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What does "Gathering of Qi" mean?
What about the needles?
Are there any side effects to acupuncture?
How to choose an acupuncturist


• What does "Gathering of Qi" mean?

Qi (pronounced "chee"), a fundamental concept in Chinese medicine, is the animating force, or energy, that provides life and spirit to all of creation, human beings included. It is when the Qi of heaven and earth interacts, or gathers together, that a human is created, and imbued with life and spirit.

• What about the needles? Do they hurt?

Acupuncturists use needles that are unlike any found in a physician’s office. They are extremely thin, not unlike the whisker of a cat. Only sterile, disposable needles are used. The sensation of the needles depends on the point used, but it is rarely one of pain. More often it is a deeper sensation that you may find pleasantly relaxing. Children and animals are easily treated with acupuncture needles.

• Are there any side effects or dangers associated with acupuncture?

Acupuncture is generally a safe and gentle modality. Most often the effects experienced are those that arise from a body coming more into balance and are desirable indicators of this. For example, you may experience changes in your sleep patterns, digestion, or bowels, or notice that you living life with an ease and equanimity not experienced before. However, in some instances there may a worsening of symptoms before improvement is seen. Rather than cause for alarm, this often indicates that the body is following a natural course of healing.

Occasionally bruising might occur at the site of a needle insertion. Should this hapen, you should experience neither pain nor concern, and you can expect that the bruise will fade in a short time. There are certain areas of the body where bruising is more likely to occur, and rest assured that your practitioner will take extra care to avoid this slight possibility.

• How do I choose an acupuncturist?

Article: How to Choose an Acupuncturist
Diane Joswick, L.Ac.

Acupuncture works! But your experience with acupuncture will depend largely on the acupuncture provider that you choose. You want to find an acupuncturist that you click with. If you like and trust your practitioner, your encounter with acupuncture will be more positive.

You will also want to know about the acupuncturists training and experience and what to expect from the acupuncture treatment. The clearer you are about who it is that is treating you and exactly what the treatment entails, the more you will be able to relax during the acupuncture session and benefit from this ancient form of health care.

Determine your goals
Do you have a specific injury or complaint or do you want to try acupuncture to balance body, mind and spirit? Are you looking for a primary health care practitioner, or someone to work in conjunction with your current physician? Here are some questions that you should ask when choosing an acupuncturist

Questions you should ask:
1. Where was he/she trained?
2. How long was the training?
3. How long has he/she been in practice?
4. What experience does he/she have in treating your specific ailment?

Credentials to Look For
Today acupuncture is an acknowledged and respected field of medicine. In most States, provinces and countries formal training and certification is required in order to practice. The United States has set rigorous training standards for acupuncturists. Most states require a 3-5 year Masters degree in Oriental Medicine from an accredited acupuncture school and issue a written and practical state board exam, before an acupuncturist can become licensed. In the states that do not require licensing, choose an acupuncturist certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists. Its members have a degree in Oriental Medicine from an accredited school-or have worked as an apprentice acupuncturist for at least four years—and have passed both a written and practical exam. Acupuncturists who have passed this exam are entitled to add Dipl. Ac. (Diplomate of Acupuncture) after their name. Acupuncture requirements for Western doctors are generally more lenient than for non-MD's. Choose a physician who is a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture; it requires a minimum of 200 hours of training for membership.

Ask About Treatment Styles
Acupuncture and Herbology encompass several distinctive styles. Korean acupuncture, for example, primarily uses points on the hand, while Japanese acupuncture calls for fewer and finer needles inserted at shallower depths. There is no evidence that one particular style is more effective than another, but you should know what you are getting into

Discuss Length of Treatment
Decide in advance what your expectations are and discuss them with your acupuncturist. A chronic illness may need several months of acupuncture treatment to have a noticeable effect. If you are not happy with your progress, think about changing acupuncturists or check with your western doctor for advice about other options.

(Diane Joswick is a licensed acupuncturist and President of Acufinder.com— an acupuncture referral service.)

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