Frequently Asked Questions
What is acupuncture? In short, acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into specific points on the body to address a symptom pattern. Treatments balance the body's vital energy, or qi. Diagnosis takes place through discussion, palpation, observation, listening, and smelling. Acupuncturists take the pulses in three positions on each wrist and at three depths. Additionally, I may palpate your abdomen or forearms. I may examine your posture and range of motion. I may ask to look at your tongue and I may palpate your limbs. In this way I aim to treat the root causes of ailments while also providing symptom relief.
What do people get acupuncture for? Acupuncture may provide relief for a wide range of conditions, chronic illnesses, injuries, mental wellness and beyond. Chinese medicine is able to address common colds, fatigue, general unease in life, side effects from chemotherapy, chronic pain and much more. It is a complete health system and can work very well with conventional Western medicine, talk therapy, physical therapy, chiropractics, massage, etc.
How many times will I need to come for treatments? Some people can get relief immediately and others may need to come once a week for 6-8 weeks to see improvement for long-term or serious conditions. I am always happy to discuss treatment plans and to work together with you to ensure the best outcomes possible.
I've had bad experiences with healthcare providers before. How are you different? I work from a social justice approach to healthcare. I believe that illness is often a result of social inequality and trauma. I approach your wellness from a collaborative perspective and seek to empower you to advocate for your needs. I am also member of the Association for Size Diversity and Health and am a queer practitioner. I am currently in the Body Trust Provider Training through Be Nourished.
As a person with thin white privilege, why should I trust you with my healthcare if I'm not a person with those privileges? Bottom line is that I can never fully understand your experience, but I can provide compassionate, informed care. I make every effort to educate myself about the experiences of others and to attempt to create as safe a space as possible. At some point I'll also write a blog about this that goes into more personal detail about why I'm passionate about these things. This matters to me because people I love dearly do not have some or many of the privileges I have had.
Why do you use the word "fat"? The terms "overweight" and "obese" problematize certain bodies in research and the medical world. They necessitate that we immediately position larger bodies as somehow wrong or unhealthy. I am fat positive. The term "fat" can be both reclaimed and destigmatized and simultaneously used as a nonjudgmental descriptor. Health and poor health occur at any size and size is rarely a useful measure of health. Metabolic and pain indicators are much more useful to me as a practitioner.
I work full-time and am a parent, I'm a full-time care giver, I don't have time for treatment. OK, so this is not a question, but if you work full-time and are a parent or you are a full-time care giver, you don't have time to be sick or tired. Taking care of yourself can be incredibly difficult but especially important. Scheduling time for self-care when another is in need of you can feel selfish, a nightmare to schedule, impossible to afford, or just not the highest priority. You may even feel too tired to plan time for a treatment or to get to my office. I would like to help you with this. Please feel free to contact me and we can try to figure this out together.
What is moxibustion? Moxibustion, or moxa, is the application of an herb to an acupuncture point. The herb is either burned directly on the skin (but put out before reaching the skin surface) or indirectly above the skin. The practice is very old and very safe. It may smell like cannabis, but it isn't and it doesn't have the same side effects - you won't get the munchies or high. Moxa comes from the plant mugwort or artemisia. It is used for a variety of conditions and is common in our treatment styles.
What is cupping? Cupping can provide myofascial release and relief from musculoskeletal conditions. Glass cups are heated and quickly applied to the body creating a mild suction. Cups may be left in place or used to "massage" the body. It is most commonly used on the back and usually feels very good. It often leaves small reddish/purple marks on the body that may make it appear that you have been attacked by a very large octopus. Marks usually fade within a few days and should not be tender. We will work with you to avoid leaving marks in areas that may be exposed during special occasions or for work and such.
Will acupuncture hurt? The needles we use are much thinner than the needles used in most other professions. Many times patients do not feel needle insertions at all. That said, some points are more uncomfortable than others. I will work with you to ensure that treatments provide maximum benefit and to provide different techniques to reduce any discomfort. For those who are extremely needle sensitive or children, I also offer non-insertion treatments! Please ask.
I think I'm getting a cold, should I cancel my appointment? Your treatment can provide relief from common cold symptoms! You may experience relief from congestion, aches, and even a shortening of the duration of your cold. Please keep your appointment and let me help you!
I've had acupuncture before, will this be the same? There are many different styles of acupuncture. Some treatments provide time for you to rest with the needles in while others do not. Feel free to let me know what you are used to and we can discuss how my treatments may differ or be similar to what you have experienced and why.
Will people think I'm a new-age hippy if I get acupuncture? Not that there is anything wrong with that. I love "new-age hippies." But no. Acupuncture is becoming more and more widely accepted by the mainstream medical world. It is used by some branches of the military, many insurances cover treatments, and it is quickly becoming a frontline treatment for chronic pain. There are even hospitals now that use acupuncture in their E.R.s and many that use it for integrative cancer care!
What do you do specifically to support your fat patients? I have table extenders that make my table wider so your arms can relax while you are being treated. I have extra bolsters and pillows to help support your back and neck. When I use gowns, they are extra large or I treat so that you don't have to wear one. I have treated fat patients so I have ways to work with your body that decrease discomfort when I am palpating or locating an acupuncture point. I do not weigh patients, ever. I have access to an extra large BP cuff if I need to take your BP.
What do you do to specifically support your patients of color/indigenous patients? I recognize that I have white privilege, that Western medical spaces have historically (and often currently) not been safe spaces for BIPOC. I recognize that health is related to systemic oppression and work to provide as much autonomy in your care as possible. I recognize that I have a lot to learn and that I will never truly understand your life, but I will treat you with compassion and respect. I will avoid expecting you to do the emotional labor of educating me about BIPOC. I also offer equity pricing. Please ask me about this if you are interested.
Can acupuncture cure everything? I am a HUGE fan of acupuncture so I'd like to say "Yes!" to this, but the answer is of course "no, it can't cure everything." Acupuncture can be used as a stand alone approach to some conditions, but also works very well in conjunction with other modalities such as physical therapy, chiropractics, naturopathy, and traditional Western medicine.