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  • What is TCM anyway?
  • Does TCM have side effects?
  • What can I expect from my treatment?
  • Can I fill out my paperwork online?
  • How much is this going to cost?
  • I don't live near you, how can I find a licensed practitioner in my area?
  • Do you treat children?
  • I'm afraid of needles, can you still treat me?
  • Do you re-use needles?
  • Do you take insurance?


What is Traditional Chinese Medicine anyway?

TCM is based on Taoist theories, like the concept of yin and yang.

Written in Chinese as 中医学, or 中醫學; or when transliterated into English as Zhōngyī xué. TCM is a system of medicine largely based on the Taoist philosophies of Ancient China. It is the only system of “folk” medicine ever to have been passed through history in textbooks. The earliest TCM text is dates somewhere between 2696 and 2598 BCE, making Chinese medicine close to 4500 years old.

In the modern day, Chinese medicine was originally called “Classical” Chinese Medicine (or CCM). During the early days of the 20th century, there were many “barefoot doctors.” These were mostly farmers who got basic medical training and worked (often barefoot in the rice paddies) in rural China. After the Communist revolution, the National Government elected to abandon and outlaw the practice of CCM, in favor of more progressive Western medical ideas. For the next 30 years CCM continued to be forbidden, but in the 1960’s Mao Zedong decided that the Chinese government could not continue to outlaw the use of CCM. As a result of this decision, he commissioned some of leading (Western) doctors in China to survey CCM and standardize the system of medicine. This standardized form of Chinese medicine is now known as TCM.
TCM got its introduction to the Western world through President Nixon. In 1972 Nixon went to China President. One of his staff members, James Reston, became severely ill with acute appendicitis. After his surgery, acupuncture was used to give Reston pain relief, which he reported as quite successful.


Qì (pronounced "Chee")

Traditional Chinese Medical theory, put as simply as possible, is based on the idea of Qì (pronounced “chee”). Qì can be translated from Chinese as “vital energy” or “life force.” Qì circulates through the body along channels or meridians, flowing like a river or a freeway of energy. This energy circulates more superficially along these meridians, close to the skin, and each meridian supplies a major organ with energy needed for its function.
Often adjectives are used to describe the body’s energy as cold, hot, stagnant, hyperactive, etc. These adjectives are used to classify the energy’s behavior (e.g. cold qi moves slowly and is likely to become stagnant, while warm qi moves quickly and can escape the body leaving one exhausted). Diseases are believed to be caused by an imbalance in the body’s Qì or body fluids.
In Western medicine, we say that a person catches a cold because he has a virus. In TCM, we say that the person has a cold because the body’s Qi became
imbalanced allowing the virus to attack. All Chinese medicine is aimed at restoring the proper balance of Qì, thus allowing the body’s natural mechanisms to heal a person uninhibited.

The TCM doctor will use several tools to identify where the imbalance is located.

• Patient history and description of the problem.
• Palpation (feeling) of the pulse located at the radial artery.
• Observation of the tongue.

The history and description of the problem give a huge clue as to what may be going on. Symptoms are grouped together based on what kind of energetic imbalance may be present.

There are as many as 29 different pulse characteristics, and the placement of the fingers when taking the pulse gives clues about which organ system may be out-of-balance.

Everyone’s pulse is subtly different. There are certain characteristics that are unique to each person such as differences in rate, character, and depth. An experienced Chinese doctor can differentiate between as many as 29 different pulse characteristics. The placement of the fingers can give clues about which organ system may be out-of-balance.


Changes in the tongue's color, texture, size, shape, and coating can show which organ system in the body is energetically out-of-balance.

Each patient’s tongue is different also. Size, shape, color, texture, and coating all give clues to where a patient’s energy is out of balance. Areas on the
tongue correspond to the Qì flow of major organ systems in the body.

