(26 July 2000) -- These frequently asked questions (FAQs)
will help you decide whether acupuncture treatment
is for you, what to expect when you visit and how to find an acupuncturist near
questions about acupuncture
acupuncture really work? There are thousands of
published articles that document the effects of acupuncture. Although
many of these studies do not meet Western scientific standards,
persuasive studies have been performed of several conditions,
including chronic and acute pain, substance abuse, nausea and stroke.
Acupuncture has also been shown to increase total
white blood cell count count and T-cell production in patients with HIV
and AIDS and has been associated with increasing their life span and
quality of life.
other conditions respond to acupuncture? The World
Health Organization lists more than 100 conditions that respond to
acupuncture. Relief from pain is probably the best documented. It can
also help in the management of depression,
worry, insomnia and nervous disorders. Acupuncture does not cure AIDS;
however, it has been useful in the management of night sweats, fatigue
and digestive disorders in patients with AIDS. It also has shown
beneficial effects in the treatment of addiction.
I consider seeing an acupuncturist for treatment? For
the conditions listed here and others, acupuncture is probably
worthwhile, particularly if you are not getting sufficient relief from
conventional treatment. However,
acupuncture should be viewed from an integrative perspective. Don't
abandon treatment prescribed by your doctor and be sure to tell your
doctor and acupuncturist that you are integrating both treatments.
will I need acupuncture treatment? The number of
treatments depends on the condition being treated. For a chronic
condition such as arthritis, be prepared to have regular treatments to
keep the benefits you achieve. Finally, be prepared to weigh the
benefits of acupuncture against the cost of treatment, as the
treatments may not be covered by your health plan.
happen when I go to the acupuncture clinic? Similar
to a visit to a medical doctor, you will fill out a questionnaire
regarding your medical history and be interviewed by the
acupuncturist. The acupuncturist will then compare the carotid pulse
(which runs from the heart upward in the neck) to the radial pulse in
the wrist when it is positioned at the level of the heart. The
strengths of the carotid and radial arteries should be about equal on
each side of the body. If not, the relative differences will help the
acupuncturist prescribe the appropriate therapy.
What should I
tell the acupuncturist? Be sure to tell the
acupuncturist if you are pregnant, if you have a heart condition, if
you have a pacemaker or if you have any other condition that might be
aggravated by acupuncture treatment. Also, be prepared to provide your
medical history, including all of the prescription and
over-the-counter drugs you are taking. These include herbal medicine
and nutritional supplements.
How long will
the procedure take? Treatment lasts from a few
seconds to 45 minutes or longer. Sometimes, an ear needle may be
covered with tape and left in place for more than a week.
how do I find a qualified acupuncturist? You can
start with the acupuncturist
directory on the Vicus.com website. There are more than
10,000 acupuncturists in the United States, and many states require
them to be licensed. The National Certification Commission for
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) has certified about 9,000
practitioners who have met national standards. And, the American
Academy of Medical Acupuncture has a membership of about 1,400 medical
doctors and doctors of osteopathy who
have completed at least 220 hours of training in acupuncture.
below lists additional resources that will help identify the best
acupuncturist for you.
Organizations that maintain referral lists of acupuncturists
for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Phone: (703) 548-9004
acupuncturists and has a directory of practitioners.
Association of Oriental Medicine
Phone: (610) 266-1433
directory of practitioners.
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance
Phone: (253) 851-6896
Academy of Medical Acupuncture
Los Angeles, Calif.
directory. Membership is limited to medical doctors and
doctors of osteopathy who have completed a training program of
Russo Jr., Pharm.D., is
senior vice president of medical communications at Vicus.com. He is a
pharmacist and medical writer with more than 20 years of experience in
This article was
updated on July 26, 2000.
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