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Acupuncture Information

What is Acupuncture?
Originating in China more than 5,000 years ago, acupuncture is the main treatment type in traditional Chinese medicine. It is based on the principle of “qi”, a vital energy that circulates through the body in twelve invisible energy lines known as meridians.  An imbalance in the flow of qi throughout a meridian manifests disease.
Acupuncturists insert  solid thin needles into specified points along meridian lines to restore balance  and influence the flow of qi. There are over 1,000 acupuncture points on the body.” From


What happens during an average acupuncture treatment?
The acupuncturist interviews the patients, observes the patient’s physical condition, and formulates a diagnosis and treatment plan based on what they have observed. The acupuncturist will choose acupuncture points and after treating the patient, will usually let the patient relax with the needles in for 15-30 minutes, and sometimes longer in special cases. The acupuncturist may also employ  moxabustion , massage, or electroacupuncture during or after the treatment. The acupuncturist will then take the needles out, and may prescribe herbs for the patient to go home with.


Is it painful?
Most people associate needles with pain and discomfort because of their experiences receiving vaccinations and shots with hypodermic needles. Hypodermic needles are hollow in the center and are much larger than the kinds of needles used in acupuncture. Acupuncture uses thin solid filiform needles that are often the width of a few human hairs and are flexible. This type of needle often causes either no discomfort or a mild discomfort when entering the skin. Patients often do not even know when a needle has been placed immediately.  We are very sensitive to the comfort level of our patients, and use a very gentle technique to ensure that the experience of acupuncture is not an uncomfortable one!

How does acupuncture work?
In Chinese Medicine the mechanism of acupuncture is described as the movement and manipulation of “qi” (vital energy) to restore harmonious flow of energy throughout the body. Much research has been done up to the present day to find scientifically proven mechanisms of action. The interior and exterior of our bodies are linked through many body systems. We all know that gentle touches or touching a hot stove can cause very different reactions internally through the release of endorphins to relax us and ease pain, or through the release of stress hormones to wake us up quickly in case of danger. Just as such small things can cause large changes in our internal equilibrium, so can acupuncture influence both the external and internal systems of our bodies through stimulation of acupuncture points all over the body. Visit our Scientific Theories Regarding Acupuncture page to see a summary of the various explanations and theories of how acupuncture works.


How will I feel after getting acupuncture?
Many patients feel one or more of the following after receiving acupuncture; pain relief, relaxation, drowsiness, “spacey”, elevated mood, sleepiness, energized, tingly, or sometimes nothing at all. How a patient responds is often related to the chief concern they are getting treated for and their underlying constitution at the time of treatment. We recommend that patients do not book their appointments so they have to run out the door as soon as they are finished. We recommend patients take a few minutes to regroup after treatment, have a sip of tea or water, and make sure they are feeling alert enough to drive safely.  Please contact us day or night if you have symptoms after a treatment that concern you. Holly can be reached at 415-533-7023 by call or text message, or by email.


Does Acupuncture have any side-effects?
Usually patients experience no side-effects when receiving acupuncture. The most common minor side-effect of acupuncture is an occasional slight bruising at the place the needle was placed. Moderate side-effects can be light-headedness, fainting or  hematoma (large bruise). Positive side-effects often experienced are elevated mood, stress-relief, and muscle relaxation, even when patients are being treated for an unrelated condition. Rarely adverse events such as puncture of an internal organ have been reported, but these are usually only observed when the acupuncturist has incorrectly applied treatment.


Do you use disposable needles?
We ONLY use single-use disposable needles, as is called for by California state law.

What kinds of conditions can acupuncture treat?

•   Anxiety & Depression

 •   Arthritis, Tendonitis, & Joint pain

 •   Asthma & Allergies

 •   Auto Injuries 

 •   Bladder and Kidney Infections 

 •   Cardiac Palpitations (Irregular Heartbeat)

 •   Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

 •   Common Cold & Influenza

 •   Degenerative Disk Disorders 

 •   Diet, Nutrition, & Weight Control

 •   Fibromyalgia

 •   Headaches & Migraines

 •   Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

 •   Indigestion, Gas, Bloating, Constipation

 •   Insomnia

 •   Menopause Symptoms 

 •   Musculoskeletal pain 

 •   Nausea 

 •   Orthopedic Conditions

 •   Pain – other kinds

 •   PMS & Menstrual Irregularity

 •   Sports Injuries 

 •   Tension / Stress Syndromes 

 •   Tinnitus 

 •   Work Injuries


How long does it take to work?
The seriousness and acute or chronic status of a concern influences the amount of time that patients can expect to see some improvement. Acute diseases are often effectively treated with a small number of treatments over a short period of time, while chronic conditions are usually given a longer treatment plan. Chronic conditions are often more complex and while improvement is generally seen within a few treatments, it may take a few months before real progress is made.


