If you haven’t already filled out your paperwork, I will ask you to do so before we get started; please arrive at least 20 minutes early to do this.
Please prepare for your visit by doing the following:
- Eat at least an hour before your session, but don’t arrive hungry. A snack within the hour is fine.
- Come well-hydrated.
- Wear (or bring) loose-fitting clothing, or be prepared to remove clothes (in which case, you will be carefully draped with a sheet).
- If possible, avoid consuming alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, or foods & beverages that color your tongue (such as coffee or tea) immediately prior to treatment.
- Avoid vigorous exercise or sexual activity within the hour before (and after) treatment.
Even if you have had acupuncture before, every practitioner is quite different. In the 2,000 years or so since the first known Chinese medical texts were written, thousands of different lineages have developed, like branches off the main trunk of the tree. Different acupuncturists may prefer different modalities over others, use different tools, and operate from a somewhat different theoretical framework, and yet it all fits under the ample umbrella of East Asian medicine.
Although I stay current with new research and I use some contemporary techniques, protocols, and modalities (including nutritional science, music and sound healing, and orthopedic testing, among others), I’ve devoted the majority of my studies to the roots and trunk of the tree – the classical understanding of nature and how it informs medical theory, techniques, and prescription guidelines. So, I’d like to share a little about how my appointments tend to be.
For your first visit, we will talk about your intake form, and I may ask some follow-up questions. You may also ask me questions then, or at any time during your session (though there are times when I will need to concentrate and will not be able to talk until I finish what I’m doing). I enjoy talking with my patients, and welcome anything you wish for me to know about your health and your life, as well as any curiosity and questions that you have.
I will then feel your pulses, not only to check your heart rate but also to feel the quality of movement and the depth at which the impulse is strongest at many different positions on your wrist. I may also check your pulse on your head, neck, or ankles. This may take anywhere from 5-20 minutes. Sometimes I also will, with your consent, palpate the abdomen, or your legs and arms, all of which give me important diagnostic information, allowing me to more accurately assess your current state of health.
I will then insert 10-20 very fine, sterile, single-use acupuncture needles, which generally will be retained for about 20 minutes. I may leave you alone during this time to relax, though I will be very close by, and will check on you periodically.
I may incorporate other modalities into your treatment, such as massage, cupping, topical herb application, moxibustion, or sound therapy.
You may feel energized and mentally sharp after treatment, or you may feel emotional, or very tired and want a nap. These responses (and many others) are normal, and can be hard to predict.
Ideally, you would schedule your appointment so that you don’t have to rush into a very high-pressure-, physically-, or emotionally challenging situation immediately after. When that’s not possible, please let me know so I can plan a treatment appropriate to your needs that day.
After your treatment, please do what you can to relax and take it easy for the rest of the day, avoid exposure to cold or strong drafts of wind, and refrain from heavy exertion. If you can avoid using alcohol or other strong substances, that will also be helpful. All modalities of Chinese medicine offer the body-mind-spirit new information to incorporate, which can take time. Healing will be most thorough when time and space are allotted in which lasting transformation can take place.
If you would like to continue treatment with me, we will discuss how to proceed at your next appointment. I generally suggest starting with several treatments close together, preferably every week for 4-10 weeks. For acute injuries and pain, I often suggest 2 or 3 treatments in the first week, if possible, and can work with you to make that financially possible. By starting with greater frequency in the initial phase, we build momentum, which allows for significant progress towards your goals, and establishes a good foundation for long-term health and maintenance.
The majority of chronic health problems will require at least a year of treatments that take place at least monthly, with herbs taken for the entire time. A frequently-cited (though not always precise) equation is that it can take one month of treatment for every year of the disease or pain pattern.
Once some improvement and stability has been reached, I generally see people every 2-4 weeks, as you prefer. This may be a time to simply adjust your herbal formula, may include an acupuncture session, and might even lead us to re-evaluate your goals and our treatment plan.
For those with very complex health conditions, or who are taking strong pharmaceutical drugs, more time may be required for treatment to make a significant improvement. When conditions are more simple and/or acute, we may achieve your goals faster; everyone is different, and your healing depends on many variables, including your overall state of health, the season and climate, and your lifestyle necessities and choices.
Once you have resolved your primary concerns, I suggest that you come back for acupuncture and a short-term course of herbs about once every season. This “tune up” helps to keep your major bodily systems in harmony, prevent the development of new imbalances and illness, and enables your vitality to continue to grow and flourish.