We use 6 different styles of acupuncture, depending on the needs of the patient:
- Electroacupuncture based on modern research and traditional practices
- Japanese acupuncture: gentle and effective
- Traditional TCM acupuncture: basic Chinese acupuncture
- Master Tung’s acupuncture: ancient family style, highly effective
- Dry Needling: trigger point treatment for tight muscles
The National Acupuncture Foundation reports: “The evidence shows that, when performed by trained individuals, acupuncture is an extremely safe procedure and has a remarkably low record of accidents. The only significant danger to the public lies in lack of standards and in performance of acupuncture by improperly or poorly trained individuals.” (NAF Safety Record of Acupuncture, 1995)
About the Needles
Acupuncture needles are medical instruments, approved for use as a medical device by the FDA, and sold only to licensed healthcare providers. More a filament than a needle, they are very comfortable when used properly.
They are sterilized by ethylene oxide gas in manufacturing, and are packaged just as any other medical device to remain sterile until opened. In Iowa, Licensed Acupuncturists are required to use single-use sterile disposable needles. Other health practitioners who use acupuncture in Iowa are not held to this standard.
Clean Needle Technique
Every Licensed Acupuncturist is trained in Clean Needle Technique and is examined on this as part of the national board certification exam. Other practitioners such as chiropractors and medical doctors who provide acupuncture are not required to pass this exam.
Licensed Acupuncturist Training and Qualification Standards
Professional acupuncturists in the US are trained extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine and related modalities in 3 and 4 year Master’s and Doctoral programs.
This allows them to take board examinations given by the National Committee for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). This is the licensing exam for Iowa acupuncturists.
What to Look for In Choosing an Acupuncturist
Iowa law states that a medical doctor, dentist, chiropractor or osteopathic doctor can perform acupuncture without any training. However, Iowa law requires Licensed Acupuncturists to have taken and passed at least the Diplomate of Acupuncture exam given by the NCCAOM.
The Reason for Our Concern
We are interested in helping people in Iowa find qualified and effective care with acupuncture. Practitioners with less than the highest and nationally standardized levels of training may not help patients, practice safely, or demonstrate the standards of care of licensed acupuncturists.
This keeps future patients from having access to the care they need from acupuncture. We also hope to protect and enhance the profession and the practice of acupuncture in our state and the US at large.
We use the acupuncture cold laser from Luminex. It is designed to be most effective for the treatment of injury and inflammation and is completely safe and effective. We recommend laser treatments two to three times weekly when used in this way.
We may suggest that cupping is the best treatment for your condition. At this time we offer traditional cupping with glass jars, sanitized for your safety.
Gua Sha is used in many of the same cases as cupping, to relieve pain and increase flexibility in the back, neck, and shoulders. It is preferable to cupping in some cases because it is quicker, more focused, and can be used more efficiently in smaller areas. Just as in cupping, there is negligible risk to the patient from gua sha.
Moxibustion is one of the lesser known practices within traditional East Asian medicine. In it, small amounts of a herbal material are burned near the skin in order to warm the skin with infrared light of a particular frequency. This warmth stimulates acupuncture points to make the treatment more effective. In these photos you see an incense stick lighting a tiny bit of Mona on top of a heap of ash from prior moxas. This is traditional Japanese style. In the second photo you see a moxa stick brought near the corner of the little toe. This is a traditional part of the protocol for turning a breech baby before birth. In the last photo you see cones of moxa lined up next to a matchbook for perspective. The smallest ones are called “thread moxas” and the largest “cones” are part of a lovely Japanese tradition where the moxa is lit and then lifted off the skin before a burn can result.
Ear Acupuncture, Auriculotherapy
Auriculotherapy is another term for Ear Acupuncture. This method can augment other acupuncture styles and especially good for pain management. In our clinic we use a device called the Pointo-select which allows us great accuracy in locating the best points for a given patient on a given day.
We will do our best to make you comfortable and explain your care to you. For the most part, people find acupuncture relaxing and enjoyable. Sheets and blankets are available and the room is kept warm because many people get cool during the treatments.