What kinds of herbs are used in Chinese Medicine?
The Chinese Medicinal Pharmacopeia contains thousand of different medicinal ingredients. Many ingredients come from different parts of plants, such as roots, stems, leaves, twigs, flowers, fruit, and bark. Other ingredients are made from mineral or animal matter. While many of the names of Chinese herbs may sound unfamiliar, you would be surprised at how many you can recognize. Check out our page Food as Medicine to see some herbs you may have in your kitchen right now.

Are the herbs you use safe? I’ve heard products from China can be dangerous?

We purchase our herbs from companies which guarantee their products are manufactured in accord with the highest standards. Many problems with herbs are found in products that are copycats and are imitating a well known product, but do not contain the ingredients they are supposed to. This is why it is important to purchase herbs from a licensed professional who can be sure of the company their products are purchased from.


How are herbs taken?
In Chinese Medicine, herbs are available in a few different forms. Some acupuncturists use raw herbs, which they sell to patients in batches that are cooked at home and consumed within a two day period. Some patients do not have the time to cook herbs (which may take a few hours), and prefer to take herbs in a concentrated powder form. These powders are dehydrated teas that have been previously cooked by the manufacturer and are turned into granules or powders that can be consumed in a capsule or dissolved in hot water. The final form of Chinese Herbs is patent tablets, which are small tablets or coated pills that consist of common formulations of herbs used in practice. While pills provide the easiest convenience, many practitioners prefer powders or raw herbs which can be formulated best to meet the specific needs of the patient.


Can I go buy my own herbs?
Due to the presence of counterfeit products in the market, that may be unsafe for consumption or insufficiently tested, we recommend you ONLY purchase your herbs from a licensed professional.


Are there side-effects when taking herbal medicine?
Most patients do not experience any side-effects from their herbal medications. Occasionally patients report mild gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, or constipation. In these cases the herbs are adjusted and the symptoms usually do not return. With the ingestion of any new herbs, patients should be alert for signs of an allergic reaction. Patients should notify their acupuncturist of any known allergies. Signs of an allergic reaction may include swelling, itching, hives, numbness of the tongue or lips and rashes. If any of these symptoms are present, alert your acupuncturist, discontinue use of the product, and call 911 if symptoms get worse, are severe or involve breathing difficulties.


How long will my first visit be?
Your acupuncturist will conduct an in-depth interview during your first visit that will make it longer than all following visits. This allows the acupuncturist to get a complete picture of your overall health and identify any secondary concerns you may have. You should come 15 minutes before your appointment time to fill out your paperwork before the visit, or you can download our forms online and fill them out before you get to the office. You should allot 90 minutes for this first visit.


How long will subsequent visits be?
Follow-up appointments are usually 45-60 minutes.


How often do I need to come in?
During your first visit, your acupuncturist will recommend a treatment plan and give you the frequency of visits necessary for your chief concern. The frequency may depend on whether this is a new or long-standing concern, and the severity of the concern. Some patients come once per week for a few months, while other come 2-3 times per week for concerns that need frequent treatment.

What kind of clothing should I wear to acupuncture appointments?

You should wear loose and non-constrictive clothing to your visits, such as t-shirts, shorts, yoga pants, tank tops and any other clothing you feel comfortable in. If the acupuncturist cannot reach a point, she will ask you to remove an article of clothing and will give you a sheet to drape over you to maintain your comfort and privacy. Patients often remain fully clothed for most treatments. Jeans and skin tight clothing are not recommended.


Do I need to eat before getting acupuncture?
We do not recommend patients to have an empty stomach before an acupuncture treatment. Patients who are very hungry, tired, or weak are more likely to faint or feel light-headed after a treatment, than a patient who has food in their stomach. Although fainting is uncommon, we still like to be aware of this risk and encourage people who are very hungry to eat something prior to the treatment.  We will also not treat patients if they are drunk, violent, or need the immediate care of an emergency medicine professional. Please call 911 for any emergencies.


What methods of payment do you accept?
We accept cash, personal checks, Visa, and MasterCard.


When is payment due?
Payment is due at the time of service. For insurance payments, we will bill you for the difference of your responsibility according to your insurance plan, and what you paid so far. Please note that if your insurance is denied, we will attempt to assist in getting your treatment covered, but ultimately you are responsible for the cost of uncovered services.


Do you take insurance?
We are an in-network provider for Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Health-net, Aetna, Kaiser, Cigna, MPI, Pinnacle, and Kaiser Plans, in addition to a few others. We can also accept other insurances, such as united health care as an out-of-network provider. To find out if your insurance will cover acupuncture, call your individual plan. Ask your plan if you have acupuncture benefits, if they will cover treatment for the health conditions you have (because sometimes they exclude reimbursement for certain conditions), if you have a co-payment that is due at the time of service, what your coinsurance amount is if you have a PPO, and if your deductible must be met first before they will pay. Ask how much your deductible is for in-network and out-of network providers, and how much has been satisfied so far.  The answers to these questions will help you to get a clear understanding of what types of expenses you will be responsible for after getting treatment. We can assist you in getting answers to some of these questions, but we are not responsible for payment or non-payment by your insurance company.