Other, secondary, observations can be made. These may include, but are not limited to, observation of the patient's face, body, sound of voice, surface of the ear, relative temperature, and various odors.
After this information is gathered, it is sorted by a system known as the Eight Principles.  First it is determined if the problem is "External" or "Internal."  Meaning, does the problem only affect the channels or does it go deeper and does the imbalance affect the organs themselves?  The next two principles by which the problem is sorted is "Heat," and "Cold."  This is describing the activities of the energy imbalance.  Then it is determined if the problems is a "Deficiency," or an "Excess," problem.  For example, is this problem due to a lack of Qì in an organ or system, or is it due to an organ or system having too much Qì?  Finally it is determined if the problem is "Yin," or "Yang" in nature.  In Chinese Medicine, Yin and Yang refers to various aspects of the body.  For example, the solid organs tend to be considered "Yin," while the hollow organs are, "Yang."  Also, body fluids and blood are usually considered "Yin," while Qì is considered, "Yang."  This provides a framework for a doctor to sort the information gathered.  And once sorted by nature, the primary energy imbalance is defined and a treatment plan can be constructed.

Once a treatment plan is developed, the doctor must choose what modality (or technique of care) is most appropriate for the patient in question. TCM itself consists of several modalities. One of the most popular and well-documented is Acupuncture. This is a more complete list of TCM modalities:


Sometimes the Chinese doctor will use a combination of these modalities, or sometimes just one will be necessary to restore the proper balance of energy in the body. Whatever the complaint, it has a unique energy signature and can usually be treated with Chinese medicine.

Does TCM have side effects?

Acupuncture and Side-Effects:
Because acupuncture is non-invasive (there is no surgical intervention involved), there is a much lower incidence of side effects is expected with TCM than in many procedures utilized by Western medicine to treat the same disorders.  Even drug-based therapy regimens have a higher incidence of side-effects than a typical acupuncture treatment session.
JAMA (Journal of American Medical Assoc.) published a study observing treatments in acupuncture clinics over a 5 year period (November 1992 through October 1997).  During that time, 55,291 cases were reviewed, but the side effects of acupuncture were very few and far between compared to the total number of patients seen.  Look at the results here:

There were 55,291 treatments total, and in those treatments:

  • Forgotten needles: 16 cases
  • Dizziness, discomfort, or perspiration (transient hypotension): 13 cases
  • Burn injury (caused by moxabustion): 7 cases
  • Ecchymosis (bruising) accompanied by pain: 6 cases
  • Ecchymosis without pain: 5 cases
  • Malaise: 5 cases
  • Minor hemorrhage: 3 cases
  • Aggravation of complaint: 3 cases
  • Itching and or redness (suspected contact dermatitis): 3 cases
  • Pain in the puncture region: 2 cases
  • Fall from bed: 1 cases
-Hitoshi Yamashita, Bac, Hiroshi Tsukayama, BA, Yasuo Tanno, MD, PhD. Kazushi Nishijo, PhD, JAMA
Herbs and Side-Effects:
Even Chinese herbal medicine (when used appropriately by a licensed pracitioner) is considered very safe.  There is a growing body of pharmacological research showing that plant remedies often have active chemicals that are similar to many Western drugs. There is a significant difference in the use of drug chemicals and TCM herbal medicine, however.  First of all, the active chemicals in most pharmaceutical-grade drugs are much more concentrated in dosage than those found in TCM herbs.  Secondly, Chinese herbs are often prescribed in a cocktail and the active chemical ingredient is not fully present until all the plants are combined in a formula.  This synnergistic function of Chinese herbs further reduces the body's exposure to high doses of any one plant substance.  In the end, Chinese herbs are used at low doses over a short period (often only a few weeks), leading to a relatively side-effect free experience.
Patients are often concerned when there is word of research into Chinese herbs that show toxic effects of some Chinese plants.  It's important to realize that usually, in these cases, the researchers invovled gave a single herbal medicine in a dose that far exceeds the traditionally recommended dosage of the plant.  Furthermore, as soon as research on these toxic herbs are available, most (if not all) of these substances have been banned by the FDA, thus preventing any accidental overdose by patients taking TCM herbs.  It is always important to take herbs under the guidance of a knowledgeable herbalist, and not on your own, however.

