Very simply put, acupuncture is the stimulation of a specific point on the body using a single-use, sterile needle. There are hundreds of acupuncture points all over the body, and they are connected to each other by the body’s meridians, or channels.
One of the questions people most ask us is if acupuncture hurts. The experience of receiving acupuncture is a highly personal one: the same points are not sensitive on each person, and the sensation of receiving treatment varies, too. Some people feel the needles going in, and describe that as a slight prick. Others don’t notice the insertion.
Often there is a feeling after the needles have been inserted that is known in the profession as the “arrival of qi.” This means that the points are beginning to communicate with each other and the body. Again, the feeling is individualized and is often described as warm, heavy, cool, tingling, or flowing.
As acupuncturists, our training and approach to healing are different in kind from that of modern biomedicine. Our diagnosis and treatment processes take the whole body into account, and are not compartmentalized into systems. For example, if you come to see us with a diagnosis of heart disease, we may or may not focus on points that have to do with the heart organ itself. We will investigate your complaint through our diagnostic procedures in order to identify what we believe to be the source of the pathology. We believe this approach to achieving and sustaining health is one of acupuncture’s greatest benefits.
Unlike other forms of herbal medicine that use herbs singly, Chinese herbal medicine works with herbs in combination; this applies to essential oil formulas as well. Our essential oil pharmacy is comprised of high-quality, organic essential oils that we combine together into custom formulas.
Essential oil formulas are not ingested. Instead the client applies the oil to prescribed areas, thereby stimulating acupuncture points.
As with acupuncture, people have varying preferences regarding herbal medicine. Some people love the ease of applying oils, others prefer the sensation of tasting their own herbal formulas, while others still like the convenience of taking pills. Regardless of the format, we love helping people experience the subtle and dramatic changes that herbal medicine offers.
As practitioners, we give our clients customized, individualized care. We intentionally treat one person at a time, applying the fullness of our focus to each individual. We do this because awareness and presence are required for important, healthy changes to occur and take root in our lives.
Although there is a national certifying body for acupuncturists, not all acupuncture is the same. Because the medicine is so old and because it has been taught and practiced in countries around the world, many different styles of acupuncture exist.
Our style is classical Chinese medicine. In classical acupuncture, medicine and health are regarded as arts that are informed by an understanding of our place in the natural world. Thanks to a straightforward, elegant, and thorough understanding of human physiology and pathology as laid out in a variety of classical texts, the classical acupuncturist treats choosing among 74 channel systems.
Click here to learn more about our training and credentials.
My undergraduate work (at The College of William & Mary) was in English and French; this essentially meant that I spent lots of time reading, writing, and thinking. Part of what drew me to Chinese medicine – and what holds me here – is its endless emphasis on thoughtfulness and presence of mind.
There is nothing dull or rote about acupuncture and herbal medicine; they are both at once timeless and spontaneous.
Understanding the universal ways of life – birth, growth, sickness, wellness, aging, death – and holding that knowledge while treating the individual person is a defining characteristic of practicing this medicine. For me, this style of helping people to find and maintain wellness in their lives is profoundly meaningful and satisfying.
I think acupuncture is wonderful. I know “wonderful” is overused, but I mean it intentionally here: practicing acupuncture fills me and my clients with wonder.
What’s so wonderful about acupuncture?
An acupuncture treatment can give you a direct experience of what healing is, and can remind you that life doesn’t have to be a struggle.
This is wonderful to me, but I understand that it can be easy to lose sight of the wonder of healing in our modern world. We have so many interventions for any given health problem that we often confuse treatment with healing. In other words, it’s easy to think that a Band-Aid heals a cut, but only the body can heal the cut. The Band-Aid’s role is to make healing easier by protecting the cut from infection.
My point is that healing is natural and spontaneous—it’s what you do if you’re alive!
So, you might be wondering now, “if healing is natural, why do we have disease?” I believe the answer is that sometimes we get stuck in life, and healing gets stalled out. Usually when this happens, we know that something’s off, but we might not know what. Even if we do know what’s off, we don’t know how to make it right again. So we feel stuck with a disease, cut off from healing, and probably overwhelmed. Often, this is when we need help. And I do mean help, not fixing.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as someone healing someone else.
Healing, in my experience, is much like learning. No teacher can learn you (meaning make you understand something), but a great teacher inspires students to discover their own eagerness and ability to learn.
This is how I see my role as a practitioner. I think of myself as a guide to healing. My first task when we start working together is to get to know you. What obstacles are you struggling with? What are your strengths? Then I set about helping you to use your own strengths to resolve these obstacles or to find detours around them.
This might sound like an intellectual process, but one of the wonders of acupuncture is its ability to connect the realms of mind and body. The obstacles that we can address with acupuncture are not just mental hang-ups or unconscious body processes. (Learn what acupuncture treats here.)
Instead, needling an acupuncture point brings your conscious awareness to that area, while influencing involuntary processes such as nervous system patterns, biochemical reactions, and fluid balances. This junction creates the opportunity for healing.
The needle is like an arrow that points out to the rest of the body, “Hey, something’s not right here. This is what this area needs.”
This sets up a cascade of events that helps you to resolve the obstacles that have kept you stuck. I believe that when we work together this way the possibilities for healing are virtually endless.
This 20-minute call gives MB or Brian a chance to learn about your health needs and goals so that we can discuss how acupuncture can help. The call also gives us a chance to explore any questions or concerns you may have.