• Mediates Change Through the Nervous and Endocrine Systems

  • Regulates Immune Function

  • Stimulates Production of Stem Cells

  • Stimulates Health of Tissues in Part Through Normalizing Function of the Nervous and Circulatory Systems.

What can be treated by Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine?  (AOM)

The World Health Organization has a list they produced many years ago stating what the evidence at the time indicated acupuncture could be useful for.  I believe this list falls short of the true potential of AOM.  AOM is by no means a magic bullet for what ails us.  AOM offers superior results for some health issues and is less effective for others.  This is true with any form of medicine.  AOM can treat acute problems as well as chronic problems and is well suited for treating chronic health issues.  AOM can be used independent of conventional medicine or in conjunction with conventional medicine.  At Premier Acupuncture, we specialize in the treatment of pain and women's health.  The following list is what we see most commonly in our clinic.  The list is not in order of frequency and is not an exhaustive list.

Neck Pain          Plantar Fasciitis          Numbness / Tingling          IT Band Syndrome          Premenstrual Syndrome

Headaches        Migraines                    Shoulder Pain                      Carpal Tunnel                  Menstrual Cramps
Back Pain           Muscle Spasm           Low Back Pain                      Frozen Shoulder              Hormone Imbalance
Fibromyalgia     Arthritis                       Hip Pain                                Knee Pain                          Breast Pain

Sciatica               Pinched Nerve           Neuropathy                          Sore Muscles

How fast does acupuncture work and what's the best style?

There are many styles of acupuncture, all of them effective.  But the word effective is a relative concept.  I have been trained in two styles of acupuncture and I can tell you that I strongly believe, based on decades of experience, that for pain, the distal style of acupuncture is the most rapid, most reliable and reproducible style of acupuncture.  Distal acupuncture is also effective for internal medicine problmes, and in the case of our clinic, gynecological problems.  Currently, only a relative minority of acupunturists use the distal approach, but due to its effectivness, these numbers are growing rapidly.

The phrase Li Gan Jian Ying, which translates roughly to stand pole, see shadow, is an important concept.  This means the effects of acupuncture should be seen as quickly as the time it takes a shadow to be cast once a pole is stood upright in the sun.  This concept is primarily related to pain treatment.  Only distal acupuncture can achieve this rate of response.  Of course not everyone responds to acupuncture and of those that do, not everyone responds this quickly.  My experience is out of those that respond to acupuncture (which is the vast majority), 85-90 percent will achieve the beginning of pain relief within less than one minute after the acupuncture needles have been inserted.   In order to maintain the improvment, a course of treatment will be needed.

We utilize a distal style of acupuncture we call Rapid Relief Acupuncture.  This is a blend of 2 styles of distal acupuncture which typically produces rapid pain relief.  As always, there is never a guarantee.


Although the number of people utilizing acupuncture has grown rapidly over the years, the majority of people with chronic pain continue to seek medication, surgery, or other approaches to pain that are arguably mostly ineffective.  Why is this?  

So why the relatively slow adoption of acupuncture in the West?  There are multiple reasons, with the most common reasons being lack of insurance coverage (this has been changing over the years and now most of our patients are covered by insurance), fear of needles, more familiarity with other forms of care such as chiropractic and physical therapy, etc.  I believe the primary reason is lack of understanding of just what acupuncture is and how well it works.  We regularly see people experiencing severe chronic pain that have utilized more traditional approaches to pain management including surgery, injections, implanted spinal cord stimulators, opiates and more.  Many of these people respond well to acupuncture.  If you look over our testimonials page you can see the experience others have had at our clinic.  Another common reason for slow acceptance and utilization of acupuncture in the treatment of pain is most physicians have been trained to refer their patients out to physicial therapy.  

Looking for a little more information on acupuncture?  Please continue reading

What's all this talk about Qi?

It appears that, at least in part, due to one individual’s mistranslation of a major Chinese medicine text in the 1930’s, Soulie de Morant was responsible for turning Chinese Medicine, of which acupuncture is a part, into an “energy medicine”.  Acupuncture was always based on anatomy and physiology, but due to translational errors, Soulie de Morant was responsible for introducing the translation of the Chinese word “Qi” as energy, or life force, and the idea of the existence of an invisible meridian system in which Qi flows, and published his work.  This is an explanation you will find just about anywhere you look.  Unfortunately, this mistranslation caught on and was incorporated into the AOM (Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine) schools outside of Asia.  This belief in unseen energy and meridians resulted in Western medicine looking at AOM as nothing more than quackery, and only the brave few would initially go see an “energy doctor”.

