along the meridians to correct the dysfunction. Each point has its unique location, angle, depth, precautionary specifications as well as actions and indications. The acupuncturist who has been trained in Oriental medical theory and diagnosis, selects points that, when activated by the insertion of the needle, work together to relieve pain and stress and to restore the natural flow of Qi, thus re-establishing the body’s natural state and healing capacity. 

What conditions can acupuncture treat?
Medical conditions that have received national media attention regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture include pain management, headaches, infertility, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Click here  for more extensive list of conditions.

Is acupuncture painful?
The experience of pain is unique to the individual, but my experience has been that patients are pleasantly surprised by how painless it can be. Most experience a sensation with the insertion of the needle that ranges from “You mean that’s it?” to, “Wow! that felt weird!” It is very rare for a patient to experience pain beyond a momentary pinch. But in the case when the patient indicates discomfort, the particular needle is not retained, but withdrawn. An alternate point may then be selected that will be better tolerated. Sensations on individual points will vary from person to person and from time to time, being more sensitive the first time needled or when there is blockage on the corresponding meridian.

What is “needleless” acupuncture?
While the claim is made that acupuncture can be performed without needles, the so-called “needleless acupuncture” or “needle-free acupuncture” techniques are not acupuncture at all. While some licensed acupuncturists, who are trained in the practice of Oriental medicine, offer such techniques, few would claim that they are equal to acupuncture in their therapeutic value.

“Needleless Acupuncture” devices are purported to work with either light, sound, or electro-stimulation (tens unit) therapy that is applied to the skin. These techniques do not require licensure or training in acupuncture or Oriental medicine.

Acupuncture with out the “needle puncture” is simply not possible. Stimulating acupuncture points manually, for example, is called “acupressure.” Hence, stimulating an acupuncture point in any way other than “puncture” with a needle, is not, by definition, acupuncture. Those who advertise acupuncture and then offer something else are practicing deceptive advertising driven by a desire to add “acupuncture” services and thus cash in on the growing trend.

An example of this deceptive advertising is the “Acutron Mentor”. In 2001, the FDA cited one of the manufactureres of such a device for violations for making claims not consistent with its licensure. (click link to view the FDA document.)

Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into designated points according to the theories of acupuncture and Oriental medicine and Its practice has been prefected and proven for over 3000 years in China, something that cannot be said about “needleless” techniques. Further, stimulating acupuncture points without indepth knowledge of their indications according to traditional Chinese medical theory, can at best be ineffective, and at worst, exacerbate your condition.

Does insurance cover acupuncture?
More and more insurance companies are including acupuncture in their coverage options. Contact your benefits specialist to find out if your policy covers acupuncture. Blue Pearl Institute does not bill insurance.

Is acupuncture like voodoo?
I have to chuckle a little at this question, but it is a real question that real people have asked. So, to address it in all seriousness, the answer is, “No, acupuncture has nothing in common with voodoo.” To begin with, acupuncture uses sterile needles designed specifically for the medical procedure while voodoo generally involves pins that are neither sterile or medically specific. Further, acupuncture needles are inserted carefully and skillfully into a patient for the purpose of promoting healing and well-being while voodoo pins are stuck capriciously into a poppet with ill-intent toward whomsoever the poppet represents. Finally, there is a body of scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture while there is no such body of evidence in support of the efficatiousness of voodoo. I hope that covers it…

If not, submit your question to janene.bluepearl@gmail.com.

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