What is acupuncture and Chinese Medicine?

Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine that uses the insertion of ultra-fine needles into specific points on the body to restore balance. No one knows exactly how acupuncture works, but what we do know is that it does and it has been used for over 3000 years as a safe and effective therapy to benefit health. It is commonly used today to ease recurring aches and pains, reduce stress, increase energy and vitality, and treat anything from neck pain to sciatica, depression to anxiety, and hay fever to sinusitis. (See below: What types of conditions does acupuncture treat?)

In China, theories over 3000 years old explain that the needles are used to access the body’s qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi runs throughout the body in river-like meridians and channels nourishing, energizing, and supporting the body. From a Western Medical perspective one can think of the channels somewhat like blood vessels and nerves and qi as oxygen and nutrients in our blood that feeds our entire body. Research has shown that acupuncture needles increase blood flow throughout the body and affect brain chemistry by increasing neurotransmitters such as serotonin, noradrenalin, and endorphins which are natural “feel good” chemicals, pain killers, and regulators of the body.

Acupuncturists evaluate the quality, quantity, and flow of qi in the body. An imbalance of qi can be caused by physical and emotional trauma, stress, lack of exercise, overwork, seasonal changes, and diet. When the disruption of qi is prolonged or excessive or if the body is in a weakened state, then illness, pain, or disease can develop. In order to restore and maintain the proper flow of qi in the body, acupuncturists use a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, moxibustion, cupping, and nutritional counseling. When qi is balanced and flowing freely, the body flourishes and vitality and wellness are experienced.

Will acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture needles are ultra-thin, flexible, and made of solid stainless steel. They are 25-50 times thinner than a hypodermic needle and the point is smooth and rounded rather than hollow. Most of the time people do not feel the insertion of the needle into the skin. Sometimes people may feel a light tap or a sensation like a mosquito bite that disappears quickly. Once the needle is in, you may feel nothing at all or you may feel some sensations such as warmth, tingling, heaviness, a dull ache, or a moving sensation. This is the sensation of the needle connecting with your qi and is usually only felt for a short period of time or if the practitioner is stimulating the needle.

Most people find acupuncture relaxing and many even fall asleep during the treatment. Christina is a skilled and gentle practitioner and will make your acupuncture session pleasant and relaxing. Only sterile, disposable needles are used so there is no risk of infection.

What types of conditions does acupuncture treat?

Chinese Medicine has been used as primary care in China for thousands of years to treat anything and everything a clinician could see. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institutes for Health (NIH), and clinical experience, acupuncture is effective in the treatment of:

Orthopedic Disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves
Acute and chronic pain, sports injuries, sprains, and trauma, musculoskeletal pain, repetitive motion injuries, back, neck, and shoulder pain, sciatica, whiplash, tendonitis, tennis elbow, knee pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches and migraines, TMJ/jaw pain, gout, restless leg syndrome, numbness and tingling, trigger finger, Bell’s palsy, neuralgia , peripheral neuropathy, and phantom-limb pain

Emotional and Psychological Disorders
Stress, anxiety, nervous tension, depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), mania, insomnia, low energy, and grief

Respiratory and Ear Nose and Throat Disorders
Allergies, hay fever, sinusitis, colds and flus, coughs and bronchitis, asthma, eye, ear, and throat disorders, recovery after prolonged illness, immune system dysfunctions, and chronic fatigue

Gastrointestinal Disorders
Indigestion, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, food allergies, peptic ulcer, gastrointestinal weakness, and gastritis.

Gynecological Disorders
Irregular, heavy, or painful menstruation, PMS, infertility in women and men, menopausal symptoms, childbirth and lactation support including morning sickness, edema, fatigue, postnatal recovery

Circulatory Disorders
Hypertension, palpitations, high cholesterol, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis, stroke, anemia, edema, and dizziness

Urogenital Disorders
Stress incontinence, urinary tract infections, and sexual dysfunction

Alcohol, nicotine, and many types of drug addiction

If you have questions about a condition for which you would like to try Chinese Medicine, please contact us.

Do you have any specialties?

Christina studied traditional eight principle acupuncture as the foundation of her Master’s degree. During her studies, she interned in China at the Yue Yang Hospital in Shanghai. While there, she participated in clinical rotations in acupuncture and herbal medicine departments specializing in musculoskeletal pain, stroke, cancer, gastrointestinal disease, asthma & COPD, eye disease, urinary disease, chronic fatigue, headaches, and weight loss. This allowed her to go deeper with the material and learn how Chinese medicine is practiced in China today.

Christina has studied channel based and Balance Method Acupuncture with several masters. These systems of treatment were developed and made accessible by Master Tung and Dr. Richard Tan. Renowned for quick results in the treatment of pain, the Balance Method is equally effective in treating issues of internal medicine.

Christina also studied and interned with a master teacher of eight extra meridian acupuncture. This system of acupuncture is used to release emotional blockages to help people find long lasting emotional balance in areas that they seem to get stuck.

Using these methods, Christina treats a wide variety of conditions and she has a special interest in

  • acute and chronic pain relief
  • stress reduction and emotional balancing
  • and respiratory and immune system health.

How many treatments will I need?

The course of treatment varies depending on your medical condition, your current state of health, and how well you respond to acupuncture. In general acute conditions are treated in less sessions while chronic conditions take longer. Each person is unique, but I recommend that you give yourself the gift of several treatments in order to fully experience the benefits of acupuncture. After reaching their health goals, many people come in for tune-ups as part of their lifetime health maintenance program.

Do you bill insurance? What about credit cards, HSA or FSA?

Worker’s Compensation Insurance: We bill directly for Worker’s Compensation claims.  We must obtain a copy of the authorization letter prior to treatment with enough time so that we can verify that we can bill your insurance since we are out of network with all insurances.  Please email or fax the authorization to (707) 703-1473.

Medical Insurance: We are out of network with all insurances and do not bill medical insurance directly, but we can provide you with a detailed receipt called a SuperBill to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.  Payment is due at the time of service.

First you should verify with your insurance that it covers out of network acupuncture. Then let us know before your treatment so we can create the SuperBill for you.  A SuperBill is different than a regular receipt and requires extra coding.  If you don’t request a SuperBill, you will get a regular receipt for any payment and that is fine for tax records etc.

Auto and Personal Injury Insurance: We are out of network with all insurances and do not bill Auto or Personal Injury Insurance directly, but we can provide you with a detailed receipt called a SuperBill to submit to your insurance company.  You will get the most out of your medpay this way.  Payment is due at the time of service.

Recently we heard of an Auto Insurance that required the provider to be in network.  Since we are out of network, it’s a good idea to call your insurance and verify that they will reimburse you.  Our experience is that we see that 99.9% of the time it’s easy to get reimbursed by Auto and Personal Injury Insurance, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and verify ahead of time.

Prepaid Packages: Thrive offers several prepaid packages that can make your treatments more affordable if you do not have Out Of Network Insurance benefits.  Note that these do not apply to the initial visit, which includes an detailed heath assessment, acupuncture treatment, and report of findings.

Accepted methods of payment are cash, check, Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover, Flexible Spending Account (FSA), or Health Savings Account (HSA) cards or checks.