What can I expect from my treatment?
  • Go to the appointment expecting to relax. TCM is different than Western medicine in that respect.  Here at Body Anew, we strive to offer our patients a calming and peaceful, yet professional, treatment experience.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes so that the practitioner can roll up sleeves or pants legs to get to areas involved in your treatment. And don't be surprised if you have back pain, but you end up being needled in the hand or arm. Often times the energy channels travel from one area to another and it's necessary to puncture a part that seems unrelated to your problem.
  • Let your TCM practitioner know if you are uncomfortable in any way. Acupuncture needles aren't supposed to be painful. There can be tingling, distention, or slightly soreness at the insertion point, but they usually don't hurt. If they do, let your practitioner know, and he will either adjust the needle, or remove it.
  • Remember you'll be laying down for at least 20 minutes once the needles are inserted.  This allows the needles to fully work on your body's energy system.


It's also important to note that one treatment is rarely enough to completely resolve a problem. Usually a course of treatments are required. While it is possible for your symptoms to resolve after only one treatment, it is more likely that you will require a full course. For most Acute disease, a course of 4-6 treatments is recommended, with 1-2 courses before resolution of symptoms. However, for chronic problems a course usually consists of 10 treatments, with disease resolution within 2 courses. In some cases, acupuncture cannot “cure” the disease, however, it can help a person to manage the disease with less side-effects than a traditional drug regimen (such as some types of chronic pain).


It's possible to treat a person once and have great relief from the symptoms. Even with that relief, we might still ask you to come back in for a few more treatments. This is not because we just want more of your money. It's because while the symptoms have been alleviated, the overall energy imbalance has not been addressed properly and the condition can and will re-appear if you don't repair the damage.


An acupuncture care plan is spaced such that during the early stages of treatment the patient is usually coming in 1-2 times per week. As the symptoms are cleared up, the patient begins to space out treatments to 1-2 times per month, and then eventually wellness maintenance visits occur 1-2 times per year.  In this way, the early stages of treatment are dedicated to resolving symptoms as well as treating the energy imbalance, and as the symptoms gradually vanish, the focus of the treatment becomes resolving the energy imbalance so that the patient will not have the problem again.

Can I fill out my paperwork online?


You can download and get a jump on some of the paperwork here.


One other way you can help is to go to your physician or specialist and sign a release for some of your medical information.  Labs, x-rays, CT films, etc. may all be very helpful for us. Thank you for your cooperation.

How much is this going to cost?
Acupuncture is very affordable, and Body Anew can be more affordable than most.  Check here for a price list.

I don't live near you, how can I find a licensed practitioner in my area?


Click here to find out how to find practitioners in your area.

Do you treat children?


Some kids don't mind needles, they are rare, but the usually respond quickly to the treatments.

Children can present a difficult challenge for any kind of doctor, and TCM is no exception.  With children, herbal dosages must be significantly reduced.  Some are afraid of needles, and those that aren't afraid still don't like to sit still for 20 minutes while the needles do their work.
Despite all of these difficulties, TCM can be, and is often used to, treat children.  One thing that a TCM practitioner can do to treat children is to use special pediatric Tui Na techniques.  These techniques are somewhat different than Tui Na used for adults, but the results can be quite dramatic.  For those children who aren't scared of needles, a practitioner can use what is known as a, "plumb blossom," or, "seven star," needle.  These needles are small and attached in a cluster to the head of a flexible arm.  The arm is held at one end, and a gentle wrist motion taps the head of the device against the skin.  There is usually no pain or bleeding, and the needles don't have to be "retained" for 20 minutes this way.
Some kids aren't afraid of the needles and will lay there for the prescribed 20 minutes.  Patients like this are a jewel and always easy to treat.
Infants are another story entirely.  They can still be treated by TCM doctors, but they ONLY receive pediatric Tui Na.  Some TCM doctors specialize in treating children.  Many TCM doctors will refer an infant to a specialist within the field.  Because of an infant's size and lack of development, taking the radial pulse as part of diagnosis is not feasable.  Therefore, TCM practitioners will examine the vein on the index finger to determine what Qì imbalances are shown through the blood.