Before the first meeting, you will be asked to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire dealing with every area of your health. This allows the acupuncturist to make a complete evaluation of your health and the problem you seek help for. We will then interview you carefully and will take the time to answer all of your questions. There will be an examination to complete your evaluation. This examination will involve the use of the AcuGraph, a tool based on ryodoraku (created in Japan in the 1950s) where we measure the electrical properties of the acupuncture channels and print out a colored graph that shows your starting point. We will repeat this evaluation regularly so you can see your progress, from an objective point of view.
A preliminary Asian medical diagnosis and a treatment plan will be made for you, including a selection of acupuncture points for you. Then, an acupuncture treatment will be done, which is designed to open the flow of energy in the body and begin to treat your condition.
The first visit is an opportunity for you to experience what acupuncture is like, and to see how you feel. During the first few visits is also a time for us to discern how you respond and make note of any important things that were not learned during the interview.
We consider the first 3-6 sessions to be an extended evaluation, during which the acupuncturist will learn more about your picture and what helps you the most. Remember that acupuncture is a process, and at each visit more progress is made. We prefer that those initial treatments be made twice weekly if possible so that the effect of the acupuncture can accumulate and begin to change your body function.
During the treatment you will lie on a treatment table similar to when getting a massage but you will lie on your back and side. Most of the points used will be in the arms and legs.
When the needles are inserted, people sometimes feel a tiny prick as they go through the skin. For the most part the needles are not painful after the initial insertion.
The treatment will last for a total of 30 to 45 minutes. The needles can always be removed at any time.
Many people feel benefits of treatment immediately. Others may not notice a change for a day or two, or until after a few treatments. This probably depends on one’s sensitivity to acupuncture, the length and severity of the illness, what other treatments are being used, and what drugs may be in the system.
We like to say we do “time release” acupuncture because our patients have taught us that the most effect can be observed on the second day after your visit.
Some people find that they feel like resting or napping after the treatment. Others feel energetic and clear immediately. Patients are fine to drive themselves home.
We may also offer you traditional Chinese herbal formulas or supplements indicated by Oriental medicine analysis of your problem. We can discuss this at your session.
Acupuncture is subtle in its effect, and like chiropractic care or visits to the gym, often requires repeated treatments to establish the desired changes in your system. Therefore at the beginning of treatment we suggest that people attend a session at least twice per week for four weeks.
We then reevaluate your progress and may go to frequent visits. In this way, acupuncture can be used as part of your wellness and prevention program.
We believe that you are the best expert on your health and health care needs. We expect that you take responsibility for your health. Your acupuncturist will make recommendations, and it is your choice to follow them.
You may find surprising things when you carefully monitor what makes you better and worse. We will do everything we can to assist you in your pursuit of health and wellness, and can make referrals to other providers or therapies that we think will be helpful to you.
We are always available to answer your questions.
Pulse, Tongue, and Abdominal Palpation
We use Pulse diagnosis as part of our evaluation.
Tongue diagnosis is also important for understanding your condition. All acupuncturists are trained in the art of tongue diagnosis, but its greatest strength is for the prescription of herb formulas.
In abdominal diagnosis different areas of the abdomen give information about the function of the body. This is used often in Japanese acupuncture.
The AcuGraph is a new tool we have added to provide you with objective information about how your acupuncture channel system is doing. In that assessment we touch points on each channel with an electrical probe to assess that channel. That data goes into the computer program where some complex calculations are done and out comes a full color graph that shows the health of all twelve channels. This is your baseline graph when done at the first visit. Over the course of your time with us, we will repeat the graph on a regular basis to see how you are doing and which of the channels are in most need of help. People love seeing how the graph improves.
Sometimes people’s pain may remain a bit after the meridians appear to be healthier. As the graph bars all turn green, it shows that your system is getting healthy and can now regulate and heal itself. Acupuncture must first improve the health of the body before solid pain relief can show up. Getting rid of pain without improving the underlying energy system is just not a long term solution. We are interested in helping you find true health, not just covering up your pain.
Licensed Acupuncturists produce good results by using Asian diagnosis to treat the underlying processes in the body as well as your symptoms. This is in contrast to using a conventional medicine diagnosis to create a treatment plan.
We make custom treatment programs for each individual patient; this is the standard of care in our profession.