Seminars-Classes...Treatments (mexico/belize/guatemala)


What to Expect on Your First Visit

The idea of seeing an acupuncturist for the first time makes everyone somewhat

apprehensive, and some people downright distraught. Knowing what to expect

can ease your mind.

The first step is choosing an acupuncturist. Some very qualified practitioners, especially Asians,

may not have American credentials, particularly in states that don't require them.

In that case, try to get a recommendation from someone who has gone to the

acupuncturist for treatment or from another practitioner who has worked with the

acupuncturist professionally.

Every acupuncturist is unique; the differences in their approaches can be

marked. The nature of your first visit will depend on what type of acupuncture

your practitioner uses, whether he or she is combining acupuncture with other

therapies, like manipulation or herbalism, and what condition you present. But

here are the basic things you can expect:

The practitioner will usually begin by having you fill out a medical history. Some

of the questions will be very familiar and others may surprise you. The

questionnaire may ask about your emotional patterns, your sleep, whether you

prefer hot or cold drinks or the consistency of your stools.

The needles create a sensation that differs depending on the insertion location,

the needling technique used and the type of needle used. But acupuncture is

nothing like getting a shot with a hypodermic needle. Sensations range from a

sense of pressure to a slight electric-like sting to a dull ache. It never should feel

like a jabbing or stabbing pain. Sometimes there is no sensation at all, and

normally no sensation lasts throughout the entire session. Points may bleed

slightly, and in some cases the acupuncturists will purposely make the point


Other treatment modalities may be used along with or instead of needles. These

can include electric stimulators, glass cups that create a suction placed over

points (called cupping), tiny tacks or beads placed on points and left until the

next visit or warming a point by holding a lit stick of the herb mugwort over it

(called moxibustion). Occasionally moxibustion will be used directly on the body

surface, but it doesn't burn the skin. The acupuncturists may also press points

manually (called acupressure).

After the needles are inserted, the patient rests for a period of five minutes to 30

minutes, during which time the acupuncturist may be treating other patients.

After a treatment, especially the first one, you may feel slightly light-headed or

"spacy." This is not a dramatic feeling, but many people like to give themselves a

chance to go home and rest after a treatment.

Rarely is one visit enough. The practitioner will almost surely suggest you come

back for a series of treatments. The longer the problem has existed, the more

extended the course of treatment will be. A full series can take anywhere from

one week (for colds or flus) to four months for long-standing problems. After

resolving their initial complaints, some people schedule periodic maintenance

treatments to sustain and further promote good health.

Few insurance companies cover acupuncture, so expect to pay as you go.

Likelihood of coverage varies from company to company, state to state, and

acupuncturist to acupuncturist.

And a final word about needle cleanliness. Acupuncturists use either disposable

needles or reusable ones. Practitioners are fanatic about keeping their reusable

needles properly sterilized, and their techniques are stringently tested in all

board exams. Sterilization is done in an autoclave, a high-pressure, high-heat

device commonly used to sterilize surgical instruments. If you want double

assurance, ask the acupuncturist to show you the setup.