I'm afraid of needles, can you still treat me?


So what happens when you're scared of needles?  Can you still go get a treatment from a TCM doctor?
The answer:  OF COURSE you can still get a treatment.
Some people have an actual fear of needles themselves, while others are afraid of chance of seeing blood.  There are also those who just don't like the idea of pain.  For those that dislike pain, the needles in Acupuncture aren't like getting an injection.  And if it's the actual injections you dislike, then there's a good chance that you won'images/j0321100.jpg" style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 12px 0px 12px 12px; WIDTH: 233px; HEIGHT: 167px" width="0">little larger than coarse human hair!  Aside from being small, these needles are relatively painless on insertion, and since there is no bore (or hole through the needles as in a syringe) to inject fluids through, there is no added discomfort.  If it's blood you fear, then you should know, while it is possible for there to be a drop or two of blood from Acupuncture, this is extremely rare.
There are some who'll read this and still say, "NO WAY!!!"  For those people it's still possible to get a treatment involving Tui Na acupressure, Cupping, Gua Sha, or Herbs only.

Do You Re-use Needles?
No, we do not re-use needles.
While some practices do re-use needles, it is a rarity in the modern Acupuncture practice.  Sterile, single-use, disposable needles that are individually packaged in blister-packs are considered the "gold" standard today.  The needles are sterilized, the most common technique for needle sterilization is through the use of Ethylene-Oxide-Gas (ETO), and they are packaged with a small plastic tube used to aid with quick and painless insertion of the needles (called a "guide tube").

Once used, Acupuncture needles are safely disposed of in a "sharps" container such as this.

We at Body Anew use Seirin® Needles which are made to the highest standards.  These needles are coated and laser sharp for painless insertion.  They are 36 gauge, meaning only .2mm in diameter, also aiding in a pain-free treatment experience.  They are made only from surgical grade stainless steel, individually packaged, and gas sterilized.  Even the guide tubes are environmentally friendly -- made of Polypropylene (100% PVC free) and are recyclable.
Once needles are used, they are immediately disposed of in the proper legal manner, via a "sharps" container, insuring that there are no accidents.  For your safety and ours, we at Body Anew also use gloves, and apply cotton to the puncture site when removing the needles.

Do you take insurance?
The answer is no.  We really don't accept insurance at this time.  
There are two main reasons for this.  One, there are many insurance companies that do not cover acupuncture at all.  And two is that it is not cost effective/feasible at this time.  Body Anew is a small, fledgling business.  We would have to employ an extra person, just for insurance billing purposes. 
We will, however, supply our patients with what is known in the health care field as a "superbill."
A superbill is a special receipt.  It contains on it all the appropriate codes showing the insurance companies exactly what was wrong with a patient and exactly what the acupuncturist did to treat the patient.  Once a patient is given a superbill, it is possible for them forward the superbill to the insurance company in an attempt to get a reimbursement for treatment.  This does not always work, but it's worth a try.
You might want to check with your health insurance provider before-hand though.  Some companies will offer a co-pay, others will offer to pay for a finite number of complimentary medicine visits in a year, while other still actually have full coverage for complimentary/alternative medicine (CAM).  Once you find out if you're covered, you can ask your insurance company if they accept superbills for reimbursement purposes.
At least this way, there's a chance that the insurance companies will cover some of your treatments with us.

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This page was last modified on Monday, March 10, 2008