What to expect:

Acupuncture restores the body back to its optimal, functional, balanced state. It takes into account how the whole person is functioning, in order to treat both the symptoms resulting from the imbalance, as well as the imbalance itself.

During your initial visit, we will discuss your main complaint and review your medical history.  I will then formulate an individualized treatment plan according to your main complaint, with respect to your individual constitution.

As you lay face up, needles will be gently inserted at various points on your body, in accordance with your breath. At the moment of insertion, most patients report feeling just a light tap. Once the needles are placed, sensations that may arise include heaviness, warmth, moving, tingling, numbness, or nothing at all. This depends on the person, their condition, and the location of the points. Most people start to feel very relaxed and some even fall asleep. After about 20-40 minutes, the needles are removed. Sometimes you will then lay face-down on your stomach, and the process will be repeated on the other side of your body. Adjunctive therapies such as cupping, moxibustion, electro-acupuncture, and tui-na will be included as needed, upon consent.

How to prepare for an acupuncture treatment:
Please wear clothing that is loose and comfortable. Most of the points are located on the limbs, back and abdomen. It will be easier to reach these points if your clothing allows access to these areas.

Please make sure you have eaten prior to receiving a treatment, to avoid the possibility of feeling light-headed. Patients under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who behave inappropriately will not be treated or tolerated. 

How does acupuncture work?
Preclinical studies have documented acupuncture's effects, but they have not been able to fully explain how acupuncture works within the framework of the Western system of medicine that is commonly practiced in the United States. It is proposed that acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person's blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.

In the TCM system of medicine, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle, yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. Among the major theories in TCM are that health is achieved by maintaining the body in a "balanced state" and that disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (vital energy) along pathways known as meridians. It is believed that there are 12 main meridians and 8 secondary meridians and that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body that connect with them. (Courtesy of: http://healing.about.com/od/acupuncture/ss/whatisacpunctre_5.htm)

What if I don’t like needles?
Most people (myself included) don’t like getting shots at the doctor’s office. The hypodermic needles they use hurt because they are thick and hollow and literally “punch” a hole in your body, and force fluids through that hole. Acupuncture needles, by comparison, are super fine, and not hollow. You could fit many acupuncture needles into the opening of a hypodermic needle. Most patients, even the needle-phobic, report feeling little to no sensation upon the insertion of acupuncture needles, as they are as fine as a human hair. Some patients have described the needles as being “feather-like”, as they are so thin and light weight. Gotham Wellness only uses sterilized, single-use, disposable, stainless steel needles.

There are also ways to access the acupuncture points and meridians without using needles. These needle-free techniques include moxa, magnets, teishins, pressballs, lasers, and cupping. Moxa involves the burning of the herb Artemsia vulgaris near the skin. It creates a welcoming warmth. Magnets are taped onto the skin for the duration of the treatment, and can be taken home as well. Teishins are blunt-ended implements that are held on or near the skin to create movement in the meridians. Pressballs are small stainless steel or gold balls that are taped to the ear at specific pressure points. They can be left in for a few days to increase the duration of treatment, and are especially helpful for smoking cessation and stress and pain relief. Cupping involves the pleasurable application of glass cups to the body (usually the back) via suction to move blood and increase circulation. Cupping works wonders for muscular-skeletal pain and emotional distress.

What sort of training is required to become an acupuncturist?
Individual requirements vary according to individual state laws. Most states require acupuncturist to hold a four-year premed undergraduate degree and to attend a four year post-graduate degree program in acupuncture, at a school accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). Multiple national board exams administered by the National Certification Committee of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) must be passed in order to become a certified acupuncturist. A course and exam in Clean Needle Technique given by the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) must also be passed. In addition, each state has their own applications and procedures in order to become a licensed and registered acupuncturist.