What should I know and expect from my acupuncturist?

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are getting more and more popular in the world. For the Chinese, it is a very old healing therapy and they know what goes on in an appointment and what to expect from an acupuncturist or herbologist. For people outside of China, it is still relatively new even though some countries like Japan, Korea, Vietnam have had it for a “long” time (still much less than China but have had it for 1000 years). In the United States, just like the other parts of the world, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is still very new. At the beginning, when the Chinese got into the US, they also brought their culture, traditions and customs, which included acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) but only in the Chinese communities. Maybe there were a few local Americans who knew and had experienced it as well. It did not become officially recognized until 1971 when President Nixon went to China. One of his journalists suddenly suffered from appendicitis in Beijing.  After an operation, he still suffered from a stomachache. Because he needed to get back on the job, he needed to get rid of the pain right away. The Chinese government sent him an acupuncturist and after a few needles, the pain disappeared. The New York Times reported the whole story about the journalist. Later on, all the major TV networks reported it as well. That is how Americans became more exposed to TCM and acupuncture. The story obviously gave the public the idea that acupuncture is good for pain. Some people even got the impression that acupuncture is only good for pain. However, that is not all it is good for.

Ever since, acupuncture and TCM have grown in popularity. Most states have legislation and regulation for acupuncture. An increasing number of  people started to apply acupuncture for their problems because NIH and WHO announced the conditions and diseases acupuncture and TCM can help. Also, the internet helps spread knowledge to more people. Statistically, at least 455 diseases and conditions can be helped by TCM and acupuncture.

We already have an article called “What Should I Do To Prepare For My First Acupuncturist Visit?” Now we want to tell you what you should expect from your acupuncturist. When you make an appointment, your acupuncturist or their assistant should tell you not to brush your tongue the day you come in or don’t have any colorful/staining food/staining drinks  before your appointment. Don’t come in with an empty or full stomach. When you talk to the acupuncturist, they need to go through your history of medical problems, not just the one you’re going to them for help. They should ask you about family history of medical problems too. The acupuncturist has to give you a picture of your conditions in terms of acupuncture and TCM diagnosis, food restrictions, activity restrictions, and some simple tips to improve your condition. If the acupuncturist gives you herbal pills/tea, they should tell you how to take the pills/tea, and about any side affects. You should mention if you’re allergic to any common pill or pill coatings/fillers, since they may contain wheat or corn starch etc. If you are seeing different professionals for help, sometimes the acupuncturist also needs to talk to the other specialist(s) about your situation and see if there any do’s/don’ts from the other specialist’s point of you. This will help the acupuncturists understand how to treat your condition better. The acupuncturist may need to refer you to take an X-Ray, MRI, etc. modern medical facilities and tests to see what is going on with your problem as well. Before the acupuncture treatment  begins, you should choose a comfortable position you won’t mind staying still in for a while. During acupuncture treatment, you shouldn’t feel the needles too much unless it is necessary and purposely done for certain conditions or needle techniques. After a few minutes, you should feel comfortable and relaxed. Generally, you will get good results if you feel comfortable and relaxed during treatment. You may need to see your acupuncturist once every other day to once a week or month. The frequency and results depends on your situation and how good your acupuncturist is. By the way, different acupuncturists will have different specialties too. Some patients need fifteen to twenty sessions to see significant changes, while some others maybe need once or twice.

Nowadays, some people say there are different styles of acupuncture, when they are all actually Chinese acupuncture. The bottom line is the type of acupuncture is supposed to be fitted to your disease or condition. Acupuncture can be done with or without the following: electricity, cupping, Chinese herbs, TDP (heat) lamps, massage, and modern medicine including physical therapy if necessary. Sometimes, your acupuncturist may need to refer you to a good different specialist if they think the combination can help you quicker. Occasionally, there are a few patents though that will probably feel worse first after getting acupuncture and then feel better.

Overall, it is a good idea to think about acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine when you have diseases and conditions because you can have amazing results if you try it. For example, you can avoid having an operation, drugs, and etcetera. Besides, the side effects, if any, are much less and will be easily overcome.