Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Questions and Answers

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM and otherwise known as TOM, or Traditional Oriental Medicine, is a sophisticated approach to healing which has been practiced and refined for at least 3,000 years. It is based upon ancient Chinese medical texts. Treatment in TCM is centered upon the individual rather than the disease.
The TCM practitioner pieces together your individual signs and symptoms and synthesizes them into a clinical picture of you as a whole person. This is known as your constitution. In TCM the mental, emotional and physical are intertwined thus taking the entire person into account both for the diagnosis and the treatment.
Dis-ease is typically viewed as dis-order or dis-harmony and treatment is directed toward balancing and harmonizing. Diagnosis is made through visual inspection, interview, inspection of the tongue and palpation of the pulse in both wrists, palpation at specific points of tenderness and palpation at acupuncture points.
Once a working diagnosis has been made, a plan of treatment is made and carried out using the different “tools” of TCM including acupuncture needles if appropriate.

What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a TCM therapy using very fine, thin, solid, one-time use, stainless steel needles to stimulate/treat specific points, meridians of qi (chee) or energetic organ systems of the body. The network of acupuncture points, which are places of decreased resistance and increased conductivity of the body’s energy, has been known to the Chinese for approximately 3,000+ years.
Acupuncture is used to promote health and treat organic or functional disorders. According to the World Health Organization many common acute and chronic health disorders lend themselves to acupuncture based on clinical experience such as:

  • Ear, nose and throat disorders
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Eye disorders
  • Neurological and muscular complaints
  • Gynecological disorders
  • Any type of local pain, strain or sprain
  • The stopping of smoking or other addictions
  • Orthopedic complaints
  • Psychosomatic concerns
  • Pediatric challenges


Acupuncture is just one “tool” in the acupuncturist’s “toolbox”. Other TCM modalities include:
Tui na- TCM form of medical massage
Moxabustion- application of various forms of mugwort (an herbaceous plant)
Cupping- warmed cups that slide across the skin
Earballs- tiny metal balls that are taped to acupuncture points in the ear during auricular (ear) acupuncture.
Chinese herbal medicine A single acupuncture appointment may include any combination of these methods as part of a patient’s treatment.

What Is Qi?
In Chinese, qi (pronounced chee) translates as “vital energy” and is considered to flow through channels called meridians that transverse the body in a manner similar, but not identical, to the nervous and circulatory systems. Acupuncture regulates the flow of qi to help bring balance to the body.

What Will I Feel?
Acupuncture is considered to be relatively painless. However, with correct stimulation of the needles, the movement of qi in the body may cause a sensation that can be experienced in a few ways. Some patients describe a sensation of heaviness, distention, tingling, slight itchiness or a slight electric feeling.
The sensation may be localized to the point or may extend away from the point along the meridian. It is good to have a sensation while being treated but it is not crucial. You may have no sensation but will still receive the same benefits.

Are The Needles Clean?
All of the needles used here are one-time-use –disposable and pre-sterilized. Once used they are then lawfully disposed. And, unlike hypodermic needles, acupuncture needles are solid and so do little tissue damage when they are inserted therefore causing much less pain than when you “get a shot”.

What Can I Expect At An Acupuncture Appointment?
Come ready to answer a lot of questions! The majority of the time of a first office visit is spent taking a detailed history by listening carefully to what you have to say. Some of the questions may not seem to be related to your chief concerns but your acupuncturist is piecing together the holistic picture of you and your constitution.
The exam includes taking your pulse at both wrists and inspecting your tongue so don’t bush your tongue before you see your acupuncturist. Also, if you drink tea or coffee or eat anything which might stain your tongue before your visit be sure to tell your practitioner.
Additionally, make sure you have had at least one meal prior to your visit but don’t eat a huge meal either. Your body needs to be focused on the treatment and not too busy with digestion when you visit. All the information gathered allows your TCM practitioner to develop a personalized treatment plan for you.

Is Acupuncture Safe for Children?
Yes, acupuncture and the other modalities of traditional Chinese medicine are safe for children.

How Do I Decide If Acupuncture Is For Me?
Some key things to keep in mind when choosing a particular mode of treatment are the frequency or length of the treatment and the cost. Acupuncture can be very effective with just one treatment but with many chronic disorders affecting a person’s constitution several consecutive appointments may be necessary.
How many and how often you should be treated can be determined by you and your TCM practitioner. Finally, whether or not you can have acupuncture really depends upon how you feel about it. If you fear needles, perhaps one of the other tools, such as tui na or cupping or ear balls or herbs would be better for you.
There are many tools in the acupuncturist’s toolbox and one should be right for you. If you have any further questions please ask!

What to Expect After Acupuncture

Take it easy for the rest of the day! Usually, after an acupuncture treatment a patient can feel:

  • Very relaxed
  • Energized
  • Pleasantly fatigued
  • If you feel like you need a nap- take one !

If you feel exhausted, and after taking a nap still feel tired, let your acupuncturist know the next time you come for a visit. Your acupuncturist will adjust the strength of the treatment to ensure that it doesn't make you too tired.

Very infrequently a patient can experience other sensations. If you have any questions about anything after your treatment, please don’t hesitate to call. Acupuncture is usually a new experience for most people and so it is hard to anticipate what to expect.

Take note of any changes that occur between this appointment and the next. Your acupuncturist will ask you about any changes.
Because traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM which includes acupuncture and herbs) doesn't differentiate between the emotional, mental and physical planes when treating, you may experience changes in any of these areas.

Usually, after the first treatment your acupuncturist will begin the next visit by asking if there have been any changes for you. TCM is an accumulative treatment process. Most patients want to know how many treatments it will take until they can be finished with TCM. Without wanting to sound vague, it depends on what your chief concern(s) is/are.

Usually a patient comes either once or twice a week for the early stages of treatment. The time between visits usually lengthens until the patient needs to come in for maintenance or they have recovered. I ask how long the patient has lived with the chief concern to illustrate that it usually takes a long time for the patient to reach the place where they are, unless it was an acute onset, and that the TCM work will take much less time. Occasionally, but not often, one treatment is enough. If you don’t feel any changes by your third visit, you and your acupuncturist should reevaluate what needs to happen.

What can I do to make the most of my treatments?

  • Eat within at least 4 hours BEFORE a treatment but don’t come for a visit having eaten a huge meal.
  • Do not consume large amounts of alcohol before or after a treatment.
  • No vigorous activity before or after a treatment.
  • Take your herbs regularly.
  • Ask your acupuncturist any questions which come up for you!


Thank you for your visit!
We are committed to giving you the best TCM care available.

I believe passionately in the power of TCM and have spent years both academically and clinically learning and witnessing the benefits of this medicine.

TCM has a 4,000 year record of helping people. It is relatively new to the U.S. but don’t let that fool you. After 4,000 years this is not the latest fad but a proven philosophy of medicine (one of many thank goodness) which I hope will be of benefit to you.

Wendy Stedeford Acupuncture
• El Dorado Hills
907 Embarcadero Drive

• Folsom
990 Riley Street