On your first visit the acupuncturist will ask many questions. Feel free to share as much as you are comfortable with, keeping in mind that the more information we have, the easier it is to determine the course of your treatment.
The acupuncturist will also check your tongue and pulses, using both wrists. The tongue presents a wealth of information by being a mirror of the internal organ activity. We look at the color of the tongue in different areas, as the each area relates to different organs. Also, we are looking at the coating or fur that covers your tongue. For example: a very red tongue with yellow fur might indicate heat and phlegm in the system, which could mean an infection.
The pulses on each wrist also relate to different organs (for more information, ask the front desk for books on the topic). It’s taken us years of practice to learn this simple, subtle, yet very complex method of reading. The Chinese were able to establish this organic and scientific way of measuring each organ’s activity, strength, deficiencies and traumas.
Once you are on the table, the acupuncturist will choose acupuncture points from different meridians, which are channels and pathways that carry QI (energy) and blood throughout the body. They connect the interior of the body with the exterior. There are approximately 400 points, which include the 12 regular channels and the extra meridians, and points. The goal, according to Chinese Medicine, is to balance all aspects of your Yin and Yang and open the energy’s pathway if obstructed. This is why acupuncture is so effective in treating pain and muscular tension. The western explanation is that the release of endorphins suppresses pain and creates a great feeling of relaxation after treatment. The insertion of the thin needles is painless. We use only disposable stainless steel needles. The pictures in our waiting room of children receiving treatment are a testament to how painless the procedure is. Once the acupuncturist places the needles, she will leave the room for you to relax and allow the needles to do their work. In most cases, our trained assistant will then come to the room to apply moxibustion, which looks like a cigar but is an herbal mix of Artemisia vulgaris, an herb that generates a therapeutic effect when applied to the acupuncture point. If needed, the acupuncturist will choose to use electric stimulus, hooked up to the needles, for pain reduction and to treat muscle spasm as well as to prevent or stop the formation of kidney stones. The electric acupuncture is also a painless procedure, although you can feel the gentle tingle of current, and many patients enjoy the soothing feeling. One your fist visit we generally acupuncture both sides of the body, front and back, depending on the issue at hand. Details, such as the amount of needles, the point of insertion, and which side of the body to needle will be determined at each visit. The needles are removed after 15-30 minutes. We suggest drinking water or herbal tea after treatment and then taking it easy for an hour or so. If you are sick when you are treated, we suggest you go home and rest as much as you can.
At the end of your session the acupuncturist will determine your diagnostic imbalances according to Chinese medicine and explain her findings. We ask that you are patient with the explanation because translating the acupuncturist’s Chinese diagnosis into terminology you are familiar (a western diagnosis) is an involved process. The terminology and treatment principle will be different from what you have experienced before at your doctor’s office. For example, if you are here to be treated for a urinary infection, we might call it wet heat in your bladder. If you arrive with premenstrual syndrome, we might call it Liver qi congestion, based on these Chinese diagnosis principles. For most of our patients there is multi-organ involvement. We are all well trained in our profession and we can assist you in explaining what and why we choose certain points and herbs for you. For example, ten women who are going through the natural phase of menopause will each be treated differently since Chinese Medicine looks at your individual constitution and then administers a specific course of treatment. This is true of all iIIness, as well. We are treating the cause, the imbalance, not just the symptoms. The Acupuncture Clinic of Napa is a very well established clinic in Napa with great material resources and doctors to refer to. If a referral is needed, a referral will be made.
For some patients, treatment will elicit an emotional outburst. The needles are often triggering cellular memories for patients. Do not hold back, as this is a very instrumental process in your healing. Part of the treatment is to retrain your body-soul and cells to trust again and it takes some training and trust to move to this level of reality. We treat patients with post-traumatic events; and those feelings might surface at your initial visit. One of our most frequently asked questions is: How am I going to feel after treatment? Everyone’s body reacts differently; most of our patients immediately feel relaxed. When you are treated for acute conditions; the results are usually more pronounced after your first visit. You might arrive for your first visit with shoulder pain and the post-treatment result will be 80% improvement, or it might take a couple of visits before you feel results. With patients who arrive with more chronic symptoms, improvement can be more gradual. Acupuncture works on a cumulative scale, so each treatment builds on the other. In more severe cases we need patients to be seen several times per week at the beginning phase of treatment. The reason is this: the effectiveness of acupuncture drops by the 4th day. For times when we need to move the body to a better energy system, we choose 2x per week as a way to build up on this momentum. Also, there could be times in the process where your symptoms might get worse before they get better. Do not give up after this experience, it means your body is working to heal, which means good progress. We urge you not to skip treatments and to follow the recommendation of your acupuncturist. Let us know if there are changes in your schedule or if you choose to stop treatments for the time being so that we can support you and advise you to how to do this. Our aim is to assist you in short or long term recovery/healing, after a point, only monthly or seasonal visits will be necessary.
Also on staff we have two trained Massage Therapists and a Neurofeedback Specialist to whom we provide referrals, and are in communication with regarding every patient’s progress. While you wait please enjoy our waiting room and library. Herbal tea is offered for your pleasure while waiting.