Because, (or at least in part) of this energy concept, people that would benefit from acupuncture would not seek treatment and their physicians would either simply not refer their patients or would attack acupuncture as quackery.  Although many acupuncturists hold on to this energy medicine idea, the reality is acupuncture is a physical medicine and when explained this way it is gaining greater and greater acceptance.  In fact the American Academy of Pain Management, an organization made up mostly of medical doctors, but also acupuncturists, chiropractors and others, has brought in an acupuncturist more than once to speak at one of their conventions and the explanation of how acupuncture works from a biochemical understanding was enthusiastically accepted, so I am told.  Acupuncture works very well, a fact we know from clinical experience, clinical trials and research.  But without a sound understanding of why it works, acupuncture could not be easily accepted in the West.  When acupuncture is understood for what it actually is, it is readily embraced by the medical community and the public.  What follows is a simplified explanation of how acupuncture appears to work and clarification of a few terms.  There is no doubt more to the mechanism of action for acupuncture, but what we now know provides us with a workable explanation.

Those of you with some familiarity of acupuncture have heard the words Qi, meridian and acupuncture point.  Let’s see what these words really mean if we look at the ancient Chinese medical text, the Huang di Nei jing, where Chinese medicine is explained in detail.

Qi: Qi is correctly translated as “vital air”, or “function of”, not “energy” or “life force”.   For example, the term “Kidney qi deficiency” means the function of the kidneys is weak rather than the less useful energy definition.  Not that the phrase "kidney function is weak" is particularly helpful, but it does allow for further evaluation of kidney function, rather than the ethereal concept of kidney energy being weak.  “Vital air” refers to the component in air that is vital for life, and that is of course oxygen.  Qi has nothing to do with invisible energy in a medical context.  This is not to say our bodies are not energetic in nature, we have known for a long time that all matter is simply energy vibrating at different frequencies.  Maybe this energy is manipulated through acupuncture.  But this is not what the foundation of acupuncture is about.  Acupuncture is a physical medicine, just like any other physical medicine, and can be explained with anatomy and physiology.

Meridian: The term meridian came into use courtesy of Soulie de Morant when he incorrectly translated the words Jing Mai, which correctly translated refers to a vessel, as in blood vessel, and defined it as an energy vessel.  The reason no cadaver dissection has ever identified a meridian is they do not exist.  By the way, later in life Soulie de Morant admitted he mistranslated Jing Mai, but for some reason the original mistranslation has stuck.

Acupuncture point: The words “acupuncture point” does not even exist in the Huang Di Nei Jing (the foundational ancient Chinese Medicine text).  The proper translation is neural node.  This gives us insight into how acupuncture works.  Acupuncture works through normalization of the nervous system.

Acupuncture: The word acupuncture does not exist in the ancient texts.  The original meaning translates to "needle therapy".

So How Does Acupuncture Work?

There are multiple modern theories, all of them based on how acupuncture effects our nervous and hormonal systems.  The one theory that makes the most sense, to me anyway, can be summarized as follows. 

  • Mediates change through the nervous and endocrine system
  • Increases circulation (blood, oxygen, nutrients) to all tissues of the body
  • Reduces Inflammation
  • Reduces pain immediately through the release of enkephalins (body's pain killers) and long term through improved circulation and healing of the tissues
  • Stimulates healing of tissues and organs in part through normalizing function of the nervous system and improved blood flow
  • Recent studies have shown acupuncture stimulates the production of stem cells

The research of individuals such as the late Bruce Pomeranz, MD, PhD, from the University of Toronto, has led to an understanding of how our neuroendocrine system is regulated by acupuncture.  I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Pomeranz.  Another group has been promoting a neuroanatomical approach to acupuncture called the Integrative Neuromuscular Acupoint System (INMAS).  Research has continued into just how acupuncture works, and we now have a rational, scientific explanation, or more correctly hypothesis, as to how acupuncture works.  I say hypothesis because this explanation is likely only a piece of the puzzle.  It's a major piece, but as with all scientific discoveries, it is subject to being expanded or modified in some way as additional information becomes available.

When an acupuncture needle is inserted, the body responds both locally, at the site of insertion, and systemically, or throughout the body.  Locally there is an increase in blood flow, a release of chemicals that improve white blood cell activity, reduce inflammation, and promote healing of the local tissue.  Systemically, changes are initiated through the nervous system.  The stimulated (via acupuncture needle insertion) peripheral nervous system sends signals to the brain via the spinal cord which results in a release of your bodies pain killers known as enkephalins and endorphins.  These are very strong, naturally occurring opiates, and the pain will generally decrease rapidly.  

Since the majority of chronic pain is related to neuropathic pain and reduced blood flow to injured tissues, acupuncture is more often than not the most direct, most rapid and most complete way to address these problems.  Clinically this is borne out by the rapid reduction or elimination of pain, numbness, tingling, etc.   It should be pointed out that once your nervous system begins responding properly to the area of injury, and the blood flow increases, unless there is a significant underlying structural problem (major disk rupture, cancer, etc.) the tissue will become healthier, often times healing completely, and the problem will improve or resolve.  Acupuncture is not meant to be simply a symptom treatment.  Acupuncture heals the problem at the root cause.  There is no other treatment I am aware of that exerts as direct and as powerful an effect as acupuncture on this type of pain.

If you have any questions give us a call, send an email, or best of all, schedule your free consultation.  We look forward to meeting you and helping in any way we can.

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